Ways of Caring—Practicing Solidarity

How Fashion Industry Moves Forward

What is the way forward for a fashion industry that is currently destructive? It is more urgent than ever to tackle the problems plaguing the industry—environmental destruction and wasteful production processes, unsafe working conditions, and the seemingly unstoppable rise of hyper-fast fashion giants. How to move beyond the injustices and inequalities in industrial fashion? How to open up alternative fashion systems?


Design: Team Thursday

The conference ‘Ways of Caring—Practicing Solidarity,’ which took place on June 30 and July 1, 2022, explored a possible solution: practising solidarity in fashion.

In response to the Covid-19 outbreak, we’ve heard many calls for solidarity, a more solidary fashion industry and more connected practices of making and wearing. Curious fashion professionals and creative practitioners from around the world were invited to join a 48-hour hybrid conference to develop deeper knowledge on the topic that go beyond the boundaries of the fashion discipline. Interactive presentations, talks, lectures, demonstrations and workshops connected relevant thinkers, inspiring makers, and like-minded fashion practitioners. It was aimed at being a key step in creating a new fashion system—one that is bonded by community and ultimately more sustainable.

The conference kicked off on the first day with a unique digital event. The inspiring online programme was curated by 11 fashion platforms and collectives from around the world. Participants included Sueli Maxakali and Paula Berbert, Rio Ethical Fashion from Brazil, Fashion Revolution, the Union of Concerned Researchers in Fashion, Ricarda Bigolin and Chantal Kirby from Australia, Bhaavya Goenka from India, Fashion Act Now, Amy Twigger Holroyd, House of Re-Fashion and the Research Collective for Decoloniality & Fashion.

The conference continued on the second day live in Arnhem with demonstrations, lectures, workshops and discussions by critical fashion practitioners, including Anna Piroshka Tóth, Louise Croff Blake, CAULFIELD-SRIKLAD, Chepkemboi Mang’ira, Ben Barry, TOTON, Schepers Bosman, Patchwork Family, Kate Fletcher & Anna Fitzpatrick, Katherine May, Z O M E R K A M P, Mila Burcikova & Monica Buchan-Ng, among many others.

The event was organised by the ArtEZ University of the Arts / ArtEZ Fashion Professorship and State of Fashion, in collaboration with the ArtEZ B.A. in Fashion Design and the M.A. in Critical Fashion Practices, ArtEZ Studium Generale and with Fashion Revolution. 

The online portions are now available for replay. Click here to rewatch the exciting and stimulating discussion that happened during the 11 online events, which were curated by 11 fashion platforms and collectives. You can also rewatch the lively roundtable discussions from the live conference that offer an in-depth introduction to the theme of solidarity in fashion from diverse perspectives. And don’t forget to listen to the podcast ‘Laverie Sentimentale’ developed by Anna Piroshka Toth, which turns the functional space of a laundromat into something you never thought it could be: a place for intimacy and collectivity.


Online Events

  1. Research Collective of Decoloniality & Fashion: Practising Decoloniality

The Global Fashioning Assembly (GFA) project is a coalitional gathering beyond institutional, disciplinary and geographical boundaries that aims to decentralise knowledge creation and sharing around fashion. Its participant communities span the globe, from New Zealand, India, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, north, east and southern Africa, Croatia, and north, central and south America.

Practising Decoloniality is a workshop convened by Dr Erica de Greef and Angela Jansen of the Research Collective for Decoloniality & Fashion in collaboration with four GFA coalitional community members. The workshop draws on our experience of what it means to practise decoloniality (in curating a fashion programme) by decentring ways of working collectively.

We explore five key elements that have been productive to the GFA’s development—namely, notions of listening, humbling, and hosting, and, questions of global time, and translation/translatability. Together we explore our processes through conversation, through the relational, the communal and the coalitional, and through the radical act of listening across race, gender, age, epistemologies and genealogies. We do so to find pathways that are in relation with a network of fashion(ing) communities so that we may practise decoloniality beyond content.

The workshop engages concepts of collaboration that are key to forging the future of fashion, expanding the nexus of decoloniality and fashion, and engaging multiple partners and stakeholders across diverse, global fashion(ing) systems.

Dr Erica de Greef

Dr Erica de Greef is a South African curator, scholar-activist and founding member of the African Fashion Research Institute (AFRI). Her work prompts attention towards decolonial redress. In 2018, she curated 21 YEARS: Making Histories with South African Fashion Week at the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary African Art (MOCAA) in Cape Town. She completed her PhD in African Studies, titled ‘Sartorial Disruptions,’ at the University of Cape Town, which explored the stasis within fashion collections and exhibitions at South African museums. Committed to re-centring the field of African Fashion Studies, she has lectured, contributed to curriculum development, and supervised in fashion institutions for over 15 years. Since 2020, she has co-convened the online African Fashion course and monthly Conversations in Decoloniality and Fashion. She is an editorial board member for the International Journal of Fashion Studies, has published widely, and is co-editor of Rethinking Fashion Globalization (Bloomsbury, 2021).


  1. Fashion Revolution: Good Clothes, Fair Pay

Millions of people—mostly women—work in textile, clothing and footwear production around the world. The vast majority are not paid enough to fulfil their basic needs. They remain trapped in poverty while big fashion companies continue to profit from their hard work. It is a deeply unfair and exploitative system, and we must demand better. The Covid-19 pandemic has further deepened wage insecurity for the people who make our clothes, leaving workers without any social safety net, struggling to pay for food, healthcare and shelter. This is why the Good Clothes Fair Pay campaign, a European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) for living wages in the fashion supply chain, is demanding legislation that helps achieve fair pay for textile and garment workers around the world.

Good Clothes Fair Pay calls on the European Commission to introduce legislation requiring that brands and retailers in the garment sector conduct specific due diligence in their supply chain to ensure workers are paid living wages.

The ECI is a unique instrument enabling citizens to call directly on the European Commission to propose legislation in an area of European Union (EU) competence. The campaign must collect at least one million signatures from EU citizens. This ECI will mobilise more than one million EU citizens to take collective action in solidarity with the people who make our clothes. The legislation will apply to workers worldwide—workers in the Global South are disproportionately affected because this is where most clothes are made.

