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Day 6: Fashion Revolution

published on 6 May 2019

Explore day six of the Fashion Revolution Tumblr curation, a collection of articles, quotes, images and resources that tell a different story about the clothes we wear, and inspire change in the fashion industry.

Explore day six of the Fashion Revolution Tumblr curation, a collection of articles, quotes, images and resources that tell a different story about the clothes we wear, and inspire change in the fashion industry.


7. Fashion never unnecessarily destroys or discards but mindfully redesigns and recuperates in a circular way. Fashion is repaired, reused, recycled and upcycled. Our wardrobes and landfills do not overflow with clothes that are coveted but not cherished, bought but not kept.

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8. Fashion is transparent and accountable. Fashion embraces clarity and does not hide behind complexity nor rely upon trade secrets to derive value. Anyone, anywhere can find out how, where, by whom and under what conditions their clothing is made.

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A template for political fashion action. Tag your favourite brand and ask them to let you know #whomademyclothes?



What are fashion’s responsibilities and roles in the protection, unification, inclusion and equality of women? 

For their SS19 collection, Teatum Jones, a London label that joined this year’s Fashion Open Studio lineup, held a roundtable on global womanhood in favour of a traditional runway show.  


Words by Sarah Ditty, policy director at Fashion Revolution

We believe that the fashion industry in the United Kingdom, and globally, needs far-reaching systemic change in order to tackle poverty, economic inequality, gender inequality, climate change and environmental degradation. We believe this change needs to happen at three, different yet interrelated levels: government, industry and culture.

The U.K. Government is obligated to ensure that its fashion industry respects and protects human rights and the environment through a variety of legal and formal commitments, including but not limited to the SDGs 1, 5, 8, 12, 13, 14 and 15; the eight core ILO conventions; the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; The Human Rights Act 1998; The Modern Slavery Act 2015; The Aarhus Convention; and The Paris Agreement.

However, the fashion industry is largely failing to respect and protect human rights and the environment, in the U.K. and in countries with which it trades.

How the fashion industry has evolved to become one of the most globalised industries in the world

The way fashion (which includes clothing, textiles, footwear and accessories) is produced and consumed has been dramatically scaled and sped up over the past 30 years and so too have we seen more frequent and deadlier garment factory disasters and more significant and faster environmental degradation. The Rana Plaza factory disaster, which killed over 1,000 garment workers in Bangladesh in 2013, was the direct result of the opaque, complex and speedy way in which the industry functions today. The Aral Sea, formerly one of the four largest lakes in the world, has almost entirely dried up in large part due to intensive industrial cotton farming.

Clothing in the earliest days would have been made-to-order by local tailors and sold through trunk shows to aristocratic clients. Later luxury fashion design would be shown on the catwalk across a few major urban centres, still produced locally and on a relatively small scale. Consumer culture was ushered in around the 1950’s. In the early 1970’s the U.K. and other countries set up a quota system to limit the amount of textile and apparel imports from specific countries. However, it drove up domestic manufacturing costs and production began moving abroad.

By the mid 1970’s many brands, some of which are now the world’s largest retailers, began rapidly copying catwalk styles, producing them for much less and having them on shopping rails within months. ‘Fast fashion’ gained steam throughout the 1980s, and some heralded it as the ‘democratisation of fashion.’ What once seemed exclusive to a few was made accessible to most. The majority of the market moved in this direction throughout the 1990’s.

In 2005, this quota system was eliminated and replaced by a World Trade Organisation agreement that effectively opened the floodgates to outsource abroad. By the mid 2000s, fashion had become a huge global business with production steadily moving to countries that offered the lowest wages, the least regulation and fewest protections for workers and the environment in order to maximise profits by producing larger and larger volumes for the lowest cost and as quickly as possible. This has been the case not just for discount retailers and the high street (now able to turn products around from design to shop floor in a matter of a few weeks) but for also for premium and luxury fashion (where there was once only two collections per year, there are now six or more.)

