So it’s all very well saying ‘don’t buy new’, but what do we buy when we really do need something new to wear? A month in, and it’s been easy. I haven’t even been tempted. Keeping busy is key! This week my colleague Kate Goldsworthy and I gave a Textile Toolbox workshop at Central Saint Martins, for the MA Material Futures first years.
If we do manage to become more conscientious consumers, we will still need new frocks every now and then. Where will we go to get one? I believe we can’t make everything ourselves, or clothe ourselves entirely from second hand finds (although I know a few great folk who do). A sustainable industry will have a broad range of improved offers: products, systems and services will redefine business as usual.
Textile and fashion designers will play a pivotal role in this new landscape – working with scientists, policy makers, marketeers and communities. It has been my mission throughout my career as a design researcher and educator to consider what new knowledge and skills designers of the future will need. More recently this has evolved into thinking about tools, toolkits and methods for creating change.
The Textile Toolbox project is part of the Mistra Future Fashion consortium research, based in Sweden (2011 – 2015). My team and I used TED’s The TEN to develop strategic design approaches for designers to adopt to tackle a number of key challenges. The exhibition work we showcased last year showed a number of new fashion textile concepts by my team that illustrated the use of interconnected strategies. We are going to be touring the pop up over the next few years, enabling designers and consumers to interact with the work and even make fashion for themselves. Here are a few morsels that highlight new industry food for thought:
- Bridget’s A Jumper to Lend, A Jumper to Mend was created by the artist in response to the question of how garments will need to be different as we shift towards a lending / borrowing economy. How should we design for Fashion Libraries?
- In the Fast ReFashion series I help consumers make upcycled fashion for themselves, by offering them instructions and kits through online platforms.
- For the ASAP research, Kay and Sandy have worked with material scientists to create a paper-like fabric for genuinely fast fashion.
- Kate Goldsworthy’s Seamsdress research extends her use of the laser welder to cut, embellish and seam a monomaterial garment in one vertical process, thus creating fashion that is low in chemical use and made for future recyclability.
- Miriam’s DeNAture work will help us identify fibre types in the future using UV light, again working towards making a closed loop fashion industry more viable.
- Finally, Mel and Kathy’s Smorgasboard work gives the consumer a design game to play to create their own unique print designs with ease, moving us all closer to democratic fashion action.
In the meantime I have a large hole in my yoga leggings – one which has been repaired about ten time already. The fabric has worn so thin it can’t hold stitches any more. I am approaching a moment where a new pair might be necessary. Now, where can I rent a monomaterial, laser welded, print-designed-by-me, created for future mending and refashioning pair of yoga pants..?