Andean Culture, Fashion and Sustainability

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This October I spent a remarkable couple of weeks in Chile exploring its capital, Santiago, and the far North East of the country. High in the North I spent time with a group of wonderful, resolute, jovial Aymara weavers and their landscape of the high plateau of the Atacama Desert (thank you to all my companions, to the British Council for its generous support and to Gabriela Farias Zurita for instigating it!). My trip was designed around a series of events to galvanise ideas and action around fashion and sustainability in Latin America, with Santiago at its hub. To inspire a revolution-of-sorts in a continent that loves a revolution… heaven! And before that to get a sense of the place. To feel and experience what sustainability in this context is and could be.

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This October = Chile + Fashion + Sustainability

From 11th – 24th October I will be in Chile taking part in a number of events and activities celebrating sustainability and fashion as a fusion of the traditional and progressive. Come and take part in a series of events that mark out Chile as at the centre of fashion-sustainability activity in Latin America, including a free public lecture in Santiago on 21st October; a panel discussion on the morning of the 22nd involving politicians, psychologists and designers; and workshops also on 22nd October, for which you must register.

Before that though I will spend some time with weavers in the far North of the country in the Atacama Desert. And even before that you can read a piece in the Chilean newspaper El Mercurio about my visit (p14 onwards).

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Craft of Use on BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour


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Follow the link below to listen here to my interview about the Craft of Use and long lasting garments with Jenni Murray for Woman’s Hour on BBC Radio 4, broadcast on 21st April 2014. The conversation included Melanie Rickey, one of the founding editors of Grazia Magazine and chair of a recent discussion on fashion and sustainability at the 2014 Women of the World Festival on London’s South Bank.

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Photography by Agnes Lloyd Platt for Local Wisdom, 2014.

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Fashion Revolution Day 2014

Today is the first anniversary of the Rana Plaza clothing factory collapse in Bangladesh were more than 1100 people died, over twice that number were injured and around 800 children orphaned; tied into a global system based on production of cheap clothes that are ‘consumed’ in high volumes in the West (see an earlier post here). It is both a day for reflection and action. For reflection on the relationship fashion has with its supply chain, with citizens, with the environments in which resources are cultivated and utilised. And for action, for to wear clothes is to realise the agency inherent in getting dressed each day, the political power, the potential to act in ways other than that which the dominant system assumes we will. And so on 24th April, on Fashion Revolution Day, garments are being worn inside out, to reveal the label, the seams, the stitching and labour ‘hidden’ in the garment, and to put pressure on the brands who sell us these clothes to be transparent about their supply chain. The hope is that such openness leads to improvement (see related post on transparency here). That the attention that full disclosure brings, creates a flow of positive energy for change. Only then perhaps we can begin to honour the memory of those who lost their lives in the Rana Plaza complex and the numerous other workplace tragedies that have taken place in recent years.

Numerous resources are available online for more information about Rana Plaza and Fashion Revolution Day, including the Shirt on Your Back interactive documentary from the Guardian.

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Craft of Use Event: ‘creativity and concern’

The day-long Craft of Use event at London College of Fashion marking the culmination of the latest phase of research on the Local Wisdom project, passed by in a whirlwind of performance theatre, presentations, interactive workshops, sound installation, discussion and poetry by the remarkable Sabrina Mahfouz written for and on the day. The writer and design thinker John Thackara commented about the event that, “It felt as if a huge, immobile mass (the inevitability of growth and destruction) was creaking and cracking as if ready to fall away…”. And for Avner Offer, Chichele Professor Emeritus of Economic History at University of Oxford, it was “deeply satisfying… to be immersed in so much joy. Beyond expectations: an oasis of creativity and concern.”

A summary of the day will be available soon. And the Craft of Use book will be published by Routledge in 2015.

All images by Ana Escobar.

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Craft of Use Event… easing in

We are  almost set and already raring to go for the Local Wisdom project’s ‘Craft of Use‘ Event at London College of Fashion on 26th March.

Stellar line-up of speakers and performers including Jonathan Porritt, Avner Offer, Zakee ShariffSabrina Mahfouz and Dilys Williams. Also featuring sound installation, performance art and a wealth interactive workshops all designed to explore use of fashion rather than its ownership. Or to put it another way, to celebrate fashion as a process and not just a product. Follow our progress on facebook, twitter and of course on the Local Wisdom website.

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Fashion and Sustainability at Women of the World Festival

London’s wonderful Women of the World Festival is putting on a fashion a sustainability panel on Sunday 9th March at 1pm. Come and take part in the ‘Louboutins and Landfill: How to be a Sustainable Fashionista‘ discussion chaired by Melanie Rickey, one of the founding editors of Grazia magazine and featuring Jacqueline Shaw, Abigail Chisman, Carry Somers and myself. WOW runs from 5-9 March at the South Bank Centre.

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