THE SEWING DIVAS sewing, design, fashion

July 9, 2009

The Joy of Sewing: Part 2

Filed under: Georgene,Inspirations,Musings,Professional Friends — georgene @ 11:16 am

matisse blouse
Part 2 of my conversation with Elaine Lipson about Slow Cloth: the development of ethical fashion –

Ethical Fashion
In England, the sustainable movement in clothing is referred to as ethical fashion and textiles.

Greenwashing,”or efforts to get on the ecological bandwagon, doesn’t necessarily benefit the sustainable, ethical movement. Clothing or fabrics are marketed as sustainable, with no standards to support that labeling.

Certification and labeling?
Foods labeled as ‘organic’ have some sort of certification process – that is required by law in Oregon – and all organic products in the US that intend to be sold in Oregon submit to this standard. Are eco-friendly fabrics better when there is no attention to dyeing, finishing, or fair labor practice?

Lainie has a short rant: “Too many trendy tops, made out of bamboo softened by heavy doses of chemicals, marketed as ‘eco-chic.’ And if we’re going to make “repurposed” old clothes, we need a strong aesthetic – I see too many that look like a vision for a post-apocalypse novel. That’s potentially brilliant on the screen or the stage or the runway, but in real life it can be a bleak vision.”

She loathes some junior fashion producers’ “institutionalized objectification of young women in their ads and in their stores, and calling it sustainable fashion. All these things contribute to the green-speak fatigue that we’re already seeing.”

Education and Community

G: How can we engage people in expressing their creativity or culture? Is there a community model?

E: “Every community should embrace its creative class and invest in it…The movement toward creativity and craft is happening everywhere. Building live-work and studio-gallery spaces is a fantastic idea for any community with empty buildings. You also need local businesses that supply artists.

While we can buy a lot of things online, everyday creativity often depends on the materials readily available to you. If you don’t have a great fabric store with inspiring classes and workshops and a convenient place to get thread and elastic and zippers, you’re going to have a hard time learning to sew. The advent of knitting groups and public sewing studios is terrific. But we need to look at how to make these businesses viable, because so often they’re prohibitively expensive to run, and they’re based more on idealistic dreams than business sense. We need both.”

What people are doing now
Lainie mentions what Natalie Chanin of Alabama Chanin is doing with locally produced fabric and fashion.

E: Chanin’s philosophy is linked to organic food and sustainable agriculture “in a very graceful way. Her model is to create high-end, inspirational and aspirational handmade clothing, but also write books that show you how to make it yourself. She has a lovely, elegant yet raw, very authentic aesthetic that people are clamoring for. And it truly seems to come from the heart, her love of handmade and her commitment to her roots and community.”

Here’s Lainie’s recommendation for further reading on subject of ethical fashion:

E: Charty Durrant has written “The Tyranny of Trends,” a terrific article for Resurgence magazine on the need for rethinking fashion. This is a powerful statement from a former fashion insider. She mentions some multinational brands, and notes that it is important to acknowledge the small independent and local companies that are being very conscious and innovative.”

Elaine Lipson is a writer, editor, textile artist and craftsperson. She is the author of The Organic Foods Sourcebook (Contemporary Books, 2001) and The International Market for Sustainable and Green Apparel, a comprehensive market research report published by Packaged Facts (2008). She blogs about textile art, craft, culture and sustainability at Red Thread Studio . Her work with the organic food industry and the Slow Food movement has led her to translate some of her thoughts to the fiber arts and publish her manifesto Elaine’s 10 Qualities of Slow Cloth at her blog.

July 4, 2009

The Joy of Sewing

Filed under: Georgene,Inspirations,Musings,Professional Friends — georgene @ 11:29 am

Mary Beth recently sent me a link to Red Thread Studio, where Elaine Lipson blogs about ‘textile art, craft, culture and sustainability’. Lainie, as she is known, is the author of The Organic Foods Sourcebook, and The International Market for Sustainable and Green Apparel. Her work with the organic food industry and the Slow Food movement has led her to translate some of those ideas to fiber. I love this distillation of her thoughts that I found over on her blog ~

Elaine’s 10 Qualities of Slow Cloth

* Joy Slow Cloth has the possibility of joy in the process. The journey matters as much as the destination.

