A Captive Audience

The Living Wardrobe Research Survey
February 13, 2012, 10:25 am
Filed under: Research | Tags: , , ,

A fashion research colleague, Jo Cramer, is conducting a survey about attitudes to fashion and shopping habits.  The data gathered will help inform her design approach in designing for longevity.

The survey takes about five minutes and is anonymous (and quite fun I thought!), and she’d be ever so grateful if you would take part.


Corporate Fashion Still Monopolizing Progress For Indie Designers
October 19, 2011, 3:28 am
Filed under: Research | Tags: ,

Corporate Fashion Still Monopolizing Progress For Indie Designers.


While the mainstream fashion press is busy paying lip service to old school fashion house’s fat wallets, they barely acknowledge that sustainability for the future of fashion means a lot more than traditional press and sales. Outside of the advertising winner’s circle, there are plenty of designers, press, and bloggers who acknowledge, report upon, work for and really do see the change of the sustainable design community’s efforts.

Even Oprah has something to say about it. Yet the fashion industry doesn’t want to outwardly acknowledge the shifts going on towards sustainable consumerism perhaps from a fear because they’re afraid that following, or even promoting ethical and sustainable business practices would mean a few things:

1.  The admittance that things have been and continue to be done unethically in almost every step of the process.

2. The end of days for business processes that are comfortable, which might equate to a loss of sales and/or jobs for people who don’t know how to evolve.

3. Quite possibly the end of all the excess that is fashion week because it would require focusing on doing things based on a whole new model.

Rules to Dress By
September 3, 2011, 10:50 am
Filed under: Research | Tags: , ,


At the end of last year, I published ‘A Year in my Wardrobe: Ethical Fashion in Practise” In this post I walked you through all of my fashion related purchases of the year and finished with 12 New Year’s Resolutions that you could take on to make your wardrobe sustainable too. These 12 rules were recently published by Oxfam Fashion. Just in case you missed them or needed a reminder, here they are again followed by tips from other industry experts:

Is Haute Couture the new Diversity in Fashion?
August 2, 2011, 1:19 am
Filed under: Research, Thoughts | Tags: , , , ,

Article by Abigail Doan in EcoSalon, July 20 2011

This is not the first time I have seen someone proposing haute couture as a version of sustainable fashion.  This article interesting likens the very strict codes that govern the certification of haute couture to the codes that govern certification of organic or labour rights standards.

The writer acknowledges the elitism inherent in haute couture but wonders in regards to  its 500 odd customers:

“Perhaps there is a philanthropic nature to the women who collect and invest in couture creations in the same spirit that blue-chip art is handpicked from galleries or costly film projects are backed by individuals who believe in a story that must be told and shared. “

The very presence of haute couture gaurantees and encourages diversity within the fashion industry;

“In many instances, we really cannot overlook the fact that cultural preservation, and in turn, timeless fashion methodologies are sustained by the very presence and persistence of the haute couture shows.”

“The idea that fashion of this sort might be a source of national pride rather than a copyright embarrassment or garment factory nightmare, is something to view as a thing of promise.”

Industry heroes
March 28, 2011, 7:16 am
Filed under: Thoughts | Tags: , ,

A couple of recent talks, one at RMIT and another as part of LMFF have got me thinking about the adoption of more sustainable practices by fashion businesses.  The commonly accepted viewpoint in Australia (as I am hearing it) is that we lag behind Europe in terms of motivation, legislation and actual action.  Likely, our size and sprawl contributes to this – tackling landfill issues for example seems of little importance when we have so much space and so many disused mine sites to fill with our garbage.  In other countries, this space simply doesn’t exist.

At the LMFF panel discussion last Tuesday, Is Fashion Sustainable? I heard panelists and audience alike grapple with the question of how to turn this attitude around.  Whilst there are many creative and thoughtful approaches being employed by smaller scale practitioners, the questions I am hearing asked are who are the heroes among the established industry who will stand up and lead others in this area, and how can those companies best be encouraged and supported?  The presentation at RMIT last Thursday by Anne Chandler, Environmental Manager at IKEA made me realise that companies committed to environmental initiatives do so as part of a more general approach to business based on conscience, leadership and innovation.

Companies committed to environmental initiatives do so because:

1. It’s the right thing to do.

2. They consider themselves leaders in their field and are therefore aware generally of the impact their company has.

3. They have a holistic approach to business that allows them tho see where benefits are/will be – eg, profits, increased quality, reduced costs.