By calling on the European Commission to introduce legislation on living wages, over one million EU citizens will demonstrate they care about, and stand in solidarity with, the people who make our clothes globally. The scope covers brands and retailers who want to trade in the EU, independently of whether they are based in Europe or elsewhere. It calls on brands and retailers to put in place, implement, monitor, and publicly disclose a time-bound and target-bound plan to close the gap between actual and living wages.

For more information on the ECI campaign, please see www.goodclothesfairpay.eu.

Fashion Revolution

The Fashion Revolution movement mobilises citizens, industry and policymakers around a shared vision: a global fashion industry that respects and protects the environment and values people over growth and profit. Fashion Revolution Week is when we come together as a global community to create a better fashion industry. As part of this, the Dutch arm of the movement, Fashion Revolution Netherlands, is delighted to announce a series of both live and virtual events, which will take place across the Netherlands. Fashion Revolution Netherlands focuses on three main themes: exploitation of garment workers, exploitation of environment, and eradicating imbalance of power and colonialism. Our mission is to help people realise that they have the power to create change by demanding a fair, ethical and sustainable fashion industry!


  1. Community Couture: How to Be a Good Ancestor?

Every piece of clothing provides a unique opportunity to engage with the world and form relationships. Still, there are different levels of intimacy that we can achieve through and with what we wear. Community Couture focuses on how clothes can be designed to improve and represent connection for a long period of time and be an opportunity to exchange thoughts and ideas.

Community Couture combines bespoke slow fashion principles with traditions of storytelling through textiles and is a means to explore alternative models of fashion sharing. Every garment is a one-off unique tapestry representing community responses to a given question or theme. Community Couture gives participants the opportunity to reflect and see themselves as a part of something larger, with textiles becoming a representation of community and belonging. It is built on a rental model. Every rental sustains the idea and carries and amplifies the message of sharing, which is essential to this project. It enables you to wear someone else’s stories— a spin on a phrase to walk in someone’s shoes.

Workshop: How to Be a Good Ancestor?

Following in the footsteps of civil rights and children’s rights activist Marian Wright Edelman and public philosopher Roman Krznaric, Community Couture created a space to reflect on the question ‘How to be a good ancestor?’

In the two-hour online draw and tell workshop, participants collectively imagine how to care about generations to come and enable a long-term future. From their visual contributions which answer the question of how to be a good ancestor, Community Couture makes a textile and then garment. The garment, available to rent, will serve as a visual and collaborative legacy of those who contributed and wisdoms they wanted to preserve for future generations.

‘Be a good ancestor. Stand for something bigger than yourself. Add value to the Earth during your sojourn’—Marian Wright Edelman

Aniela & Joasia Fidler Wieruszewskie

This Community Couture proposal is created by Aniela and Joasia Fidler Wieruszewskie. We are related but do not come from a particularly tight-knit family, so this project is a way for us to connect by creating things together, allowing us to get to know each other better and become closer.

Raised in Poland and based in London, Aniela is a creative researcher, designer and maker interested in relationships between us and objects. She is interested in ways in which narratives and stories we tell can improve our ability to care for objects, for each other and the planet. For more, see www.anielacomplicatedsurname.com

Joasia a graphic designer, illustrator & art director. Her work is based on unique creative concepts that are a result of thorough research and empathy. She focuses on creating lasting emotional connection between products and people. She was raised in Poland and is based in Berlin. For more, see www.fidlerowna.com.


 

  1. Rio Ethical Fashion: How Much Is a Life Worth?

Rio Ethical Fashion takes five speakers and a documentary film created by ESPLAR (an NGO that provides organic cotton to VEJA, the French fair-trade sneakers brand produced and sourced in Brazil) to the conference. The panel presents the vision from the Global South through the cases of Cotton Agribusiness, Fibers of Care and the Ways of Caring and Solidarity in Peripherical Economies. The 20-minute movie called How Much Is a Life Worth? documents the testimonials of indigenous and rural workers leaderships and maps ecological and social debts that the Brazilian state owes these two people.

We share and present the visions of two different agroecological communities situated in the Northeast of Brazil (Tapeba indigenous community and rural workers from Choró, Central Ceará), on how to practise collectivity, solidarity economy, forms of exchange and sharing. The encounter of those visions is meant to help create a solidary partnership and the strengthening in the fight for their rights to territory and not using pesticides in their agricultural areas, preserving their ancestral knowledge.

Yamê Reis

The moderator, Yamê Reis, is a cofounder and executive director of Rio Ethical Fashion. She holds a master’s degree in Political Sociology and is a member of Union of Concerned Researchers in Fashion. She is the author of The Cotton Agribusiness: Environment and Sustainability (2021).

Lilyan Berlim

Berlim holds a PhD in Social Sciences and a master’s degree in Environment and researches consumption, fashion and sustainability. She is a researcher on climate change and sustainable practices at Higher School of Advertising and Marketing and the author of the book Fashion and Sustainability, a Necessary Reflection (2012).

Marina Colerato

Colerato is the founder of Instituto Modefica, an independent journalism organisation, research and education institution that acts for climate, social and environmental justice through an ecofeminist perspective.

Magnolia Said

Said is a movie screenwriter, coordinator, and publisher of the book How Much Is a Life Worth.

Weibe Tapeba

Tapeba is special advisor on educational policy for the articulation of indigenous peoples in Brazil. Tapeba is a representative of Indigenous People of Tapeba who live fighting for the demarcation of its territory.

  


  1. Union of Concerned Researchers in Fashion: The EmpathY sessions: Yoga, Yield and Yarn

The Union of Concerned Researchers in Fashion (UCRF) explores the theme of EmpathY using a three-phased approach to embrace a new fashion solidarity: yoga, yield and yarn. We have chosen EmpathY as our guiding title in order to capture key ingredients: equity, multidisciplinarity, prosperity, awareness, transparency, honesty, indigenous thinking and our three Ys.

Most of today’s sustainable fashion initiatives and claims are entrenched in an economic growth logic that legitimises overproduction while perpetuating overconsumption. Market-based solutions and neoliberal corporate agendas result in serious degradation and destruction of natural, social and creative resources. Today’s broken system continues to give our clothes and us shorter life cycles, power imbalance, lack of supply chain planning capabilities and inequitable cost reduction strategies that will not be fixed unless we build a radically new system by undertaking long-term, systemic, structural, holistic, reflexive and participatory actions.

