In 2012 NZ Post identified that a vast number of their used uniforms – approx 9,000 every year, were in a workable condition, but were being downcycled or exported to Papua New Guinea to be disposed of. Hollingsworth (2007) claims that about 45% of garments can have a second or third life cycle prior to their disposal and  every tonne of discarded textiles reused saves 20 tonnes of CO2 from entering the atmosphere.

Researchers Holly McQuillan and Jennifer Whitty were contacted to develop a solution to address this issue of post consumer corporate uniform waste based on their expertise in the area of sustainable solutions with clothing and textiles.

It became apparent that the potential of this research was not just in garment design but in how this circular people person service  and system for social innovation could operate  in an educational institution on an ongoing basis and how this could lead to change in thinking and behaviour across sectors. 

As Li Edelkoort (2015) asserts: we can change the mechanism of the fashion system by bringing together a diverse range of stakeholders to create a collaborative framework, which supports both individual and collective innovation.

Adopting this approach, from 2012-2014 a formalisation and negotiation process took place between founding designers, interested corporate parties and Massey University. The result was the formation of Space Between, a strategic enterprise and research innovation situated both physically and virtually at Massey's College of Creative Arts.

The impetus to work in this capacity was reinforced by the strategic cross sector partnership with New Zealand Post Group; a state-owned enterprise which operates as a commercial entity which  consists of a range of businesses providing communication and business solutions; and their corporate manufacturer Booker Spalding.

The researchers examined New Zealand Post's current uniform system and subsequently developed a pilot solution  ‘Postmodern collection’ (2012-2013) to utilise this waste material through a series of up-cycling (remanufacture) processes, design strategies and 3 upcycling  techniques (conjoined, spliced and pieced) which could be applied to any given garment, including other corporate uniform manufacturers. 

In 2014 Space Between were recipients of the Massey University Vice Chancellor's Strategic Innovation Fund - Entrepreneurial Partnership Platform. This funding was key to the development of the physical and online infrastructure, in addition to overheads, and external costs. We also received in-kind support in the form of the post-consumer uniforms from NZ Post.