Yesterday I spent the evening replying to emails I received from students and researchers, asking for help/collaboration on their projects related to their studies in fashion & sustainability. So far, I have been in touch with people from Journalism at Leeds Metropolitan University, Human Geography at LCF Nottingham University, a Textile MAA at Emily Carr University of Art and Design in British Columbia, Canada.
The latest request I got came via the Ethical Fashion Forum, and is still open, so I’m happy to spread the word here. Fellowship 500 member and Northumbria University postgraduate researcher Alana James is in the final stages of her PhD focusing on responsibly sourced fashion on the UK high street, from both the consumer and retailer perspectives. She explores the unique relationship between consumers and retailers and the methods used to convey brand values during the purchasing process. You can help Alana complete her research by undertaking a short survey which should take no more than 2-3 minutes. You will answer a few questions about what information you would like a high street retailer to disclose regarding their CSR policies, when shopping both in-store and online. Our position as consumers is extremely important (remember: we vote with our wallet every day!), so this is welcome research that I personally encourage you to take part in! Find the survey here.
If you’re a student or a researcher involved with fashion & ethics/sustainability, the place to be is definitely London College of Fashion’s Centre For Sustainable Fashion, directed by Dilys Williams and whose team includes names such as Sandy Black and Kate Fletcher (find their books here), Helen Storey and Caryn Franklin. I’ve also been in touch with some of the candidates of its MA Fashion and the Environment, and I have to say the quality of research is astounding – from Rachel Clowes ‘edible’ sequins (seen at Estethica in September, in collaboration with Junky Styling), to Vivienne Austin’s study of shoes, to Nina Walsh’s Fashion Activism project. You can take part in this one too:
But the one project I am really looking forward to is one that requires me – and you! – personally. As in: physically. This is a wonderful body of work carried out internationally and centred on my favourite aspect of Slow/sustainable fashion: upcycling. Katelyn Toth-Fejel (of Here Today Here Tomorrow and Dinners To Dye For) invited me to Local Wisdom, a project that aims at changing the way you think about, buy and wear fashion forever. Local Wisdom invites people to local venues for a community photoshoot gathering unique and moving stories about how they use and care for their clothing. On Wednesday 5 December 2012 the Local Wisdom team lands at London College of Fashion looking to unearth stories behind the clothes and the people that live in the fashion capital.
Local Wisdom was conceived in 2009 by Dr Kate Fletcher, and has already interviewed hundreds of people about their very personal relationships with their most treasured garments.
Thanks to generous funding from the Leverhulme Trust Local Wisdom is set to go global in 2012-14, unearthing stories from people in cities across the world including Vancouver, New York, Melbourne, Wellington and London. Perhaps you live in one of the UK’s typical households, where on average, around 30% of a person’s wardrobe sits unused and unworn for at least a year, resulting in a massive £30 billion worth of unloved garments going to waste. Or maybe you’re amongst the growing number of people bucking the fast fashion trend and investing in alternative fashion experiences, in addition to shopping. You might be the proud owner of a treasured pair of jeans that you’ve never dared wash so as to keep their personalised look, or a dress that is shared and covetously passed around your sisters and aunts. If so then Local Wisdom wants to speak to you!
Local Wisdom celebrates the people who are finding riches and abundance within the limits of the stuff they already own. In tough economic times many are questioning whether our thirst for material
goods is actually making us happy? Evidence suggests that the ever increasing material rewards available to us can actually undermine our capacity to enjoy them, the challenge explored by Local Wisdom is how to pace consumption rather than maximise it. By making small changes in our day to day lives, be that extending the life of our clothes through customisation or developing an expert eye for second hand and vintage pieces, we each have the capacity to play our part in embedding cultural change by bringing sustainability to a human and achievable level.
I will be taking part. Still haven’t decided what to wear, but I have so many upcycled pieces… See you there?