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  1. Fashion measures success by more than just sales and profits. Fashion places equal value on financial growth, human wellbeing and environmental sustainability.

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words by Bronwyn Seier

This year during Fashion Revolution Week more than 40 designers will participate in the Fashion Open Studio, the Fashion Revolution initiative, where designers who engage with sustainable practices open up their studios to reveal the processes behind the collections. Fashion Open Studio’s mission is to celebrate the designers who are mindfully answering the question, ‘who made my clothes?’. As we know, it’s a complex issue and there are many challenges and as many different solutions. Designers themselves hold the key to many answers; creative thinking will provide the innovations for the systemic change necessary to ensure the future success of an industry that has minimal social and environmental impact. Fashion Open Studio hopes to provide a platform for best practice and experimentation to be celebrated, encouraged and shared. This year, Fashion Open Studio has formed a partnership with Common Objective which is creating a permanent hub for designers to exchange ideas, measure their progress and continue the conversations beyond the workshops and events of Fashion Revolution Week.What follows are the lessons we can learn from this brilliant group of changemakers. 

Lesson one: The future is upcycled and fashioned from waste.

In 2017, Fashion Open Studio launched its debut week of events, headlined by the pioneering Christopher Raeburn. Back for a third year, the Raeburn Lab in Hackney remains an open door studio all year round, but will host a tote bag making workshop from waste parachute material on Saturday, April 27th. The brand is driven by the 4 R’s principle – Remade, Reduced, Recycled, Raeburn – that has been fundamental since the label’s inception in 2010. From decommissioned parachutes to deadstock military garb, Raeburn is consistently fueled by transforming waste into new forms.

Yet Christopher Raeburn is far from the only upcycler in the Fashion Open Studio mix. Priya Ahluwalia, recipient of the 2019 H&M design award, finds her unique aesthetic in the patchworking of vintage materials into next gen sportswear. And then there is Phoebe English, who gave evidence of what is means to be a small designer in Britain today at the Environmental Audit Committee’s hearing around the sustainability of the fashion industry. The designer collects all of her offcuts from her producers and repurposes these scraps into new designs as an effort to redirect material that would otherwise head to landfill. Her Quilting from Waste workshop is an opportunity to learn a skill, meet like-minded people, and find out how English is constantly challenging herself to learn and improve.

Unique to many of these waste magicians, is that they are not only repurposing fashion waste, but the end-of-life material from other industries and sectors. This is equally true for Elvis & Kresse, the luxury brand that began life as a way of repurposing industrial fire hoses once they’ve weathered their last flame. The brand upcycles these hoses into handbags, wallets and travel bags for men and women alike, preventing the entire waste hoses of the London Fire Brigade into useful, durable product that should last a lifetime.
With too many designers to name declaring waste as the raw material of the future, the list goes on. See: Rafael Kouto, Lois Hazel & Simetrie, Duran Lantink, Turtle Doves, Rehandle and Bethany Williams.

Lesson two: Natural processes rule.

Scottish designer Cavan Jayne attributes her respect for nature to a childhood on the coast. She explains, “As the air, light and rain collide, colours and form, refract and expose the beauty nature creates. By using all natural fibres and colour pigment from various types of wood and plant, our pieces are natural in every sense of the word to manifest the beauty straight from nature”.

On Sunday, April 28th Cavan Jayne will host a botanical colour workshop, sharing how her wood- and plant-derived pigments come to life. And she isn’t the only material botanist on the Fashion Open Studio Itinerary this year. Mallika Chaudhuri’s debut brand, INDOI, will share the art of silk and cotton crushing in her London home studio, showing how you can revive unworn and stained garments or make your own crushed silk scarf.

Across the globe, Melbourne label A.BCH – the self-proclaimed TMI of transparency, is opening their studio for a natural dyeing workshop that focuses on shibori and resist stitching.

Lesson three: Technology just may save us.

On Thursday, April 25th, the Sarabande Foundation, will present an evening of lighting talks explaining the new technologies slated to shape the future of fashion consumption.