* Contemplation Slow Cloth can be contemplative, offering a space for meditation or contemplation in the work.

* Skill Slow Cloth involves skill that can develop over time, and with intention, has the possibility of mastery.

* Diversity Slow Cloth acknowledges the rich diversity and multicultural history of textile art.

* Teaching Slow Cloth honors its teachers and lineage even in its most contemporary expressions.

* Materials Slow Cloth is thoughtful in its use of materials and respects their source.

* Quality Slow Cloth artists, designers, crafters and artisans want to make things that last and are well-made.

* Beauty It’s in the eye of the beholder, yes, but it’s in our nature to reach for beauty and create it where we can.

* Community Slow Cloth supports community by sharing knowledge and respecting relationships.

* Expression Slow Cloth is expressive of individuals and/or cultures. The human creative force is reflected and evident in the work.

The joy of slowly sewing a wedding gown.

I recently caught up with her and asked her a few questions about her concept of Slow Cloth.

G: Has your work in the organic food industry had an impact on your thinking in the area of textile crafts?

E: Food and fiber are closely related. Cultivating plants and animals for food and clothing is the touchstone of culture and civilization. In both cases, our human instinct is to take nature’s raw materials and be creative with them to satisfy our senses, our desire for nourishment and beauty. And in both cases, we’ve industrialized and commodified production in ways that are rightfully up for serious review. Just as we learned to be aware of where our food came from and how it was produced, it’s time to take the same approach to fiber.

The idea of going back to the source, preserving and protecting regional and indigenous traditions, supporting contemporary interpretations, and taking time to celebrate the personal and communal rewards of making. That’s what inspired me to develop a set of principles for what I call Slow Cloth, but they work for all kinds of textile art and craft, and certainly for fashion as well.

G: What steps can we take to bring consciousness to the public about textile arts and crafts, similar to the Fair Trade movement for coffee and other agricultural products?

E: We’ve outsourced clothing and textile production so completely that those who make the things we buy are completely anonymous to us, and the environmental issues are invisible. I think a change is underway. The craft renaissance is allowing people to experience what it takes to make something. After you’ve made a pair of pants, you start to ask how Old Navy can sell a pair for $9.99 and make a profit, and then you begin to connect the dots. You might still buy those $9.99 pants, but at least you’re aware that it’s a choice that might not completely line up with your values.

G: There is a lot of interest is creating sustainable, green models for textile and clothing manufacturing. Where do you see the most activity currently?

E: Good certification programs are just the beginning; we also need consumer information and education that help people realize the need for sustainable production and sane consumption. ..It’s hard to look at a beautiful, silky dress or a well-loved cotton shirt and see it as a problem, so we have to identify production issues and still acknowledge that people want beautiful and comfortable garments.

….Sometimes the clothing being marketed as “sustainable” has nothing to qualify it as such. Or sometimes it’s a fabric we perceive as better, but there’s no attention to dyes and finishing or ethical labor practices.

…. In England, this movement is much more frequently referred to as ethical fashion and textiles, rather than sustainable… an ethical model–one that is responsible to all stakeholders from producer to wearer–is really what we need to create.

Slow sewing for a pieced lace applique

Stay tuned for part 2 of my interview with Lainie and The Joy of Sewing next week.

pewter twinset
The joy of working in fine cloth

October 11, 2008

In Amsterdam with Els

Not me, unfortnately, but Kathleen Fasanella, who met up with Els on her recent trip to Amsterdam.  She did a great post of her visit on Fashion-Incubator, and Els honey, you are rocking those eye glass frames!

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