In relation to forms of exchange and sharing, moral transformation of behaviour and empathY, this session aims to create a transformative conversation to restructure some of our behavioural patterns to become the ‘care’ that would catalyse a cultural shift. As philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti puts it: ‘In oneself lies the whole world. If you know how to look and learn, then the door is there, and the key is in your hand. Nobody on earth can give you the key or open the door except yourself.’

EmpathY is an audacious social experiment that wants to create a paradigm shift away from our obsession with consumption and constant newness. Through the spiritual awakening of one’s true self, we root ourselves in the indigenous knowledge of interconnection and oneness to life and embrace the ancient philosophies propagating the idea that all change starts with self. This process is the result of the harmonious collision of creativity, intuition, the soul guiding energies of one’s wardrobe, through the play of creating one’s own conscious style and crafting.

The vision of this socio-anthropological experiment will explore how to dismantle the very structures and frameworks of hierarchy that the fashion industry advocates and how to move toward truly democratic, inclusive and just platforms of creativity and playful expression of self where we are all connected with our spirit that will manifest equity, justice and fairness for all through clothing and dress.

EmpathY takes place as follows:

A ten-minute welcoming session that introduces UCRF, our Manifesto and some of our on-going work. We frame the programme, explaining how we will move forward.

Phase 1: Yoga (30 minutes) will aim to quiet the mind from the maddening voices of society and media, the voices that tell us we are not good enough and need to buy something new in order to be fashionable. Through the ancient practice of yoga, which unites the individual consciousness with the universal collective consciousness, thereby bringing us to a state of interconnectedness and inter-beingness, where we can listen to our true authentic voices. You need to come to this phase with three things: a picture of yourself as a child and as an adolescent wearing clothes that made you feel good, as well as an item from your wardrobe that has meaning for you in some aspect. We will explore your relationships to your feelings related to the hows and the whys of what these clothes gave (and give) you in the form of security, warmth, love and a sense of place. This will help us balance and reconnect body, mind and soul, aligning and opening us up for the next phase where we continue to meditate through fashioning and crafting.

Phase 2: Yielding (30 minutes) consists of different break-out sessions, depending on your passion for repair, care or crafting. What would the world look like if we were all aware of the consequences of our choices? What would happen if we embraced our truths from a deeply interconnected authentic, self-aware space? This provocation suggests that through our own consciousness, creative expression and craft, we awaken from a deep sleep of addiction to consumption into conscious, deeply connected, radically loving beings.

We see an incredible value in learning how to be more self-reliant and proactive when it comes to our textiles. Many of our ancestors were skilled in the arts of mending, sewing, knitting, cleaning, and generally repurposing their textiles to give them a longer life. Fortunately, learning these practices only requires a little bit of time and the right resources. All participants are asked to bring something to work on in this phase and to share with the other participants why they have chosen to work with this specific piece of clothing. Our plan for break-out rooms will be related to reknitting, visible mending, un/making and other issues related to empowering through creating and caring, the key to reclaiming your wardrobe and your ‘rewilding’ journey. Different members of UCRF with specific skills and knowledge in this area will lead the break out rooms.

Phase 3: Yarning (30 minutes) explores how we actually can decolonise fashion. How can create the conditions whereby the power imbalance that is inherent to the fashion industry can be overcome? Through yarning on our reflections in the previous two phases, participants will be invited to be part of the solution through ACTing and empathically engaging. After radically decolonizing our deep conditioned beliefs and patterns regarding growth and fashion through the transformational process of conscious and deliberate actions of Phase 1 and Phase 2, we invite you to reimagine the system through craft and crafting and the emotions this brings to products and your wardrobe.

How exactly do the participants feel about the social and environmental degradation our fashion choices cause? What are the problems? What are the solutions? How can you become part of the solution rather than part of the problem? Let us, through yarning—an Aboriginal term for talking through problems allowing everyone to have their say, most often done while one also practises crafts—imagine a system based on love, equity, and justice for everyone.

What does the ideal fashion world look like, where clothes offer us security, warmth, beauty and a sense of belonging? In short, it looks like EmpathY. The session ends with 20 minutes for Closing remarks that explore a mantra for the future. Mantra is a Hindu word that means sacred words that have spiritual, transformative power, for example: ‘I am Enough.’ The mantra is a meditation tool that slowly but surely helps to rewire the brain, from the deeply seeded negative beliefs. What mantra will we leave with, in order to create a radically new fashion system?

Union of Concerned Researchers in Fashion is a non-profit organisation established in 2018 as a reaction to the realisation that the last 30 years in fashion have been led by industry. And as such, it has been constantly framed within business, without asking questions about the nature of business itself. UCRF is organised as a collective, and in line with this, we have a flat structure where decisions, media responses and events are also collectively organised and therefore do not reflect one person’s work or research. All outreach activities have their root in UCRF’s Manifesto, and the aim is to challenge the simplified discussion and predominant growth logic within the fashion sector by disseminating research and creating activist knowledge ecologies. UCRF aims to mobilise for concerted action and leadership over the use of scientific and artistic knowledge that is more relevant to and commensurate with the multiple crises we face.

The Board are the authors of the proposal. They are, in alphabetical order:

Otto von Busch (PhD) is associate professor of Integrated Design at Parsons School of Design. In his artistic practice and research, he explores participatory forms of fashion reform, where fashion acts as a collective experience of empowerment, liberation and shared aliveness. Over the last decades, he has examined alternative perspectives on fashion, from hacktivism, Buddhism, and imaginal mysticism. Some of his latest works examine fashion as an energy and embodied emotion, utilising the lenses of biology and neuroscience.

Kate Fletcher (PhD) is Research Professor at the Centre for Sustainable Fashion in University of the Arts London, UK. Over the last two decades, her original thinking and progressive outlook has infused the field of fashion, textiles and sustainability with design thinking, and come to define it. She has written or edited six books available as many languages, including Sustainable Fashion and Textiles: Design Journeys (2008, 2014), which is in active use in commercial design studios and is the principal text in academic seminar rooms around the world. Fletcher is the most cited scholar in the field and the creator of directional fashion and sustainability projects including the Craft of Use and Fashion Ecologies. She is currently working on nature and design and fashion localism within academia, business and government. Her latest book about clothing and nature, Wild Dress (2019), is now out. She also co-authored Earth Logic with Mathilda Tham.