Speakers include Lorenzo Albrighi and Kuo Shih Yun the founders of Lablaco, the platform aiming to make fashion circular, alongside Hasna Kourda, founder and CEO of Save Your Wardrobe, an app that digitises the clothes we own, endeavoring to ensure that clothing is better kept track of and maintained. They will be joined by Sarabande alumni milliner Leo Carlton, who’s answer to consumption en masse is at-home 3D printing technology that uses fermented plant starch as its raw material. Leo Carlton will exhibit his latest collection and let you try out 3-D modelling at Sarabande through the week.

Other technology solutions on display across the Fashion Open Studio lineup include speculative designer Tina Gorjanc’s BioLeather workshop in collaboration with Makerversity, and live-streamed conversations from Lablaco for global audiences to take part.

Lesson four: Loved clothes last. 

The Fashion Revolution mantra, #LovedClothesLast is heavily celebrated through the art of mending and DIY. London maker S. Hawkins is hosting a workshop on April 27th that leaves the creation of new things at the door and asks attendees to bring their weathered garments for an afternoon of visible mending. With findings from Greenpeace that show that we can reduce a garment’s carbon emissions by 24% if we keep it in our wardrobe for two years instead of one, designers who encourage mending are an important part of the climate puzzle.

In Berlin, designer collective Soup Archive request that their workshop attendees bring in a garment that will be transformed by the collective’s members before their eyes. Along a similar line, LVMH prize semi-finalist, Duran Lantink will be hosted by the innovative concept store 50M in London’s Victoria. Lantink will be showing his ‘Straight from the Sale Bins’ installation which takes inspiration from the excesses of Black Friday. He will be also launching his new bespoke Deconstructed and Reassembled upcycled collection where prospective clients can book one of ten appointment-only consultations to discuss how their no longer worn pieces can be recreated into something new and precious. These pieces will be taken back to his Amsterdam studio where he will transform them in a new model of second-life bespoke dressmaking.

Lastly on the craft and longevity thread, a weeklong Wool and the Gang popup is presented in collaboration with Katie Jones, Black Girl Knit Club, and Playwool.

Lesson five: Now, more than ever, fashion must use its political voice.

The Fashion Open Studio programme wouldn’t be complete without London’s legendary activists on the menu: Katharine Hamnettand Vivienne Westwood. April 27th, Katharine Hamnett will speak about fashion’s devastating consequences on the environment and the need for political action from a venue next door to her London Fields studio. Queen of the protest tee, Hamnett has declared, “We need radical change now, and I think the only way we’re going to get that is with legislation”.

Like Hamnett, Vivienne Westwood is as much a campaigner as a designer – using her runway for every issue from civil rights to Scottish independence, and the climate revolution. As part of Fashion Open Studio, Westwood’s original Worlds End shop will be the location for small groups to hear the stories behind the original punk DIY aesthetic which is still very much alive and kicking in the form of special one-off pieces made from waste and old stock.

Finally, a new voice in fashion’s policy conversation is Teatum Jones. The design duo made headlines when they released their SS2019 collection by way of a roundtable on Global Womanhood in place of a Catwalk show. The Teatum Jones studio invites guests to a Q+A on their creative process while participants take part in freestyle hand embroidery.

This piece was initially shared ahead of Fashion Revolution Week 2019. For a look back at the lineup of events that took place, follow Fashion Open Studio on Instagram

Chekii Harling of TRASH mag & designer Patrick McDowell, Extinction Rebellion, April 15th, 2019.
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Essay: Murderous, Meaningless Caprices of Fashion

23 July 2008
Political Fashion: Adam Briggs on the problem of obsolescence.

Essay: Fashion's Ecopolitical Dilemma

23 July 2008
Political Fashion: Roger Tredre on the industry’s superficial flirtation with eco fashion.

Article: Storey With a Surprise Ending

26 May 2008
Originally published in The Sunday Telegraph, 20 May 2007: Kate Finnigan profiles artist Helen Storey's fashion past and scientific present.
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