It was recorded by artist Russell Martin and documents several TED members discussion about the idea of 'slow' in their practice as textile designers.
Becky Earley has been up in York presenting at the Japanese Sashiko textiles conference which coincides with a major exhibition of sashiko textiles at York Art Gallery. Becky presented her Top 100 upcycled polyester shirt project, which is currently on show at the Taking Time: Craft and the Slow Revolution exhibition in Birmingham.
The word 'sashiko' means small stitches and the curator of the exhibition Michele Walker, had studied English quilting techniques and saw the similarities - both techniques had arisen out of necessity and had involved women who were creating new garments from old clothes and textiles, mostly cotton workwear. As Michele Walker explains, "Sashiko evolved from a need
to conserve and repair garments at a time when cloth was a precious commodity".
Becky's pioneering work re-using polyester blouses is set in a completely different historical and cultural context to Japanese sashiko, however the same motivations apply - how to reuse textile waste and to conserve resources. However, Becky has taken on one of the hardest challenges for a designer in the current context - how to re-use the excessive amounts of polysters which exist in the UK, as over 50% of the world's fibre production is petroleum based.
Becky's Top 100 work has also been made into a 'digital book' which is currently showing alongside the pieces in Birmingham, and the book will be available online shortly.
There will be a seminar to introduce the studentship, for MA students, on Friday 27th November, 16.00-18.00, at the Innovation Centre, Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design. There will be some talks from academics including Rebecca Earley from TED who will talk on recycling polyester and Carole Collett from CSM will discuss biomimicry.
For more information on the seminar email Itamar Ferrer at firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information in the studentship go to the TFRG website.
Becky, Kate Goldsworthy and Clara Vuletich gave an evening presentation to students titled IMPACT: The Lifecycle of Textiles and the following day a workshop which explored the design themes being explored in Ever & Again, including Upcycling, Ethical Production, Short/Long life, Systems and Services Design and New Technologies.
Students worked towards developing an idea for a 'real-world 'concept, or new business model, which combined some or all of these design strategies.
TED member Professor Kay Politowicz was in China last week presenting a paper at 'Design for Tomorrow's Customers Today: ', a conference organised by Creative Connexions, who aim to promote the benefits of using the UK's creative talent to China.
Co-written with Rebecca Earley, the presentation was titled Sustainability and Enterprise:Testing the Theories with Design and explores several 'sustainability design stories' that TED has developed.
Bridget Harvey wrote: One of the highlights of the London Design Festival last week for us here at TED, were the events being organised at the Design Council called Greengaged . One of the days we attended was 'Crafting Mass Production', which proposed to look at "how craft sensibilities and values can be brought to a mass production scale". Basically, they argued that craft is bringing the love back into design!
The collective has been formed by five textile graduates from Chelsea, whose creative 'make-do' attitude has inspired them to join together to create unique and considerate textiles.
They are also passionate about passing on their textile skill and knowledge and are developing a series of 'pop-up' workshops.
The idea behind Conversations on (a) Slow Craft was to take a group of textile designers and send them on a barge trip along a canal, while they discussed Slow and what it means to them and their practice as textile designers. The TED group were also joined by wallpaper designer Linda Florence, furniture maker David Gates and the whole conversation was audio recorded by artist Russell Martin.
The group were then led through a workshop in Japanese Sashiko embroidery by Emma Neuberg, which is part of her Extended Life textile workshop series.
The idea is for the format to be repeated at the different cities where the Taking Time exhibit tours to. A group of jewellers may all travel together on a horse and cart and talk about Slow or a group of ceramicists on bikes.
The audio recordings and transcriptions of the conversation will be available soon. In the meantime, there are some previous audio recordings of conversations between artists about Slow on the Taking Time website.
One of the most interesting points of the day was the Ethical Marketing workshop ran by Rosemary Varley from London College of Fashion. Rosemary ran the participants through ten key areas ranging from new marketing concepts such as social networking and viral marketing, to the importance of embedding ethical consciousness into young students. After a very vibrant brainstorming session and a super speedy evaluation, the question left on everyone's minds was -How ethical is marketing itself?
Towards the end of the day, Liz and Hannah from FEI encouraged everyone to take part in an open discussion where eight subjects of debate were raised and the participants split into groups to discuss the topics. I followed Dan Godfrey to a table where he asked the question- Can we educate communities and consumers on ethical fashion concepts, not just fashion students?