Gitika Goyal is a designer, entrepreneur and educator. She integrated slow fashion in her practice long before the term was coined. As a designer and entrepreneur, Goyal has created three sustainable brands. Pushing the boundaries of traditional craft techniques and aesthetics culminated in premium fashion and home décor brands that sold through exclusive concept stores in the Global North. Then, to make the concept of slow and sustainable fashion more accessible, she launched a domestic online brand of eclectic, easy and affordable fashion for women. With this brand, she introduced the concept of circularity in India. Gitika has been a part of faculty at the most premium design schools in India – National Institute of Design, National Institute of Fashion Technology & Srishti School of Art, Design & Technology.

Lynda Grose is Chair of the Fashion Design program at California College of the Arts, San Francisco. She has worked on sustainability in fashion design for almost three decades with corporations, artisans, farmers, NGOs, governmental and educational institutions. Grose co-founded ESPRIT’s ecollection (1992), the first ecologically responsible clothing line developed by a major corporation, which framed the supply chain impacts approach to fashion and sustainability now prevalent industry-wide. She was a major force in popularising organic and Cleaner CottonTM through her work with The Sustainable Cotton Project. Grose co-authored Fashion and Sustainability: Design for Change (Laurence King Publishers, London), which is available in five languages. She is a contributing author to Opening Up the Wardrobe (Novus Press), The Routledge Handbook on Sustainable Fashion (Routledge), Sustainable Textiles: Life Cycle and Environmental Impact (Woodhouse Publishing, London), and Sustainability in Fashion and Textiles: Values, Design, Production and Consumption (Greenleaf Publishing). She is currently working on post-growth design concepts aiming to satisfy the wearer’s desire for something new in ‘ways other’ than shopping.

Hakan Karaosman (PhD) is a social scientist focusing on environmental and social justice in and across fashion supply chains. He is the Chief Scientist at FReSCH (Fashion’s Responsible Supply Chain Hub), an action research project awarded by the European Commission Research Executive Agency and hosted by University College Dublin. In addition to UCRF, Karaosman is currently serving on the boards of IPSERA (International Purchasing and Supply Education and Research Association) and STOF (State of Fashion). Added to his published work featuring academic papers, book chapters, teaching cases and industrial reports, he has several collaborations about sustainability, climate change and transparency with organisations including the UN, NGOs, fashion companies and media platforms. He holds a BSc. in Environmental Engineering, an MSc. in Management in Engineering of Energy and Environment, and double degree Ph.D. in Industrial Management.

Hadeel Osman is an award-winning creative director, mentor, stylist and designer. She is the founder and creative director of multidisciplinary creative studio DAVU Studio, country coordinator of Fashion Revolution Sudan, a co-founder of the Slow Fashion Movement Arabic team, and is behind the launch of #AfricaIsNotALandfill to tackle the possibilities of a circular, sustainable fashion ecosystem across Africa and the world. Osman is also on the brink of launching a social enterprise and collaborative fashion projects that look at innovative approaches to fashion design, keeping people, planet and artistry at the core of each function.

Timo Rissanen (PhD) is an educator, scholar, designer and artist. He is an associate professor of fashion and textiles at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS). Prior to UTS, he was an associate professor of fashion design and sustainability at Parsons School of Design and he also served as an associate director of the Tishman Environment and Design Center at The New School. He was born in Finland and trained as a fashion designer at the UTS. Rissanen completed a practice-based PhD on zero waste fashion design at UTS in 2013. As an artist, he has focused on nature, politics and love through installation, performance and cross-stitched poetry. Rissanen co-curated Fashioning Now with Alison Gwilt in 2009 and Yield with Holly McQuillan in 2011, and he has co-published two books on fashion and sustainability, Shaping Sustainable Fashion with Gwilt in 2011 and Zero Waste Fashion Design with McQuillan in 2016.

Karishma Kelsey has a background as a social justice entrepreneur disrupting the fashion industry through ethical practices that aimed to empower and transform everyone from the earth to raw material suppliers, artisans and the wearers. Kelsey has created opportunities for social economic empowerment of previously disadvantaged communities using fair trade practices in Taiwan, Vietnam, Thailand, South Africa, Sri Lanka, and now India by building trusting relationships with artisans and communities, one community at a time. Strongly rooted in the spiritual practice of the interconnection of all life, Kelsey is a proponent of the interbeingness of life, a Buddhist philosophy of sacred interconnection. Rooted in this philosophy is the concept that all change starts within oneself. From this vantage point, she has launched a campaign, called Miraculous Me, advocating for a paradigm shift from mindless consumption of fashion and beauty and the scarcity mindset that this thrives on, to conscious consumption through sacred reconnection to one’s authentic nature. Miraculous Me is conscious style activism, through the journey to self-channelled by the daily creative expression of personal style. In order to balance this equity building life’s mission, Kelsey rounds off her work by working with secondary and tertiary students as a teacher of entrepreneurship and design. In this space, Kelsey has published papers on culturally responsive pedagogies. Her current action research project is on implementing indigenous wisdoms such as Matauranga Maori/Ubuntu frameworks into mainstream education as a pathway to foster innate ethically focused future leaders.

Tone Skårdal Tobiasson is a journalist, author and editor of nicefashion.org. She is based in Oslo, Norway, and was for many years editor of a leading Norwegian fashion magazine, gaining valuable insights into the narrow thought-mode of the industry. Over a decade ago, she switched gears and developed a platform for sharing knowledge surrounding environmental and ethical issues in fashion and textiles, and called it Nordic Initiative Clean and Ethical Fashion. This became an internet site and a tool for both designers and consumers with funding from the Norwegian government. The platform has since moved to Facebook to be more interactive, as other similar initiatives emerged. She has co-authored several books, many on wool and crafts, the latest she co-edited: Local, Slow and Sustainable Fashion: Wool as a Fabric for Change (Palgrave Macmillan). She leads dissemination for research projects generated by several research institutions, including the Consumption Research Norway (SIFO) at OsloMet and is also an expert correspondent for EcoTextile News.

