Sustainability Forum – The Afternoon Session (Part 2)

The final session of the day featured just two speakers: the renowned fashion journalist and campaigner, Caryn Franklin, and our keynote speaker, designer and campaigner, Orsola de Castro.

franklinCaryn spoke about the journey she has been on through her career and how she has made a speciality out of doing it ‘her way’ by embedding her beliefs in her work. Examples of this might include wearing an anti ‘Page 3’ t-shirt for an unrelated photo-shoot, or using only diverse and disabled models in the shoot for a look book.

In her process she always asks questions, allowing her to get first hand knowledge of the situations and treatment of the people on whom fashion has an impact.

She has enjoyed challenging big business and won, and has drawn inspiration from Vivienne Westwood to sustain her in her passion.

She also mentioned how she studied for an MSc in Psychology, which has given her the academic knowledge to reinforce the believes she has always held and fought for. This has resulted in her being able to argue that diversity within fashion advertising – in particular – leads to better general mental health for women, it also helps to disrupt stereotyping of social groups.

She says that fashion gives people the chance to gain confidence, to reinvent themselves, and to gain power. It should be used to improve and enthuse, and not objectify.

More at http://franklinonfashion.com/


Orsola started as a designer, with the brand From Somewhere, which entirely used waste products as raw materials. In her later career she works for her own consultancy, Reclaim to Wear, which deals with upcycling.

She is also currently involved in the Fashion Revolution movement which she founded in 2013, and which started campaigning in 2014.

fashrev

The purpose of Fashion Revolution is to try to reclaim fashion as something which is concerned with people, not just money. She said that fashion is emerging from a period of glossy stupidity with too many negative messages, and it is time to regain the positive.

Fashion is meant to be aspirational, but Fashion Revolution want this to apply to the whole supply and production chain, not just the end product.

One campaign they ran was to encourage people to quiz the brands of the clothing they wear with the question ‘Who Made My Clothes?’ This was hugely popular and has started a journey of transparency in the industry, and also a reciprocal campaign of the workers posting images saying ‘I made your clothes’.

Fashion Revolution wants the industry to produce clothes made with dignity, and to show that sustainable and ethical fashion – made with joy and skill – IS fashion, and that everything else is not.

Orsola’s final point was that the role of a designer, or anyone in the fashion industry, now needs to be one of finding solutions.

More information about Fashion Revolution can be found at http://fashionrevolution.org/.

 

Sustainability Forum – The Afternoon Session (Part 1)

Ms Delia  Crowe's photoUpon reconvening after lunch, the first speaker was WSA’s own Delia Crowe, pathway leader for the MA in Fashion Design. She spoke about the long view of sustainability and how it can be applied both now and in the future.

In a presentation which she freely admitted had more questions than answers, she talked about the way modern fashion is mostly aimed at the 10% richest in society, but needs to adjust to design for the other 90%. In doing so they would need to consider the needs of everyone – in terms of ethics and environment, as well as fashion. She stressed the need for ordinary consumers of clothes to be made more aware of the process that goes into their production.

She pointed out that there is no need to apportion blame or guilt for what has been done, but moving forward it needs to be everyone’s responsibility to be more sustainable, whether producer or consumer, retailer or marketer.

In the end Delia’s overarching question was: is there a way to be ‘more good’ rather than just ‘less bad’?


creatconChrissy Levett of Creative Conscience spoke next. She was talking about the design awards, for students and graduates, that her organisation provides.

They award their prizes for a use of creativity to make a positive change in the world, and she used the example of one winner whose graphic novel about teenage suicide was published online and garnered over 2 million views, as well as thousands of emails saying how the messages she had conveyed had saved lives.

As well as giving awards for the projects, Creative Conscience also help the designers to get their projects out into the world, so they can actually have an effect.

With regard to fashion and textiles, she showed examples of projects that included approaches to:

  • zero waste
  • recycling
  • single-fabric uniforms
  • nanoscale embroidery
  • working with communities
  • pattern cutting to minimise waste
  • recycling plastic banners
  • gender equality
  • and more

Creative Conscience have an Open brief, and it is currently open until 20/04/17.

More details can be found at https://www.creative-conscience.org.uk/


ebdZoe Olivia John of Engage by Design spoke next, looking at how well-being should be an integral part of any plan for sustainability.

