The increased growth in trend focused shopping has led to fast and disposable fashion, whereby the garment is built to last only a few months until the next trend. As reported in the New York times article “How to Buy Clothes That Are Built to Last” (Pierre-Louis, 2019), the high-street store Zara releases 20,000 new designs a year with the strategy designed with obsoletism and a push to new purchases in mind.
This type of fashion has an impact on how clothes are made for example seams are purposefully made short, so as to reduce the amount of material used. However this prevents you letting the seam out, if you need to change the size or fit.
Working with undergraduate Fashion and Textile students at the School of Art and Design at the University of the West of England, the first part of this workshop will focus on the pleasures and necessity of care and repair. Exploring what repair means the first part of this workshop will focus on collecting stories and images of things we have repaired. The second part of the workshop will look to using mending technique such as patching to construct and sew our own statements about repair thinking particularly about repair within the fashion industry.
Teresa Dillon is an artist and researcher and the project lead for TALES OF CARE AND REPAIR. In 2018 she co-founded Repair Acts – a practice-based research programme that explores repair cultures and practices in a pluralistic and collective manner. Since 2013 she also directs Urban Hosts – a programme the explores alternative urban futures and is a member of the spatial collective Soft Agency. Her work has been published in various contexts and she has participated in numerous exhibitions, art residencies, conferences and seminar programmes. A Humboldt Fellow, Teresa currently holds the post of Professor of City Futures at the School of Art and Design, UWE Bristol, which is also the home base for Repair Acts.
Dawn Giles supports the production and workshop delivery of TALES OF CARE AND REPAIR on the UK side. Originally studying Fine Art and Painting and photography, Dawn has over twenty years experience as an art curator, producer and manager. Relocating to Bristol in 2016, Dawn has returned to her arts roots, working as maker and mender using techniques from drawing, print and textiles. Embracing the delights of pattern making, repetition, and decoration her work explores and make connections between art, craft and ideas of labour and leisure.
This workshop is available to UWE students only.
10-11.00 : Welcome and Introduction
11.00-12.30: Sharing Repair Stories
13.30-15.00: Constructing our declarations for repair
15.15-16.30: Repair and Care Declaration
In advance of the workshop please bring three photos images of repaired textiles with you. This can be a mix of a professional repair, DIY/self-repair or a failed repair. Also bring an item of clothing or fabric that you consider waste that we can re-use.
The workshop opened with Teresa and Dawn, welcoming everyone – particularly as it was a Monday morning start and the second week of term! So everyone was still feeling fresh.
Teresa followed with a presentation about repair and a summary of what was going to happening during the workshop. Providing an overview of the Repair Act’s project and TALES OF CARE AND REPAIR, she connected the work to the UN Sustainability Goals and in particular Goal 12 on “Responsible Consumption and Production” and also spoke about the relationship of repair to waste hierarchies, circular economies and cradle-to-grave lifecycles. Teresa also spoke about how artists such as Mierle Laderman Ukeles placed a great emphasises on care and maintenance and shared her Manifesto for Maintenance Art, 1969! inspired many artists and also shared the work of artist Linda Brothwell, who as a studio at Spike Island, Bristol. Linda works with various craft communities to repair, objects and things in peoples localities. Contextualising the work more broadly in relation to COP26, the Right to Repair movement and iFixIt’s Repair Manifesto, Teresa also drew on the work by. the Ellen Macarthur’s Foundation, “Redesigning the future of fashion” programme and in particular their Vision of A Circular Economy for Fashion, which looks at how fashion can be ‘made to be made again’ and decoupled from finite resources.
During the presentation examples of companies and designers working on addressing sustainability in fashion, either by making more modular design such as Tonle‘s focus on pattern making as a means through which to address waste; or our community partners, Conserve, India‘s work on using recycled plastics; Worn Again (UK) approach to recovering polyesters from textiles, the Swizz company Freitag’s use of disused tires, truck tarps and fully compostable textiles to make bags, Rosalie McMillian‘s ear-rings made from recycled coffee and Philippinan fashion designer Francis Adam Sollano hi-end, pieces made from residential garbage, were drawn on as a means to further inspire ideas for sharing repair stories and creating the declarations. Teresa also shared stories of her work on mapping repair economies in Bristol, concluding with how accessibility and visibility of repair is important and also shared stories collected from her family and friends on how we used to have less garments and repaired and cared more for what we had not so long ago.
Supporting the links to fashion, colleagues Tracey Fitzgerald (Senior Lecturer) and Deborah Southerland (Programme Leader) also provided further inspirations and shared ideas for how students could utilise their skills in helping to support the repair movement.
Dawn then spoke of her work and history of making with a focus on the banners and textiles that have inspired her practice. For example, textiles and textile banners have always been used in the struggle for social and political change by the Suffragettes and the protestors at Greenham Common. Drawing on this work and on attending the Women’s March against Trump in London in January 2017, Dawn made posters, banners and badges containing words and statements relating to women’s rights. She has also began to led workshops with various communities making fabric banners and badges as a personal call to action or that articulated issues that are important to the group.
Dawn also connected her work to ideas of Craftivism – craft as a gentle protest, has been promoted by activists, including Sarah Corbett of the Craftivist Collective. She also spoke of mending as an activity relating to community, care, skill-sharing and relationship building. Linking more broadly to the world-wide community of menders and their presence on Social media platforms like Instagram, Dawn shared how it can be get to connect with a wider community of menders and repairers, who are interested in sustainability within fashion, citing examples such as The OR Foundation, Fashion Revolution (@fash_rev) and Street Stitching is a recent initiative, started on Instagram in the UK and has now become a worldwide form of activism with the hashtag #StitchItDontDitchIt.
It was from these experiences of collaborative textiles making that Dawn’s practice in recycling, reusing and mending the stuff we already have emerged. Focus on how such work reduce waste through engaging with the aesthetics and politics of repair, she stated how that “every time we mend something it’s one less thing thrown away”.
From this introduction, Dawn and Teresa demonstrated how to upload your story to the TALES OF CARE AND REPAIR website and working in pairs, the students began to brainstorm statements that they would like to include in a “Repair Declaration”.
Statements of intention to mend and repair collected during the workshop (see below), were stitched using waste fabric from the universities Fashion Department.
Don’t Just Bin It, Do Something with It
Not Afraid of the Frays
Fix It, Don’t Ditch It
Let’s Get Mending Trending
Can we Thrift It, Yes We Can
Patch It Up, Stitch It In, Let Me Begin
Patch’s On My Sweater Already, Mum’s Been Threadin’
And I Will Try, To Fix You
Brydes, T. (2021). Closing the loop on take, make, waste: Investigating circular economy practices in the Swedish fashion industry. Journal of Cleaner Production. Vol, 293, 15 April, 2021.
Celikian, B. (2017). Well Made Apparel vs Fast Fashion, Medium, Published on Jul 18 2017. Last accessed 17 Aug 2021.
Ellen MacArthur Foundation, (2017). A New Textiles Economy: Redesigning Fashion’s Future, pp. 1-150. Last accessed 17 August, 2021
Louis-Pierre, K. How to Buy Clothes That Are Built to Last, New York Times, Sept 25, 2019. Last accessed 17 August, 2021
Image credit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seam_(sewing)#/media/File: Curved_seam.jpg Public Domain.