Mathilda Tham’s (PhD) work sits in a positive, feminist, creative and activist space between design, futures studies and sustainability. Her work is informed by metadesign and focuses on creating new legend for socio-material relations. Originally a fashion designer, today she draws on symbolic and performative qualities of fashion in broader remits, such as of building and home making for permaculture and active ageing. She is Professor in Design at Linnaeus University, Sweden, where she has been part of leading the development and implementation of visionary design programmes BA and MA Design + Change and BA Visual Communication + Change. Tham is a co-founder of Småland Living Lab, a regional living lab for futures of sustainability. Publications include Routledge Handbook of Sustainability and Fashion, co-edited with Kate Fletcher, and Earth Logic, also co-written with Fletcher .

Amy Twigger Holroyd (PhD) is a designer, maker, researcher and writer. She is Associate Professor of Fashion and Sustainability at Nottingham Trent University, UK. Holroyd founded her experimental knitwear label, Keep & Share, in 2004, to explore ideas of slowness and craft in relation to fashion and sustainability. Her PhD, completed at Birmingham City University in 2013, formed the basis of her first book, Folk Fashion: Understanding Homemade Clothes, published in 2017. She has since co-edited two further books. The practical side of her doctoral research developed into Reknit Revolution, an ongoing initiative supporting knitters to rework the items in their wardrobes. Current projects include the collaborative leadership of two research networks, Stitching Together and Crafting the Commons, and the development of an initiative that explores fictional storyworlds in order to imagine, experience and analyse alternative fashion systems.


  1. Fashion Act Now: Defashion: A Strategy of Radical Care of People and Planet

Fashion Act Now (FAN) unveils the concept of ‘defashion’ in three parts.

Part 1. A short film: Voices from the Pluriverse

The globalised, monolithic Fashion system has eroded the sustainable and diverse clothing cultures that exist around the world. In this section, we hear three stories of unique clothing cultures: Uli, a Batak weaver from North Sumatra, Indonesia, dreams of continuing her clothing traditions; Matico Lema, a 76-year-old matriarch, elder and community healer, runs a weaving cooperative in the town of Peguche, Ecuador; and Gareth Townshend, a member of FAN in London, struggles to find a way to create clothing locally, using locally grown fibres and dyes. We hear about the parallels in their struggle for these clothing cultures and systems to continue in the midst of our dominant economic system.

Part 2. An interactive panel discussion: ‘How to Support a Post-Fashion Clothing Pluriverse’

In this second section, FAN invites the audience to interactively reflect, learn and strategise ways to take action in support of a post-fashion clothing pluriverse. The facilitated discussion includes FAN members who have worked on Voices from the Pluriverse.

Part 3: A presentation: ‘The Urgent Case for Defashion’

In this final section, FAN members—anthropologist Sandra Niessen and thought leader, Verónica Pesantes Vallejo—conclude by presenting FAN’s theory of change. This presentation explains the emergency we find ourselves in and the root causes, such as economic growth, exploitation, colonisation and enclosures. FAN presents the idea that Fashion (with a capital F) is inextricably linked to exploitative systems and explain that the route towards true justice, care and fairness is therefore to ‘defashion.’ FAN puts forward the idea that Fashion must be dismantled.

Fashion Act Now

Founded in London in 2020, Fashion Act Now (FAN) is a community of activists, thinkers, practitioners, creatives, problem solvers and concerned citizens taking on the most creative brief in fashion: to decouple our clothing culture from the ideology of growth. FAN members are a group over 40, spread across the US, UK, Europe, South Africa, Australia and Indonesia. FAN is a sister group to Extinction Rebellion, a member of the Wellbeing Economy Alliance and a partnering organisation of Remake. FAN has coined the term ‘defashion’ to mark the process of dismantling the dominant, globalised Fashion system, in which new clothing is created for profit over the wellbeing of humanity and ecology. With this, their intention is to celebrate the pluriverse of clothing cultures that are restorative, local, fair, nurturing and sufficient for the needs of communities.

 


  1. Sueli Maxakali: The Struggle and Art of the Maxakali People in Defence of the Land, the Forest and the Spirits

In this programme, Sueli and Isael Maxakali (Teófilo Otoni, Brazil) reflect on the project of Aldeia-Escola-Floresta Hãmkãĩm (Village-School-Forest_Hãmkãĩm) as a way of spreading the cosmovision of Tikmũ’ũn_Maxakali people within the community and beyond. The word Tikmũ’ũn, or Maxakali in Brazilian Portuguese, is a combination of the terms tihik (man) e mu’un (group and inclusion) and can be understood as ‘we.’ It therefore mirrors both practices and ways of living within the community, a myriad of spirit-people from the Atlantic Forest, or the Yãmĩyxop, and their respective sets of chants. As Sueli and Isael Maxakali put it, the school is then ‘a space for exchanging knowledge, reforestation, recover water springs, workshops for art and cinema and to strengthen the musical, ritual and cosmological complex known as yãmĩyxop.’

The first part of the programme presents the pre-recorded conversation ‘Traditional Knowledge and Cosmosciences: Arts and Community Performativities’ (August 2021), in which Sueli and Isael Maxakali explain the importance of their practices within the Village-School-Forest, both for artistic practices and for the awareness of indigenous’ human and land rights.

CREDITS:

Transcriptions and translations:

Renata Marquez (Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais)

Marina Sasseron de Oliveira Cabral (NOT______ENOUGH / co-curator State of Fashion 2022)

  


  1. Ricarda Bigolin & Chantal Kirby: Wearing Out Sovereign

Practising solidarity in fashion can include performative and discursive actions to restore ‘shared consciousness, experience, history’ (Scholz 2008). We question our disconnection to local fashion systems in Australia, as a colonised country unreconciled with indigenous sovereignty. How can we be responsive to other dress practices and complicated histories? The project explores colonial replica costumes from the living museum Sovereign Hill, a few hours outside of Naarm (Melbourne). Depicting the gold rush of the 1850s, settlers migrated here from all over the world. Limited materials fostered extended life use, circularity, second hand economies and dress to deceive or validate identity (Cramer 2017). Costumes are worn and adapted for staff and visitors to the museum. Expending use, repair, mending and refurbishment keep replicas in circulation for decades.

