Short interview in November 17’s Marie Claire Spain. English translation below.
“Don’t associate fashion with shopping”
Q. Do you think we will see a significant change in the fashion industry in the next 20 years?
Will there see significant changes in the fashion industry in the next 20 years? Yes. Categorically yes. There is no culture, including fashion culture, without nature. And yet ‘nature’ – the ecological systems that support, underpin and enthuse our lives – is changing fast. Turn on the news and this change is everywhere: the shocking frequency of severe weather events; mass extinctions of biological species; the presence of tiny plastic particles in every aquatic environment, including the water we drink. Human activity is now the most powerful force shaping global natural systems and these ecological systems in turn govern human activity. Change to the fashion sector is underway because we are beginning to understand that the quality of our future lives is influenced by our current behaviours. Having more now will damage the security of our lives tomorrow. Industry will support such change because, after all, there is no business to be done on a dead planet. Change will be dramatic, wholesale and exciting. It will affect the size and scale of the industry and the very idea of fashion itself.
Q. How would your “true materialism” concept help that change?
True materialism is a wake-up call. We all have so many material things. New phones, cars, clothes… But even in the midst of so many material possessions, it seems that we are not materialistic enough! For we know very little about the stuff we have, where it came from, who made it, how to care for it, maintain it, live with it over time. True materialism is a movement that encourages a new and deeper reverence for material goods like clothing. It’s a shift towards a different relationship with fashion that is a delicate balance between the pleasure we get out of things and the pleasure we get out of freedom from things.
Q. How do you see us, the fashion consumers, in 20 or 25 years time?
In 20 years time I see all of us who wear clothes as being emancipated from the idea that fashion is shopping. Fashion is many things, not just buying new pieces. In two decades, we will have thrown off the idea that we are ‘consumers’, negotiating the world through money and the market place. Instead it will be as citizens in a changing world that we act and from there figure out where clothes fit into the mix and how money can be made from their creation and use.
Rather than continually making more clothes using more materials, there should be a greater emphasis on how clothes can be lived with, tended and used. The Professor of Sustainability, Design and Fashion at University of the Arts London presents an inspiring manifesto for satisfaction and resourcefulness in the fashion industry.
With huge delight I can announce that the much anticipated book the Craft of Use: Post-Growth Fashion is now published! It features many of the stories of using clothes gathered as part of the Local Wisdom project along with work from seven international teams of designers and specially commissioned work from fashion photography Kerry Dean.
The Craft of Use event that took place at London College of Fashion in March has been summarised in image, word and video and is available online. It is a foretaste of the Craft of Use book about fashion that it is revitalised by resource scarcity to be published in 2015 by Routledge.
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.
A massive thank you to all those who shared stories of how they use their garments in Wellington and Melbourne over the last few weeks as part of the Local Wisdom project. And of course huge appreciation to the teams working at Massey in New Zealand led by Holly McQuillan and Jen Whitty and at RMIT in Australia co-ordinated by Jo Cramer. Photos and stories from both places available on the Local Wisdom website within the month… here’s a taster of some of the Wellington images, photography by Aliscia Young.
The knowledge, skills and ideas of the Craft of Usehave a new platform on the web!
The Craft of Use explores resourceful garment use practices as one way to challenge the dependency of the fashion industry on increasing material throughput. Its proposition is that sustained attention to tending and using garments, we can create an alternative set of experiences of fashion provision and consumption.
They are the spiritual and intellectual home – the ‘mothership’ – of some of my other work in design for sustainability, most notably the Local Wisdomproject.
The Local Wisdom project returns to London on 5th December 2012 to take photographs and gather more stories of the ‘craft of use’ of the general public. We’ll be at the Carnaby Book Exchange in Kingly Court (between Regent Street and Carnaby Street) between midday and 7pm. Please come along and share with us how you use clothes and get your portait taken in your piece! More on the London photoshoot including exact location and categories listing the sort of things we are looking for can be found here.