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High Arctic to High Fashion 

MOSAiC Sea Ice Premieres at New York Fashion Week 


The Sea Ice Collection is an education and public outreach, Art-Science-Fashion & Technology cross-pollination experiment that recontextualizes the Arctic Ocean through the lens of sustainable practices in fashion. The Sea Ice Collection materializes climate science and tells the story of the diminishing Arctic sea ice cover through fabric pattern and garment design. Each garment represents a different facet of textile sustainability and is patterned with different crystalline structures of Arctic sea ice through two annual cycles of growth and melt. The goal is to shift the conversation about climate change away from environmental doomism towards the beauty of all there is still left to save, raise awareness about brand consciousness, and reorient consumer habits towards sustainable practices.


The Sea Ice Collection is wearable art that tells a story. When thin sections of sea ice shaved down from ice cores are placed between polarized light, a kaleidoscope of colors reveal the individual crystals. We've printed these crystalline structures of Arctic sea ice onto fabrics that represent different facets of textile sustainability. The Sea Ice Collection is the habitual ritual of getting dressed every morning wrapped in beautiful reminders that the Arctic Ocean exists—feeling climate science instead of reading about it—and weaving it into personal style and identity in a way only fashion can offer and proving that style is sustainable and sustainability is style.

Fashion is a phenomenological interface between our internal and external experiences. Arctic sea ice is a boundary, an interface between the ocean and atmosphere that regulates exchanges of gases, heat and light between water and sky. Just as our skin helps regulate our body’s temperature, Arctic sea ice helps regulate the earth’s temperature, and it is, scientifically named, a fabric of crystals that changes throughout the year. This fabric is thinning and vulnerable to greater exchanges of energy between the ocean and atmosphere.

The environmental impact of the fast fashion industry, which largely runs on the exploitation of young women, is present in virtually every area of environmental concern. The fashion industry is one of the the biggest polluters in the world—second only to the oil industry— and responsible for 10% of global carbon emissions (more than the sum total of the maritime and aviation industry combined), 20% of the world’s wastewater and 35% of the ocean’s micro plastic pollution. The facts are relentless: the textile industry is the second largest pollutant of water globally, second only to agriculture; 8,000 liters of water—what one person drinks in 7 years—is needed to make 1 pair of jeans; 2% of garment workers—of which 80% are women—earn a living wage; and, 60% of all clothing made is landfilled or incinerated within 1 year of its production with the average person throwing away 81 lbs of clothing each year.

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Arctic sea ice cores collected during the 2019 Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate (MOSAiC) field campaign were processed in a -20°C sea ice lab at the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) by NSF funded researcher Dr. Marc Oggier. Dr. Oggier studies the microstructure of Arctic sea ice crystals by placing thin sections of ice shaved down from different depths a long the ice cores between polarized light, which highlights in a kaleidoscope of colors the individual crystals as a result of the birefringent optical properties of crystalline ice.


The size, orientation, and arrangement of ice crystals and inclusions of brine, gas, and impurities define the microstructure of sea ice. The small-scale structure of sea ice governs the thermodynamic, mechanical, optical, and transport properties of the ice cover. In other words, the microstructure of Arctic sea ice crystals change in shape, size, orientation, and arrangement throughout the growth-melt annual cycle, which determines how much how much sunlight passes through the sea ice to ocean, impacting

parameters like biological productivity and the global carbon cycle. “It is critical to understand how these fundamental properties will respond to ongoing changes in Arctic sea ice,” says Dr. Oggier.


Working in the capacity of science communication, filmmaker Amy Lauren documented both the first leg of the 2019 MOSAiC expedition and the microstructure research conducted by Dr. Oggier at the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research this past year.  She has been creating with this research since 2019. Project Sea Ice is the wave of Lauren's artistic collaborations that have been inspired by Dr. Oggier’s research. 

In her latest education & public outreach project, Lauren collaborated with design house IAGU, to tell the story of the diminishing Arctic sea ice cover through fashion. Lauren turned her photographs of Dr. Oggier’s thin sections into patterns and printed them on fabrics that represent different facets of textile sustainability, merging climate science and sustainable fashion education in order to address the environmental toll of the fashion industry. The Sea Ice Collection premiered at New York Fashion Week this past September.

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