Weeks 24-25: Mindful Living in New York and Long Life in Nottingham

Earlier this year I was invited to speak and give a workshop at Sass Brown's Summer School, at FIT, New York, and managed to take out the Textile Toolbox show too. FIT hosted a two week showcase of the work, which was a great final outcome for the Mistra Future Fashion research.

Brooklyn-based Parsons/Chelsea MA graduate Kioka helping us set up in NYC

Brooklyn-based Parsons/Chelsea MA graduate Kioka helping us set up in NYC

Set up was very quick thanks to uber-efficient TED assistant Miriam Ribul and FIT administrator Elke, and so I got Friday afternoon to Monday morning to see some sights and explore. I hadn't been to NYC since September 2012, and I was keen to find the green shoots of alternative business and lifestyle models that it's becoming famous for, particularly outside of Manhattan.

I didn't spend long at all here - Time Square - but starting in the least 'eco' place and I was able to feel and experience the differences more acutely. I really hate crowds, and this kind of city centre. Piccadilly Circus as a spectator sport - argh. Bridget and I quickly turned towards quieter streets...

The Highline at sunset. Short but sweet. A different perspective of Midtown down to the Meat Packing District.

Cooling off our feet on the Highline.

White lego play on the Highline.

White lego play on the Highline.

Thrift store purchases! I avoided buying new in New York, but Beacon's Closet was jam packed full of brilliant second hand things. I picked up some long and short denim dungarees and a navy silk playsuit. The necklace I bought at the Museum of Art & Design is by a Brooklyn maker who uses recycled objects and bamboo beads.

Lunch in the vegan restaurant, Angelica Home Kitchen, one of Bridget's favorite haunts. She also went to the Isamu Noguchi museum and reported back that it was amazing...

One of the many, many juice bars. And I didn't photograph the salad bars - but they have become super healthy, letting you walk along a very long counter and select from an incredible range of organic ingredients…

Rooftop cocktails and supper with Suzanne Lee at Soho House… Couldn't find a swimsuit in a thrift store - so bought one from a surf shop… Then found out the pool was closed. Argh!!

Rooftop cocktails and supper with Suzanne Lee at Soho House… Couldn't find a swimsuit in a thrift store - so bought one from a surf shop… Then found out the pool was closed. Argh!!

More rooftop time. Sunday with Sass Brown, talking about the emerging eco fashion scene in NYC, inspecting her organic veg / salad garden, and drinking her Prosecco ;) 

Way down in DUMBO… The ultimate green house?

Way down in DUMBO… The ultimate green house?

Sass Brown's FIT Summer School. My talk about The Textile Toolbox and using The TEN to redesign products, and also open minds...

Antony Lilore presenting his jacket concept at the end of The TEN workshop.

CEO of Sydney Brown and a fab designer from G Star Raw presenting their co-designed shoe concept.

CEO of Sydney Brown and a fab designer from G Star Raw presenting their co-designed shoe concept.

Modern Meadow - animal products without killing animals - presented by Creative Director Suzanne Lee

China Through the Looking Glass at the MET. AMAZING! I will derive years of inspiration from the photos I took there.

China Through the Looking Glass at the MET. AMAZING! I will derive years of inspiration from the photos I took there.

New Yorkers now rent extra storage space to keep their (unused) possessions… A rapidly expanding market too. Madness.

New Yorkers now rent extra storage space to keep their (unused) possessions… A rapidly expanding market too. Madness.

A chance to show, speak and workshop in NYC was a great opportunity, but all this flying around the globe is difficult to reconcile with my conscience. It tends to make my #nonewclothes2015 pledge feel a bit small. But, by being there, I am also having an impact on many companies and decision makers. I can only hope that what I inspire them to do afterwards will help offset my footprint. In Sweden I have helped companies redesign products and make Higgs Index savings of up to 41% - on a large volume product this could be quite considerable, so maybe at the FIT Summer School some of the brands will score well too when they go back and put their plans into action.

I still board an airplane thinking 'how the heck does this get off the ground?' followed quickly by 'oh yes, a lot of FUEL and EMMISSIONS'. It is the biggest climate sin, according to an article in the New York Times, which says that my flight from London to NY will have created "a warming effect equivalent to 2 or 3 tons of carbon dioxide per person."

The following week I took the train up to Nottingham, to take part in the PLATE conference. FIT Dean Sass Brown was there too, presenting her excellent paper about future sustainable luxury and artisnal craft in a global context. So we got to catch up after the busy Summer School the week before and make some new plans over late night noodles. We were tempted to take up the invite to go to a karaoke night with the staff at Wagamama's, but sensibly declined to attempt to recover from the jet lag instead.

I was at PLATE presenting Mistra work that Kate Goldsworthy and I had conducted around designing for short and long life cyclable textiles. 

Designing for cyclability as a proactive approach to improving the retention of material value within circular fashion systems... Designing in order to enable fully joined up cycles of material use is the ultimate aim for both approaches, but this speed of cycle creates very different challenges on which to make informed and appropriate design choices. The two approaches are deliberately extreme opposites, with short-life closed-loop garments explored as complementary to long-life user engagement strategies. Both can ultimately be argued to have an extending affect on materials in the value-chain; one by keeping products in use over multiple cycles in perpetuity, the other by extending the single use cycle of a product over time. By exploring this polarisation of speeds and needs we aim to gain insights into creating an effective circular materials economy, which acknowledges the complex nature of our current and emerging fashion system.
— (Earley & Goldsworthy, 2015)

The accompanying exhibition at PLATE was a real treat and had some great items in it - including the books below and the ultimate in transforming clothes by ex-engineer Annalisa Simmonella. It made me think about how one of her dresses would have been so very very useful on my work recent trips - transforming with delicate buttons from short to long sleeve, and from full skirt to mini skirt… and many other configurations besides. I could have reduced my packing considerably, and had fun working out what was appropriate from event to event. She could really help me out during this year of #nonewclothes2015...

Annalisa Simmonella

Annalisa Simmonella

Bridget Harvey's mended Red Blanket

Bridget Harvey's mended Red Blanket