As critical fashion practice D&K, Bigolin and Kirby produce garments parts in response to the replica costumes configured from readily available downcycled rags. At the end of their life as garments worn on the body (Taylor 2017), the rags are compiled to resemble styles, shapes and pattern templates from 1850s dress. Sorting, pressing and categorising reveal past lives and former function. Using these and other reclaimed samples, the pieces reference variances of silhouette and style in this context, difference dictated by status and finitely guarded gender roles.

The presentation includes participatory performance developed at the museum and RMIT University in Naarm. Working with RMIT students and researchers, we examine wearing as embodied research and performance. Getting dressed is a universal experience, as wearers negotiate bodies, age, gender, and sexuality (Woodward 2007). Critical tactics of wearing can increase connections between past and present, surrounding cultures, gendered relations and citizenship (Jungnickel 2020). The performance challenges wearing through types of bodies, action, movement and site. Readings, video documentation and live wearing engages audiences and collectively speculates contested histories of other dress practices.

Ricarda Bigolin

Associate Professor Ricarda Bigolin is a practice-based researcher and educator and the Associate Dean of Fashion and Textiles Design at RMIT University. In her current role, Bigolin leads the strategic direction of the discipline, drawing on diverse critical contexts to expand fashion practice. Her research explores garments, wearables, arts-based and material methods, critical tactics of wearing and performing to reveal relationships between fashion, dress, value and use. Key projects include D&K, a collaborative and critical fashion practice investigating the performative potential of fashion across garments, performance, film, and text. Her research has won international awards and prizes and Bigolin has been commissioned by festivals, museums and universities worldwide. Ricarda maintains ongoing teaching and research collaborations with the Swedish School of Textiles, ArtEZ University of the Arts, PhD research labs with London College of Fashion and Aalto University, and is part of the International Upcycling Research Network led by De Montfort University.

Chantal Kirby

Chantal Kirby is a designer, educator, currently undertaking a PhD by practice on materials and value to contest the luxury of fashion at the School of Fashion and Textiles, RMIT University. As well as being a core collaborator with Bigolin on D&K, Kirby has collaborated on various exhibitions and performances. For the exhibition Passageways: On fashion runway, curated by Matthew Linde for the Kunsthalle Bern Switzerland, a series of replicas of an original Paul Poiret dress were developed using found material. Prior to working as an educator, Kirby was co-founding member of Material by Product with Susan Dimasi. As an Australian fashion practice, it questioned practices of luxury fashion via transformative uses of materials and upheaving pattern and construction models. MBP innovated alternative production methods such as zero-waste cutting, models for use, re-use and circularity of scraps and garments post use held in the NGV collection, Melbourne. 


  1. IRO IRO / Bhaavya Goenka: Decolonizing Materials

This project is part of an ongoing research project being pioneered by the Jaipur-based circular design practice of Bhaavya Goenka, IRO IRO.

IRO IRO up-cycles textile waste (pre-consumer and post-consumer) using indigenous knowledge and practices of India. In pursuit of fairer and more transparent fashion industry and to build camaraderie, we also collaborate with other businesses to upcycle their waste into functional art pieces (fashion and interior) and help them go circular. We have collaborated with Calico, Japan; Matter prints, Singapore; Doodlage, India; The Summer House, India; The House of MG, India, among others. Collaborations are impactful in advocating responsible design and give our artisans and us an opportunity to practice and keep defining what a refined fabric is when it is made from waste. So far, we have upcycled about 10 tonnes of waste off-cuts into handcrafted fabrics saving 200 tonnes of CO2 from entering the atmosphere over the past three years and generated work for 20 artisans based in a village near Jaipur.

Set against the backdrop of a handloom weaver family in the Chomu municipality of Jaipur, this project seeks to ‘re-introduce’ the indigenous fibre aakh to the textile and weaving industry, specifically its viability as an indigenous, environmentally viable fibre. Aakh is not an unfamiliar fibre; like many others, it too was retired from the handloom and replaced rapidly by cotton and industrial looms during the colonial period. Now, seven decades after independence, it is time to give aakh a second lease of life, especially as discussions on innovation and future planning, indigenous wisdom and sustainability take centre-stage in the craft and design community.

There exists a considerable amount of indigenous knowledge about this fibre, among the weaving community that we engage with, and we would like to use this opportunity to try and reintroduce the fibre, and with it the craft tradition that thrived here before the advent of industrialisation and raw cotton.

IRO IRO now functions as a zero-waste lifestyle and fashion design practice. IRO IRO has been featured in many reputed publications and received award nominations from esteemed platforms, such as Lakmé fashion week, Lexus design award.

Bhaavya Goenka

Bhaavya Goenka works in the field of Circular Design, specialising in the reuse and upcycling of industrial textile waste through indigenous craft practices of India, building replicable systems that allow decentralised development while creating conversational products through zero-waste practices. Goenka enjoys designing fashion and textile that is environmentally, socially and culturally responsible while communicating unique stories that are important to me in an emotionally engaging aesthetic. Goenka is a graduate in craft design with a specialization in textiles from the IICD, India. Her subject of study involves design intervention in traditional Indian crafts to bring contemporary context to them and develop products and services with these traditional practices that have greater relevance in the times of today. At her graduation, she won the gold medal for Academic Excellence (2013-2017). She was also selected (with scholarship) to be a part of the CLLB (creative management) course from the IIM-A and received the best project award for her submission ‘Iro Iro: Crafting Fashion out of Waste.’ 


  1. House of reFashion: Radical Care: Protest and Social Change through Fashion 

The House of reFashion project, which launched in 2018, aims to call attention to the history of textiles on both a global and domestic scale, and within a mythical and everyday context, to demonstrate that fashion can be a powerful collective and creative force for change.

All of us need clothing, and many of us love and desire clothing, fashion and textiles. It is an essential element of human culture and of individual expression. It is a part of our identity and daily life, yet on a global scale, it has become viciously cruel and destructive. In our clothing choices lies the potential to create enormous social and environmental change. Our collective actions can lead to a more sustainable, equitable world. How can we harness the power of fashion to transform hegemonic mainstream narratives?