She showed how the standard definitions of sustainability are often applicable to the developing world, rather than developed nations, and so account needs to be taken of what the future should be in the latter type of society. Her argument is that well-being and happiness should be part of that envisioned future, and that rather than being simply sustainable, we should look for ways to help people flourish.

She posed an open question of how this might be applied in fashion and textiles, and while she did not provide an answer – preferring the question to provide a spur – she suggested that it wasn’t simply about changing what happens at the moment, but that a whole new paradigm of production and consumption is needed.

More information can be found at www.engagebydesign.org


soboThe final speaker in this session was Samson Soboye, the founder/owner/designer of SOBOYE, a London based African fashion & lifestyle brand and boutique. He spoke about the work he has done with his brand and the way it continues an African tradition of reusing and recycling materials.

Coming from a Nigerian background, Samson spoke about the way his poor community would make household objects from discarded items such as electrical wire and bottle tops.

In his work he has continued this idea of re-using items that would otherwise be considered rubbish to create both fashion and household items, one example being a handbag made from woven strips of black plastic rubbish sacks.

He also showed how the remnants from shirts in his collections have been made into throws and scarves.

Samson espouses the idea that it is everyone’s responsibility to make their small contribution to sustainability, allowing it to work in combination with others to change the world.

More about his brand and shop can be found at http://soboye.com/

Sustainability Forum – The Morning Session

dcaDeborah Campbell of DCA (Deborah Campbell Atelier), was the first to speak after the staff panel which introduced the forum. She told the story of her own journey in building her own sustainable fashion brand, and the many brick walls she hit on the way to getting her clothes into John Lewis.

Among the issues she faced were finding suppliers and manufacturers from within the UK. Among problems which included manufacturers closing and supply chains failing, she managed to fulfil her early orders. But these problems led to her now use a fair-trade company in Bangalore, which allows her to control both quality and price in a way which was impossible before.

Issues still remain around the prices DCA have to pay when compared to the prices retailers are willing to stand, but she is working hard to address these, and her clothes are now on-sale in John Lewis.

Going forward, among many other issues, she sees a need to reform manufacturing in the UK to meet the needs of brands and retailers.

http://www.deborahcampbellatelier.com/


effThe second speaker was Hilary Marsh of the Ethical Fashion Forum. She outlined many of the environmental and issues associated with fashion, including massive pollution and modern slavery.

She talked about the legislation which now requires UK businesses to ensure their supply chains are free from slave labour, and other ways in which manufacturing has improved.

However, she sees a problem with fast fashion devaluing the respect the consumer has for the production of clothes, and this is something which needs to be addressed. Businesses can do this by focusing on a ‘triple bottom line’ where the same ideas applied to finances are also applied to both social issues and environmental ones.

She highlighted the ways in which designers can address many issues by paying attention to, amongst other things: longevity of a garment, the fibres and fabrics used, the possibility of upcycling and recycling, and innovations such as modular clothing.

The Ethical Fashion Forum, which Hilary was representing, provides information and education, networking opportunities, contacts, events, a large database of suppliers, and much more, to help fashion businesses be more sustainable. More information can be found at http://www.ethicalfashionforum.com/


wisebirdsRounding out the morning was Mo Tomaney of Wise Birds, talking about her nearly 40 years in the fashion business, and trying to unpick some of the longer standing issues in the business.

She looked at the history of fashion and identified the way that early supply chains to the UK relied on cotton from slave labour in the USA, and more recently from low-cost materials from the colonies, such as India. These show that there is a long and problematic background to today’s supply chains, with little of the value of a finished garment finding its way down to the beginning of the chain.

Her work with Wise Birds has been to work with small producers to foster growth at home and overseas, and to find ways to spread the value more evenly along the chain.

More information can be found at https://www.wisebirds.london/

Sustainability Forum at WSA, 2017

Final_Invite_2mIeL

The second Fashion and Sustainability Forum to be held at Winchester School of Art is currently underway.

Throughout the day there will be a number of talks by staff as well as visiting designers and other industry professionals. The focus is on ways in which the fashion industry is working to be more ethical and kinder to the environment, and what more can be done – and needs to be done – in the future.