Many people had comments to make. Rachel Hearson from the Fair Trade Foundation explained how they have actively educated people on fair trade cotton since 2005. Dan Godfrey told us that Dudley Council currently runs textiles workshops educating communities about sustainability and Emma Neuberg enlightened us with news about her exciting and increasingly popular Extended Life Textiles Workshops running through her Slow Textiles Group.
The day was also to launch the Sustainable Fashion: A Handbook for Educators, which includes a comprehensive reading list on sustainable fashion and textiles developed by Caryn Simonson, Course Director in Textiles at Chelsea, which is available via the FEI website.
In order to raise money for the Akanksha Foundation one New Yorker is wearing an identical dress for 365 days, making a statement against fast fashion and trends while also showing a commitment to dressing individually without having to own lots of different garments, shopping for and discarding items all the time.
She has 7 identical dresses (one for each day of the week) and donated, thrifted or pre-owned accessories to adorn herself with. The dress itself is a well thought out design. It is reversable and can be worn open or buttoned, the material has been chosen for its seasonal versatility and it is a fairly classic design enabling the dressing up or down for all occasions.
Although washing the dress after each wear is not the most eco-friendly idea the whole concept of the uniform project is a very interesting comment on consumerism and individuality from a sustainable perspective.
Ethical clothing label Howies have launched a new clothing range called Hand Me Down. It comprises of a small collection of 'long life' garments including a jacket for men and women, and three types of bags – a backpack, messenger bag and a satchel.
Each item is guaranteed for 10 years from the purchase date but is expected to last a lot longer than that. The idea is also that you can hand it on to someone else when you are finished with it. As it is designed to have a future heritage value it may inspire you to treasure it more, adding to its emotional value. Your choice of recipient is likely to be careful selected, and its modern design (laptop pockets etc) mean that this is also a functional, practical item.
As most companies would prefer you to buy new goods from them rather than keeping something for a decade or more, this collection is somewhat an anomaly in the retail world.
Howies look upon it as good use of our limited resources. These items also have Slow Design connotations, as the materials and design have been chosen to have longevity – the organic ventile cotton is exceptionally tough, the location and environmental production values are taken into consideration - the tweed is produced in Scotland and dyed with woad, a natural dye with an indigo style colour to it and the zips, buckles etc designed to be rust-proof and long lasting. All part of Howie's desire to make people think about the world we live in, and, in my opinion, a good way to do it.
The group had assempled in a room and the package sent from Chile was ceremoniously opened. The object that each designer chose by 'lucky dip' , is the one they now have to work on. Most of the objects seemed to be parts or forms from old shoes, either trainers or footbal shoes.
"Whether they develop and negotiate international industrial resources or work with both the amateur enthusiast and the brilliant scientists, they all create extraordinary things in radical ways."
The work will include a new collection from product designers Committee which imagines a future where plastic has become a rare material; a site-specific wall of interactive tiles from textile designer Linda Florence and glass work from Geoffrey Mann, who mixes new technologies like CAD modelling and rapid prototyping with hand craftmanship.
The exhibition launches at the Jerwood Space on June 10th and there will also be a series of talks and panel discussions led by Rebecca Earley. For more information see Jerwood Contemporary Makers.
On the main website there are several informative areas to guide the conscientious follower of sustainable textile and fashion design, through the most recenet topics, events and the complex issues discussed on the Ethical Fashion Forum. This site covers many issues from fast fashion to fair trade, from recycling to real-life stories from the manufacturing process.
The Resource section is particularly useful as reports regarding the different stages of a garment's life from supply to buy have been compiled in easy to download PDF formats.
The Ethical Fashion Forum also conducts several events throughout the year. Places at the workshops and seminars, like the ones being held today on working with cooperatives and sourcing from Asia are limited and are like gold dust, so it's a good idea to register early! I unfortunatley, haven't registered early enough and so will miss the discussion tonight, but Clara has informed me that the EFF events she has attended previously have all been very stimulating, informative and interactive, so definitely worth penciling the next one in the diary now!
The social networking side to the forum site is somewhat new to me. I have joined facebook (so that my sister can send me photos) and I do read blogs on various design-led sites, but I have never really socially networked in an online environment before.....I love it! Already, I love it! There are lots of friendly, proactive members working in areas of fashion design, consumption and retail. Various discussions are set up to allow people with similar interests to interact on a professional yet informal level and lots of people seem keen to collaborate, share ideas and develop their projects with a little help from their forum. It is also a great place to integrate student desingers with professionals in the field, which is a hugely important initiative if you ask us at TED.