The online workshop is structured in three segments.

First, we provide a historical overview of fashion’s subversive potential and role in social change and protest with a focus on contemporary examples of advocacy through public space interventions and social media, including examples from the work of House of reFashion and other means by which fashion and textiles have been a part of advocacy and social engagement. We hear about knowledge and experiences that broaden the discussion of how fashion and protests can promote social change.

Second, we discuss one issue that people care deeply about and that urgently demands radical change—different practices, concerns, and experiences related to the powerful role of fashion and textiles in social, economic and political dynamics. We explore the various ways in which one can raise awareness, advocate for change or promote wider discussion about strategic widespread toxic practices in the fashion industry. We begin building a radically transformative new way of experiencing and sharing fashion.

Third, we discuss and design an advocacy campaign and sketch designs for a protest look or line. Guidelines are provided to facilitate this process to help define message, visuals, media, location and duration.

Maria Juliana Byck

Maria Juliana Byck is an ethical fashion designer, social practice artist and activist based in Athens, Greece. She launched the House of reFashion project in 2018 after her first sustainable fashion intervention Refashion: for a Post Capitalist World. In 2022, she published #ProjectSemedaki. The book documents her sustainable and creative reuse initiatives which centre on upcycling fashion as a way to connect neighbourhoods, and textiles as a way to share cultural heritage and skills. The book explores our intimate relationships with textiles and the emotional, social and environmental impact of fast fashion and mass consumption of our disposable culture. It does so through topics such as fashion and social change, gender dynamics and fluctuating value in the history of textiles production, to the dualism assumed between fine art (haute couture) and crafts, the queering of cultural heritage textiles.

Through her work, the ubiquitous but devalued Greek traditional handmade domestic textiles—the semedakia—functions as a symbol of the work, creativity, technical knowledge, and innovation shared between generations of textile workers over thousands of years. Her community-based projects and public space interventions advocate for simple, healing and collective alternatives to the toxic practices, wastefulness, and exploitation of the global textile industry. Created in collaboration with models of all shapes and gender expressions, the unique 100% recycled clothing designs reflects the diverse social composition of the neighbourhoods where the projects take place. It also challenges the notions of gender, beauty and identity within the fashion system, inspiring us to rethink our relationship to each other, through clothing and textiles. 


  1. Amy Twigger Holroyd: Fashion Fictions

Amy Twigger Holroyd’s international participatory research project, Fashion Fictions, responds to the urgent need for change in the mainstream globalised fashion system by bringing people together to generate, experience and reflect on engaging fictional visions of alternative fashion worlds.

The project’s participatory process for collective speculation has a three-stage structure. In Stage 1, contributors submit concise written outlines of worlds in which invented historical junctures have led to familiar-yet-strange sustainable cultures and systems. In Stage 2, participants create visual and material prototypes to represent these worlds, while in Stage 3’s ‘everyday dress’ projects, practices and events from the fictional fashion systems are performatively enacted.

Participants are guided through a playful and collaborative process to create new Stage 1 outlines of fictional fashion worlds. The workshop builds solidarity through asynchronous but connected creative action: participants will be encouraged to respond to and remix elements of the 150+ outlines already submitted to the project to generate their new fictions.

We explore a map of themes that have been generated through analysis of the first 120 fictions. The themes provide insights into the range and scope of contributors’ imagined alternatives and can be used to identify both gaps in the collective set of visions and particular elements of interest. Participants are encouraged to each select one or more existing worlds to remix, identified either via the map or by reviewing a randomly assigned shortlist, and to rewrite, adapt, combine or otherwise remix the fiction(s) to suit their own interests, priorities and lived experiences.

At the end of the workshop, participants are encouraged to contribute their outlines to the project’s repository of worlds. Each new fiction is credited to both the original contributor(s) and the remixer.

Dr Amy Twigger Holroyd

Dr Amy Twigger Holroyd is Associate Professor of Fashion and Sustainability at Nottingham School of Art & Design, part of Nottingham Trent University. She has explored the emerging field of fashion and sustainability since 2004. Holroyd is currently undertaking a Research, Development and Engagement Fellowship, funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Council. Her Fellowship project, Fashion Fictions, aims to reshape possibilities for sustainable fashion, from incremental changes to the design and manufacture of clothes to radically different ways of fashioning our identities. Other initiatives include Reknit Revolution, a project supporting knitters to rework the items in their wardrobes, and research networks Crafting the Commons and Stitching Together. Amy is the author of Folk Fashion: Understanding Homemade Clothes (I.B. Tauris, 2017). A new co-authored book, Historical Perspectives on Sustainable Fashion, will be published by Bloomsbury Academic in 2023.


Live Roundtable Discussions

  1. Setting the Stage: A conversation with Sanne Karssenberg, Andrea Chehade Barroux, Zinzi de Brouwer, Aurélie Van de Peer & Louise Croff Blake, moderated by Daniëlle Bruggeman.

During the ‘Setting the Stage’ part of the plenary programme, we offered an in-depth introduction of the theme of solidarity in relation to fashion from multiple perspectives. We did so by drawing upon what we developed during the research projects ‘Solidarity in Fashion’ and ‘Practicing Solidarity,’ led by the ArtEZ Fashion Professorship.

‘Setting the Stage’ is a conversation with a couple of core contributors of these research projects and we’ve invited Louise Croff Blake to join this conversation as we believe they bring in a valuable additional perspective.

Daniëlle Bruggeman started with a brief introduction on the urgency of practising solidarity in relation to fashion, and on the non-solidary strategies of how the dominant fashion industry operates right now. And then she opened up the conversation on topics such as creating space for unheard voices and marginalised perspectives, the notions of ‘selfing’ and ‘unselfing,’ non-Western solidary systems, and centring queer perspectives.

  1. Solidarity in Practice: A conversation with Toton Januar and Schepers Bosman

Toton Januar

Born in Makassar, Indonesia, and raised by his seamstress single mother, Toton Januar developed a fascination with the artisanal aspect of design at a young age. He relocated to Jakarta to study Media Broadcasting while working as a designer for one of Indonesia’s most prominent fashion designers. After studying fashion at Parsons School of Design in New York, TOTON was founded in 2012 with Haryo Balitar. In 2016, the brand won the Woolmark Asia Award in 2016 with a collaboration with artisans in West Java.