The event is led by Delia Crowe, pathway leader for the MA in Fashion Design. In her introduction, she laid out some issues the day will hope to address:

‘With so many choices and a bewildering array of green/organic/fair- trade/slow/recycled/upcycled/vintage – how do we make responsible choices? What does that even mean? The ‘tyranny of choice’ leads to confusion and anxiety – or is that just me? Join us as we take the long view when considering these important and complex issues – there has never been a more pressing need for creative solutions. This is not about finger pointing and guilt; it is about enabling our students, graduates and staff to join and lead the debate.’

The first event of the day has been a panel discussion amongst members of staff: Reem Alasadi (MA Coordinator of MA Textile Design and MA Fashion Design), Mike Bastin (MA Pathway Co-ordinator for Fashion Marketing and Branding), Amanda Bragg-Mollison (Programme Leader BA Fashion Marketing / Management), Cecilia Langemar (Programme Leader, Fashion & Textile Design) & Delia Crowe (Pathway Leader MA in Fashion Design) led by Lipi Begum (Lecturer and Pathway Leader, MA Fashion Management).

Issues that have arisen so far include the ways in which technology might be employed to reduce waste in the manufacturing process, by tailoring garments for the consumer and reducing the need for travel; and the difficulties faced by new designers in attempting to pay a fair wage to workers within a market which is seemingly obsessed with driving down prices and creating ‘fast’ fashion.

It has been an interesting and inspiring start to the day and promises much more for the coming speakers, who include: Orsola De Castro, Caryn Franklin MBE, Samson Soboye, Zoe Olivia John, Creative Conscience/Chrissy Levett, Delia Crowe, Mo Tomaney, Hilary Marsh /Ethical Fashion Forum, Deborah Campbell Atelier and more…

You can follow events at the Forum, and join in, on Twitter, using the hashtag, #wsa_sustainabilityforum

 

WSA Fashion Show for International Women’s Day

Saturday 11th March, West Quay, Southampton. 13:20-15:30.

IWDWSA POSTER 1Students from across Winchester School of Art’s postgraduate programmes will be holding a Fashion Show at Southampton’s West Quay shopping centre, on Saturday 11th March, as part of an event for International Women’s Day. Catwalk shows will be held at 13:20, 14:00, 14:45 and 15:25. The theme of the show will be “Be Bold for Change” which aims to encapsulate a vibrant message about a new, existential female fashion consumer.

Following an initial inspiration from Reem Alasadi, the MA Coordinator of MA Textile Design and MA Fashion Design at WSA – in collaboration with programme leaders from the MAs in Fashion Design, Fashion Management, and Fashion Marketing & Branding – students from across the school have formed a company to organise and produce the show.

Students have taken on all the roles including forming an advertising team, organising sponsorship, PR and Marketing, photography, journalism, styling, and back stage activities, as well as acting as models and providing the clothes for the catwalk.

Such has been the success of the project, with students attracting sponsorship from Body Shop, Karen Millen, Oasis and FatFace and writing in the international media, that a similar project at the same time next year has already been pencilled in.

The shows will be part of a wide range of activities being held at West Quay on Saturday to support International Woman’s Day. More about these events can be found online at http://www.discoversouthampton.co.uk/events/international-women-s-day-celebrations-14946

More information about the courses at WSA can be found at http://www.southampton.ac.uk/wsa/postgraduate/index.page?

For more information about the show, contact Reem Alasadi on R.Alasadi@soton.ac.uk.

Mike Bastin featured in The Bangkok Post

bangpostMike Bastin, MA Fashion Marketing and Branding course leader, is delighted to have published very recently in the Bangkok Post, one of Asia’s most respected and widely read newspapers. In his paper Mike highlights the importance of country image as a powerful form of brand association and urges Thai fashion brands, in their efforts to go global, not to forget this and to leverage Thailand’s very positive image worldwide.

The article can be read [paywall] at http://www.bangkokpost.com/opinion/opinion/1202117/brands-should-go-global-with-local-flavour.

 

Profile: Dr Andrew R. Wollock – Associate Director of Programmes (Dalian)

smallr0018003As an experienced international educator, Dr Andrew R. Wollock has a passion for exploring the proclivity of visual arts for secondary purposes. He has joined WSA as the Associate Director of Programmes for our Chinese Campus in Dalian. We asked him to tell us a little more about himself and his work.

