After a quiet New Year on the travel front, I have been zooming around a lot this Spring - mostly for work but a half term holiday too. So, continuing with my year of buying nothing new, I have been hunting through wardrobes for colours and cuts to help with my international 'presentations'. West London charity shops have been invaluable. I have had a few fab finds that brightened up my packing and set me on the road with something 'new' to wear for each occasion, and have shared them with you below, along with a brief synopsis of the trips.
I lucked out and found a gorgeous silk Rob Ryan scarf in Cancer Research in Chiswick just before my trip to Paris. In red, white and blue it made me feel very Anglais and gave me a bit of a sparkle for the paper I was giving at EAD11 - at the conference I was talking about the new skills we should provide designers with as we strive for a better industry. I didn't include developing an eagle eye in charity shops, but maybe I will add that in to the paper after my experience this spring.
I flew in for three days to set up the Textile Toolbox pop-up show, and give workshops to Danish businesses with DAFI and their Fabric Source team, at KEA. I used TED's The TEN to help the small businesses take a garment and redesign it in stages to improve its overall environmental performance. In workshops in Sweden we have managed to improve at product by between 3% - 41% using the Higg Index to score it before and after the redesign process.
I also hosted a workshop for KEA fashion and textile staff, where we discussed the Textile Toolbox work, and The TEN, and how it can be used in their own specific context. It was a really enjoyable session - it's not always easy working with other academics in this context - but the opportunity to work with a team and support their own ambition is a valuable one. It was particularly nice to meet Kristin face-to-face, one of the Textile Toolbox bloggers we brought on board in 2012 to collaborate on the Mistra project.
Back in London I dashed into the MA Fashion exhibition at CSM, Nude, where I found some ingenious fabric reuse concepts. When I studied on the course there was no mention of sustainability (1992-94), and I had a battle to get my ideas across, but my collection using old knitwear to airbrush and print with onto new fabric was appreciated by the end of the course ;)
It was the first time the MA course had held a public exhibition of the catwalk work. Alistair had done an incredible design job in the gallery. I hope they do an exhibition every year - it will become a must see - and I hope the interest in 'greening' the industry continues to flourish here on this outstanding and highly influential course.
Next up a lightening trip out to Gothenburg and the Swedish School of Fashion and Textiles in Borås to give a keynote at an event hosted by SP, the lead organization in the Mistra project, who research new wood technologies. I took the pop up show along for the day, and we also had a chance to catwalk some of the outfits during my talk, which was really exciting and gave us some great ideas for another project...
Paper was the focus of the event which was titled 'The Forest on the Catwalk'. Naturally Kay and Kate's paper jacket was an appropriate centre piece (ASAP, 2014).
My favourite Top 100 shirt got another wearing for the keynote talk. It's a very ancient M&S polyester shirt that I bought in 2002 from an Oxfam shop in Cornwall, which I over printed with plant cuttings from the Eden Project. It is set to last forever - not a sign of wear after so many years, its a sobering thought when you experience first hand just how durable this material is - lasting 200 years we need to make sure polyester garments have more than one life.
Back in London I took the kids out on a few trips to make up for my neglect... We saw the South American art and the Hermes show at the Saatchi, and also climbed Monument, after a quick shop for holiday clothes in Fara kids. It was a good opportunity to talk about 'new' and luxurious; and 'old' and inexpensive. They got to understand that people and skills are needed for both kinds of products, and that materials and techniques often vary for these fast and slow commodities.
Finally, a half term break in Crete. Bliss! In packing and sorting through clothes they have grown out of, I made a list of what they needed now they are an inch bigger all around. There is no end of second hand stuff out there for the kids - I almost can't believe people ever buy new... In style terms they are getting more choosey now, but it's still so easy to find great stuff in mint condition. That goes for me too. Martha is wearing my Biba jacket here - a great find from Mary's L&G again. Tru is wearing a fab tropical fish shirt which my mum found in the charity shop Dorothy House in Melksham where she volunteers every Tuesday. Of course, Mum is a great source of clothes for the kids - she often gets first pick of the new stock - and after eleven years of volunteering she is also a firm convert to 'not buying new' as often as possible.
There are things I have missed this spring - new shoes in particular. I still haven't found any footwear on my trips around the charity shops. I think this is a tricky area and needs some research to see what is possible. I also wanted new swimwear for the holiday and again, I wasn't prepared to go second hand for it. But on the whole, this year of not buying new is not hard. And it means I am saving up money to spend on having fun with the family. There is definitely something profoundly important in this kind of pledge, #nonewclothes2015