The Game Changer

It’s so good to hit the key again !!! First of all, apologies for being off for so long, secondly, I can assure you, it was worth the wait. After freshly starting an internship with David Koma and attending a couple of festivals and magazine parties, Yana and I are overloaded with stories to tell and experience to share, so hold on.

I have decided that the first thing to write about in such a while should be something of a great importance and a source of inspiration that is needed. It is something that has been circulating in my mind for quite a long time and that I actually wrote my German dissertation on. Having the absolute confidence of someone who has spent years researching a subject, I stupidly thought I knew it all, but it wasn’t until this January that I experienced one of those: inevitable, powerful, overwhelming… game changers.

Since January Yana and I have been a part of a sustainability research, called ‘Design Sensibility for Sustainability’ that has since the very start introduced us to a good number of experienced artist and scientist from the universities of Exeter, Wolverhampton, and Falmouth, working in collaboration to influence and inspire current consumerist millennial generation and educate in changing our shopping behaviour pattern by creating a sensibility for sustainable thinking. This project involves twelve participants form different fields of life and with various occupations and is aiming to give us thorough hands-on experience in the entire process of producing garments. Considering that and the immense knowledge in the subject we have obtained I could doubtlessly say that this Research Project has been one of my biggest life-changers so far.

Firstly, we were given an introduction to yarn and a mill tour at Sue Blacker’s wool factory in Leicester. There we were taught how to recognise wool by its colour, texture and softness. Then we had a thorough introduction in wool spinning, knitting, natural dyeing, and finally, a film screening of and a discussion on ‘The True Cost’ – a remarkable documentary, moving and genuine, which takes a close look inside the lives of workers in the Bangladeshi factories. Feeling their pain made us all reconsider the effect our mass-consumption has not only on natural environment, but also on the people that work for 14 cents a day and starve to satisfy our increasing demand for clothes we don’t even need. The question arises if buying something just for the sake of doing so is worth the pain and lives of so many people still seeking justice in the third world countries. This is also applicable to the overall mass-consumption effect, although the film raises mainly issues, concerning the Fashion industry specifically.

The practical workshops, on the other hand, have not only equipped us with an unique set of skills, but have also made us realise in the course of the research project how difficult, time-consuming, and intricate labour is required, so that a single piece of clothing could appear just to satisfy our growing consumption. Now that all the participants have gone through the whole process of constructing a piece of clothing from extracting wool to producing the fabric and recycling, we are all starting to realise through the results of the research, as well as through our own clothing diaries and discussions, that we all have decreased our consumption and feel somewhat guilty to buy anything (not just a piece of fashion) that we don’t actually need. One of the key aims of this workshop is also to spread that knowledge, not by preaching, but by explaining and delivering adequate information on what it means to be sustainable and how such behavioural pattern changes could be the small steps we all could make to avoid repeating the 24 April Bangladeshi Rana Plaza Factory collapse, which caused the death of 1021 people and has injured over 2000 more.

And just while we were wondering how to most effectively spread our message, without being preachy and annoying (this is literally how I used to describe sustainability aware people before I became a part of this research project), our paths crossed with Fashion Revolution representative, Heather, who gave us a short lecture on purposeful use of social media, Instagram specifically. Judging by the sustainability platform’s growing success, I believe she was the right person to educate us in using an Instagram account for a good cause, rather than just ‘checking’ newsfeed. One could, for instance, create memorable hashtags to spread an idea, or ask questions in their caption. It’s also worth mentioning that Fashion Revolution run free online courses, which you can use to get access to information concerning sustainability, fashion, and social media.

And still on the subject of social media influences, I highly recommend watching Fashion revolution’s ‘The 2-Euro T-shirt – A Social Experiment’. It follows people’s reaction to the truth about fast fashion and how their consumption behaviour changes when they are provided with rough facts about the actual cost of mass-consumerism. This is to show that the majority of purchasers follows this shopping pattern as a result of lacking knowledge and sensitivity on the subject of sustainability.

It’s up to us to change that!


Images: Nina Constable


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