Calum Kerr: Can you share with us some of your influences and some of your thoughts about art and art education?

Andrew R. Wollock: I draw a lot of inspiration from postmodern thinkers such as Barthes, Baudrillard, Jameson, and Lyotard. From this essentially epistemological standpoint my interest in arts has been influenced and I have developed interests in asymmetry, playfulness, the use of minimal cues and counterspace to suggest rather than tell. In that regard it was philosophy before art for me.  I think of all design like an early Cindy Sherman photograph; a still-frame from a moment in time; a moment in time which alludes to a point beyond the surface, to something greater than the sum of the parts. I think it is important that any art, design or fashion not only comes from a place beyond the immediately visible, but also leads the viewer towards a destination beyond, and that is why developing higher-order skills and being able to rationalise one’s process is, I believe, as important as any product. I see design as part of a dialogue with the output acting as interlocutor with the viewer, and it is in that writerly space where the viewer/reader also brings with them something of their self to personalise what they see.  For me art education is no different from other subject areas within the wider arts & humanities insofar as I am looking to see the existence of higher order skills such as deconstruction, analysis, synthesis, research, criticality, and discourse.

Some of my strongest influences would be (in no particular order) Mark Rothko, Bernard Buffet, Jackson Pollock, Saul Bass, William Scott, Jeff Koons, and Josef Albers. I am also very much influenced by brutalist architecture especially Soviet architecture, and after spending so long in Japan I am naturally influenced by the Japanese aesthetic and the Japanese colour palate, especially the traditional Japanese tattoo (Japanese wa-bori [和彫]). In additional to the visual mentioned above I also draw influences and ideas from literature and would count amongst my strongest influences: J.G. Ballard, Raymond Carver, Murakami Haruki, Tim O’Brien, and Brett Easton Ellis.

CK: You are also a practising artist. Tell us about your work.

AW: I’m quite eclectic in my work and try hard to push the demarcation lines between disciplines. I’m not especially product driven and tend to focus much more on the process, the act of making, of engagement with material, subject, and self as a way to better understand oneself, and in amongst that perhaps produce something which conveys that ethos to the viewer. I believe that if creative output starts from a particular point of inception, be it political, axiological, pedagogical or epistemological it doesn’t matter what mode or method of expression you choose; again I think it is important to recognise the process of art making and not become solely focused on the products, so my work tends to be very process-driven. In terms of disciplines, I originally I studied graphic design and then moved towards photography; I now work mostly with illustration and graphic arts in quite a traditional arts and crafts, or manual way which plays a lot with surface and layer.

Some examples of my work can be seen here:
https://view.publitas.com/p222-8263/portfolio_arwoollock/page/1
https://www.flickr.com/photos/arwoollock/albums

CK: You spent a long time working in Japan. How did that come about, and what was the work?

AW: Whilst studying photography (BA hons) I became interested in the correlation between photography and Zen – not so much in the way Cartier-Bresson appropriated it, but more so in respect of the traditional Zen Arts of Japan, and in particular returning to the origins of no mind (Japanese: mu shin [無心]). This state of clarity has historically been the point of departure for not only the brush arts of Japan, but also the martial arts too, and I became interested in engaging with this concept to explore the interaction between subject and photographer in the process of taking photos. Following that I was fortunate to be awarded a scholarship to study for an MA in photography at NTU, and it was that which first took me to Japan. My research at that time was a critical examination of the Japanese visual identity which explored the sociological function and psychological role of imagery in the shaping and maintaining the quasi-mythical Japanese national identity. Whilst in Osaka, in an attempt to move away from the stereotypical and quite contrived notions of Japaneseness, I photographed and engaged a lot with what might be called the ‘dark’ side of Japan (Japanese: ura [裏])  – the side of Japan which is seldom shown in the national advertising. Through this interaction I shot a lot of fashion, music, tattoo, and street photography and from there began showing the work in galleries and working as a freelance photographer/graphic artist, I was also involved in the Japanese tattoo world. In tandem to this I was asked to teach photography and it was this which first brought me into higher education. In addition to teaching photography I also began working with Arts-based Educational Research (ABER) as a way to engage learners with secondary subjects. This was inspired by the innate proclivity of the Japanese for using ABER methods, a propensity which derived from their use of Sino-Japanese pictograms (Japanese: kan-ji [漢字]). Little-by-little I became more interested in the visual and visual methods for secondary purpose, and it was really an extension of this interest which I researched for my doctorate.

