Upon 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’?
Chrissy 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
- 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/
Zoe 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
The 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/