Emma Williamson’s story embodies the values, spirit and actions of The Slow Clothing Project. When she moved to the remote Pilbara region in Western Australia last year, Emma discovered fresh purpose through handmade. She found a local need of women wanting to learn to sew and set up Sturt Pea Conscious Clothing business to bring inspired clothing into the world and return benefits to people and the planet.
Emma Williamson wears the dress she made from a sheet for The Slow Clothing Project. Photos by Helen Osler.
“I teach a sewing class, and contribute my skills in dressmaking at a weekly mother’s group. I love helping people to gain an appreciation and aptitude for garment making. I’ve seen it can be very empowering, particularly for those coming from a low socio-economic group,” Emma said.
When you dressed this morning, did you spare a thought for how your clothes came into the world? Do you know what country they were made in, from what type of material or who stitched them together?
Most likely not – too busy rushing breakfast, timelines, meetings, commitments, social media, what’s for dinner, first-world problems, shopping for more, weekend planning …
The disconnection between ourselves and our clothing has grown in direct proportion to the amount of affordable, ever-changing garments on offer through global supply chains. The majority is sewn in third-world factories then presented in all sizes and shapes in a store near you.
Jane Milburn in eco-dyed t-shirt dress. Photo by Darcy Milburn at South Mossman River in north Queensland
Clothing is as essential as food for our health and wellbeing because clothes do for us on the outside what food does inside – they nourish, warm, and engage body and soul. What we choose to wear impacts how we feel and how we present to the world.
As conscious eaters are now aware of sourcing fresh whole food and returning to the kitchen – conscious dressers are engaging in the process of learning where and how their clothes are made. Our choices have profound influence – yet sometimes we are too busy to think much about them.
Fast, processed food has had a dramatic impact on health across the population in recent decades and similarly the transformational shift to fast, manufactured clothing is having impacts we are only now coming to understand.
Without doubt there are thousands of wonderful designers and billions of beautiful clothes available for purchase through the trillion dollar global garment industry. Yet this industry flourishes through the hard work of garment workers in developing countries who may, or may not, be paid appropriately for their efforts. Read about the global garment industry here from Clean Clothes Campaign.
Meanwhile in Australia and other developed nations, two generations have largely missed the opportunity to learn to sew and 70% of millennials don’t even know how to sew on a button. Continue reading →
After more than a decade of ‘disposable’ fast fashion, there’s growing interest in ethical and sustainable clothing with a good story to tell.
The Slow Clothing Project is about people choosing to make or upcycle their own clothes – read our maker stories here.
The Slow Clothing Project aims to spark a national conversation about clothing use and reuse by creating a digital collection of stories and garments handmade by local makers. The focus is on natural fibres, textile reuse and making our own, where possible. The garments – made between February to November – each tell a different story about mindful and sustainable resource. These stories reflect 10 actions to enable us to thrive in a material world. Continue reading →
“In the same way we’ve become aware of our food – we are becoming more conscious of our clothing.
Today you are either wearing natural-fibres – or synthetic fibres derived from petroleum. I’m wearing a shift created with rescued wool suits that were one step away from becoming landfill. As a natural-fibre champion with a background in issues-based communication, I am seeking to help create a more sustainable clothing culture.
Thank you for this opportunity to raise the matter at this Brisbane City Council meeting.The past decade has seen a transformational shift in where and how our clothing is made – which raises ethical issues such as:
Consumption increase – in two decades, individual annual fibre use across the globe has doubled from 7 to 13 kg each
Fibre change – a decade ago, half of new clothes were natural fibres and half synthetics. Now 2/3 of new clothing are synthetic – and research shows they shed microplastic particles with every wash.
People use double the clothing they did two decades ago, with average global apparel fibre consumption* rising from 7 kilograms each in 1992 to 13 kilograms per person in 2013.
This has occurred as part of a transformational shift in the way we source clothing and the substance from which those clothes are made. Most clothing is now produced in factories for global supply chains and two-thirds of it is made using synthetic fibres derived from petroleum, according to Jane Milburn of Textile Beat.