Januar and Balitar have always committed to work as much as possible with Indonesia’s local artisans and factories. This relationship between TOTON and these artisans directly affects their livelihoods. TOTON believes that the natural craftsmanship process which mostly uses organic materials has to be preserved to lessen the environmental damage caused by big factories and irresponsible use and waste of chemicals.

Since 2017, TOTON has been incorporating recycled and upcycled materials in its collection, with a crafts approach done by artisans in Indonesia. This is a small step toward being sustainable and kinder to the environment. They do not claim to be a ‘sustainable brand,’ yet acknowledging that they still have so much more to learn and do. Their goal is to work almost exclusively with local artisans and source everything locally with a green footprint. Their hope is to promote Indonesia’s heritage and culture to preserve customs and crafts for the next generation to inherit and evolve.

Schepers Bosman

Dutch denim, visible constructions, irregular pattern cutting and colourful patchworks are the signatures of Dutch designer brand Schepers Bosman. They make fashion, rather than talk about it, drawing inspiration from the workplace, new techniques, unique materials and garment constructions.

Headquartered in a unique circular proto building in the Southern Netherlands, Schepers Bosman designs, develops and manufactures joyous minimalist collections and big textile collages with an artisanal feel, crafted from special Dutch made denim and European woven materials. Schepers Bosman’s durable garments are designed to become instant classics in a permanent collection.

All Schepers Bosman’s garments and collections are designed, developed and manufactured in the Netherlands. Collection presentations and wholesale take place in Paris, during menswear fashion week.

  1. A conversation with: Chepkemboi J. Mang’ira (OwnYourCulture) and Louise Croff Blake

OwnYourCulture

Chepkemboi J. Mang’ira is the founder of OwnYourCulture, an online platform that promotes African art, fashion and design from pre-colonial Kenya. She is a journalist by profession with a keen interest in African art and fashion. She curates art and fashion exhibits focusing solely on ethically produced work in Kenya that pay homage to their heritage. Furthermore, she is involved in various platforms that advocate ownership of African narratives, from online groups to physical forums around Africa.

She is tackling the subject of identity and belonging, in a post-colonial, globalized world through the #OwnYourCulture online campaign, the aim of which is to reverse the negative effects of colonialism in fashion and art in Kenya.

Louise Croff Blake

Louise Croff Blake is a trans-non-binary designer, artist, researcher, and writer with a focus on intersectional sustainability. They embed a queering approach to both their creative and academic work, applying lessons from their lived experiences to generate playful subversions wherever possible. In their research, this approach translates to queer methodologies, wilfully disrupting traditional academic protocol. As a maker, they use fashion and illustration as mediums for inventing queer mythologies, a canon of stories to help other queers to navigate the decay of late-stage capitalism. As a community organiser, Blake has been involved for over a decade in DIY collectives and communities of practice, including Lion’s Main Art Collective, TUF Collective, The Hologram, and their MA thesis practicum, The Rolodex of Radical Design. They find their greatest sense of purpose in these collaborative settings, where peers co-learn how to implement radical politics on a practical, creative level, and prefigure queer utopias.

Radioshow/podcast ‘Laverie Sentimentale,’ developed by Anna Piroshka Toth

Laverie Sentimentale is a radio programme that aims to become a space of resonance by bringing back the relationalities that existed through and within the performance of the collective labour of cleaning and caring for clothes. Its first iteration will be held at state of fashion, in the Vébé van Steijn Laundry in the city of Arnhem, a laundromat that used to welcome the first sex workers of Spijkerstraat and still pays tribute to them with the machines bearing their names. In order to turn the neutral, functional, individualising environment of the laundromat into a gathering site that allows us to nurture both collectivity and intimacy, Laverie Sentimentale will welcome various sonic propositions around and about emotional stains imbued in garments and the many facets of the act of cleaning.

Anna Piroshka Toth

Hungarian born Anna Piroska Toth lives and works between Amsterdam and Paris. After studying communication and aesthetics at the Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest, she moved to Paris where she earned an MA degree at the Institut des Sciences Politiques (Sciences Po) and worked as a creative in the fashion and luxury segment. Her need for questioning, thirst for the poetic and growing involvement in various art projects strengthened her aspiration to choose the path of artistic research and practice. Currently, she is finishing her studies at the Dutch Art Institute (Master Art Praxis).

In her practice, she uses multiple ways of listening and attuning to human and non-human bodies, spirits, spaces and turns to various forms of expression (poetry, photography, voice and sound, gestures or rituals) to create an atmosphere where something or someone from elsewhere can be present. She sings in Sonic Witch Choir, an experimental female ensemble born from a collective research into sound waves and the voice as a guide for composing with the human and non-human, the foreign and familiar and creating a common landscape. Toth is a member of Meduse MagiQ, a sound collective and space for female musicians and sound artists with a studio and record label in Amsterdam, as well as MORE Projects, an artist collective based in France, which is a nomadic platform for creating, producing and diffusing contemporary art.

Daniëlle Bruggeman

Daniëlle Bruggeman is a cultural theorist and Professor of Fashion at ArtEZ University of the Arts, Arnhem. She teaches on the M.A. Fashion Strategy at ArtEZ and leads the Centre of Expertise Future Makers. The Fashion Professorship aims to develop critical theories and practices in order to explore, better understand, and rethink the cracks in the fashion system and the role that fashion plays—and could potentially play—in relation to urgent socio-cultural, environmental and political developments in contemporary society. Bruggeman holds a PhD in Cultural Studies, which was part of the first large-scale interdisciplinary research project on fashion in the Netherlands, ‘Dutch Fashion Identity in a Globalised World’ (2010-2014) at Radboud University in Nijmegen, which was funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research. She has been a visiting scholar at Parsons New School for Design (NYC) and at the London College of Fashion. She has published on topics like the fluid, performative and embodied dimensions of identity, (Dutch) fashion photography, and fashion as a new materialist aesthetics. Her publication Dissolving the Ego of Fashion: Engaging with Human Matters (ArtEZ Press, 2018) presents the main research themes of the Fashion Professorship.