On the other hand, in my experience, businesses not doing anything:

1. Have a lack of any ethical standards in regards to anything.  This means there is no fundamental motivation to change.  Perhaps the only way to target these companies is through protest/direct action strategies such as those directed at Primark in the UK and hope for consumer boycots and general disruption to their business.

2. Follow fashion trends but without a perception of themselves as leaders in their market.  This lack of vision and creativity will probably be also apparent in the design process, where very unimaginative copying of samples bought from other companies is probably rife.

3. Have a scattergun and fragmented business approach, characterised by poor communication both internally and with stakeholders.

Thinking about the more general approach to business of different types of companies made me conclude that it is probably most prudent to focus efforts in the area of assisting and bringing together fashion businesses (no easy task in itself, as I understand) that are leaders in a general sense, in the hope that they will reap the benefits, while companies with no interest whatsoever in change will dye out in a Darwinian survival of the fittest strategy.  A friend working for a prominent NGO told me how they only work in countries that are politically stable, otherwise their good work in development risks being for nothing if war tears everything apart.  Fashion companies are similar in this sense.  They change ownership and go broke at alarming rates, and it makes sense to build up and support those who are already stable.

H & M Sustainable Style?
February 6, 2011, 3:04 am
Filed under: Research | Tags: , ,

H & M Sustainable Style? « Centre for Sustainable Fashion.

“H & M have to be given a thumbs up for so prominently promoting sustainability in one of their flagship stores; even though the relevant pieces are a small percentage of their overall collection, they are clearly showing a commitment and willingness to frontline the concept of sustainable fashion, at least in Regents Street.

“It’s interesting that they’ve decided to focus on sustainable materials as the selling point. Materials are the thing we can touch and feel; they give us something seemingly definite to say, “it’s organic”, “it’s recycled”; the question is does this just provide us with a comfortable excuse to buy more, another dress is fine because it’s organic! I’m waiting for the H & M durable design collection, what would that look like?”



What is unstitched?
December 1, 2010, 10:59 pm
Filed under: Development | Tags: , ,

I’ve called my gowns Unstitched.  This, in fact was not entirely true, they were lightly stitched, or even highly stitched, but in different ways to how a garment is conventionally stitched.  Certainly, they are a reaction against special occasionwear that is tightly stitched – too much so for it’s required durability.  (Although the durability requirements of a gown might be a source of contention – based on the salon sample/retail model of the designer)  In any case, my question here is who else is doing unstitched?

A search of the term “Unstitched” reveals that it is used predominantly in regards to Indian fabrics.  It doesn’t mean fabric that will never be cut or sewn, rather denotes fabric that is yet to be made into clothes.  The advantage in unstitched fabric is that it is intended for custom manufacture to suit the individual.

This process is descibed in a number of websites such as Buzzle or here is a supplier in Pakistan selling unstitched blouses.  Unstitched might have an embroidery detail around the neckline.  This can be cut around and the garment made up to fit the individual.  In the same vein,  this online retailer offers unstitched Salwar Kameez.

According to Wikipedia, a draped garment is “a garment that is made of unstitched cloth that is held to the body by means of pins, fibulae, or clasps, sashes or belts, tying or friction and gravity alone.  Many draped garments are one-piece garments.” Examples of such garments include:

This is interesting in that it encourages me to expand the thinking of what I might be designing and making outside the realm of “gown”.  In considering drape, I have previously kept my idea of drape close to the western notion of drape – a draped gown, usually bias cut and related to Vionnet, or a draped outer layer of a gown, manipulated over a corset.

Button Masala is a concept by designer Anuj Sharma.  It aims to make people more involved with their clothes.  It is a simple concept of a length of fabric sewn with buttons and straps.  The arrangement of the fabric and attachment of the straps is flexible.

Others using the word “unstitched” include:

Unstitched Utilities is a shoe company that designs street shoes.  For this brand – unstitched means espousing corporate careers for the freedom associated with running ones own fashion and fashion and design label.  They also do an eco-friendly range of Tyvek shoes called Unpressed.

UN-stitched is the name of a blog that profiles emerging fashion designers and the influence of new media in fashion.

Australian Fashion Unstitched is a book chronicling the last 60 year of Australian fashion.