Some examples of my classroom ABER can be seen here:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/artsbasedresearch/albums

CK: Your PhD was completed in Belfast. Can you (briefly) explain what you studies were?

AW: Yes, it was essentially a largely qualitative ABER undertaking based on the theoretical frame of Paulo Freire’s ‘Critical Pedagogy’ and Donna Mertens’ ‘Transformative Paradigm’ which used mark-making for a secondary purpose, namely as a means to explore hope in a deprived working class area of Belfast called the Donegal Pass. I conducted a longitudinal study which saw me embedded in the community as an insider-researcher. The actual research was centred on transposing a Japanese wooden prayer called e-ma [絵馬] (pronounced like the girl’s name ’emma’), as a means to get participants from ‘The Pass’ to engage with and record their hopes in visual forms. The resulting tablets were then displayed, unfettered, in a local park as a collectivist dialogical artwork/installation which allowed viewers to directly engage with it; to touch the tablets, re-order them, and move them about. As a votive tablet e-ma were not randomly transposed, rather, they were used because as an areligious animistic belief system shin-tou is a was a very appropriate vehicle for exploring hope in a post-ceasefire context like Belfast which has seen three decades of sectarian civil war. The outcomes of the research were that e-ma generated oral and visual data of both a qualitative and quantitate nature, and these data could be quite clearly identified and categorised. The upshot of this is that my research gives weight to using e-ma as a legitimate and robust vehicle for gathering data in a number of different circumstances. Furthermore, because of the flexibility of the process, it allows the researcher to elect how they use the artefact in order to critically approach a given research aim. My hope is that through this and other robust visual research we can help ABER methods stand their ground and be more respected as legitimate methods in the current output-driven quantitative-leaning epoch. My doctoral website can be seen here:
http://www.projecte-ma.org/
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCKtJk6Z28uVD8Exe-oCJ2Hw
https://view.publitas.com/p222-8263/project-e-ma/page/1

CK: Do you have any current plans for research/artworks?

AW: I spent the last two years working on a series of seventy three illustrations which are part of my ‘Third-world Architecture’ project. The project plays with the notion of what is meant by the term ‘third world’ and was inspired by the incredibly innovative ways in which I saw building construction taking place on my travels in Thailand, India, Vietnam and Japan. I am currently in the process of making bespoke frames for the works which reflect the content of the images. These works deriving from representation of place have also been the stepping off point for more personal painterly work completed whilst in Belfast. Much of this work was my visual response/outworking from the extensive oral narratives I collected during my tenure there. I feel very strongly that visual outworkings have a very prominent role to play in facilitating our deeper understanding of a secondary data source, be it place or narratives.

Another on-going project is a series of typographic artworks which interpret traditional Japanese hanging scrolls (Japanese: kake-jiku [掛軸]). In this work I aim to render the content and meaning of the calligraphy in a graphic/typographic form – to use modern means of production which is then incorporated into a traditionally made scroll and displayed in historical locations such as temples and tea ceremony rooms.

In terms of text-based research I have a lot of leftover data from my Ph.D. which I am slowly sifting through. In addition to this I am also planning to conduct an extension of my doctoral research in Dalian.

CK: What do you hope for the future at Dalian?

AW: I hope that we can achieve more symmetry between the WSA campus and the Dalian campus, I think everyone agrees that it would be great to get more connectivity between the two campuses so that it is not seen as a far off ‘outpost,’ rather, an extension of the Winchester Campus. I hope that once things settle, that I can work with the staff to oversee their professional development and improve the research profile of the Campus. It is not just because as a member of the Russell Group, we need to support the wider aims and ambitions of research, but I also think that there is likely a lot of good research happening there which either isn’t necessarily considered ‘research’ by the practitioners or isn’t being fully developed. I’d really like to see Dalian generating much more research output which is authentically Chinese-facing and which can contribute to not only academia in the wider sphere, but also to the direction of flow for research. I think there is much to learn from China, Chinese culture, and the Chinese aesthetic  which can help us improve our overall research profile and stimulate new conversations.

CK: Thanks for your time, Andrew, and best of luck in your new role.