Image credit: Ruffle skirt £40 by Round London
The conference was opened by director Hannah Higginson, who advised that global sourcing was the theme of the day bringing together speakers from all areas of the supply chain.
The audience consisted of fashion, marketing and business students as well as industry experts and designers. You could feel the tension in the audience as these difficult issues were discussed and feel the genuine passion for fairer and more ethical approaches to be applied within the fashion industry.
The speakers talked about the difficulties surrounding production methods, working conditions and global sourcing. There was a representative from ASDA who talked about their plan to be the number one retailer for women’s fashion in the UK by producing quick affordable fashion in an ethical way.
A representative from People Tree talked about their grass roots approach to re-skill workers whom they refer to as artisans. They talked about their application of traditional handcraft and how it can take ten times longer to produce clothing but this is more sustainable as they eloquently referred to our hands being the oldest source of renewable energy.
One of the most inspiring talks of the day was by Dr Kate Fletcher, reader in sustainable fashion and textiles at London College of Fashion. She talked about systems thinking and the complexity of the fashion industry. Kate advised that we should not look for and can not find one complete solution but instead seek out ways to inspire and initiate lots of small changes, as this can collectively inspire big change.
The day closed with delegates being divided into three workshops focusing on design, marketing and business. In teams we were challenged to address an ethical fashion dilemma. I really enjoyed this part of they day as I got to meet new people who were passionate about fashion but committed to finding ethical ways to make, consumer or engage.
Overall this was a great day I left feeling really inspired, more educated about ethical sourcing and I even made some new friends. The day offered a holistic view of the sustainable issues challenging the fashion industry and I think it motivated delegates to find small ways to contribute towards making a difference.
Visit their website for further resources
Julia Wolny explained that there are several different models for co-design in this context:
Co-creation of a service: Zafu, is a company who recommend a style/type of jean that suits what a consumer may be looking for.
Co-creation of fashion ‘looks’: My Virtual Model is a service which gives you a 3D model to play around with clothing items. It started as a site to sell clothes from different retailers but has also developed an online community who simply share their favourite existing outfits.
Co-creation of a product: There are several examples of this idea where companies ask consumers to have a say in the colour or ‘cosmetic’ decisions of a product, like the Reebok trainers which you can choose the colour combinations for.
Consumer as designer: Ponoko is a company which makes interior products based on a customer's design. They also sell designer/makers work and helps consumers to manufacture and distribute a product.
Threadless are a successful Tshirt company who allow the consumer to choose/vote on a favourite design for a tshirt. The design with the most votes is put into production.
In the past, fashion brands may have run focus groups with consumers to gauge what they wanted from a product, but the Internet has made it much easier to facilitate a more open-source approach to including consumers in the design, development and manufacture of a product.
However, how realistic are these ideas? Julia Wolny asked the most obvious question: Are consumers creative? Do we really believe that consumers will want/be able to get involved and contribute to the design and manufacturing process of fashion garments?
Will our modern lifestyles, with the lack of time and lack of incentive to 'customise', prevent this format from becoming mainstream?
Time will tell, but if the commercial success of an interactive enterprise like Threadless is anything to go by, fashion consumers are keen to get more involved.
The first class is called 'Extended Life Textile Techniques', and focuses on Chinese silk painting and embroidery. Emma will lead you through the the basics of Chinese floral symbols and teach you how to paint on paper and silk, finishing with some embroidery techniques.
Also planned is a Slow Textile Sewing Group, which will meet up regularly to sew and socialise.
I recently attended one of Emma's lectures to Stage 1 students here at Chelsea called Flora & Flight: the semiotiocs of naturalism in textile print and it was a fascinating analysis of the use of floral motifs in textiles and fashion, and the symbolism around abundance, fertility and nature which came out of our pre-industrial lifestyles.
Emma has her own practice involving the reappropriation of plastics into beautiful surfaces and textiles, but she also brings this rich and varied knowledge about design history, psychoanalysis and materials (among other things!). It is such an interesting mix and these textile classes are not something to be missed.
For more information on the classes and to book go to: http://www.slowtextiles.blogspot.com