Category Archives: Fashion Revolution

Mendful, mindful, meaning in stitches

Mended garments carry a story of care. They reflect the triumph of imperfection over pretension while the act of mending itself brings transformation in both mender and mended.

By embracing repair as a valid and useful act we, the menders, are stitching new life-energy into something others step over in the scrabble onwards and upwards. To pause, apply creative problem-solving and add a mark of care to our clothes, we extend their life and bring meaning to our own.

The clothes we wear are a statement of values. We may go through stages of searching for newer, sharper images and think clothes, like makeup and leopard spots, can camouflage and attract the right sort of attention. Alas, the pipe dream.

By letting go of the idea of perfection and embracing clothes as skin friends that need loving care occasionally, we come home to our true self. Our clothes become conversation starters with others who believe in planetary health by taking slow-clothing actions: think, quality, natural, local, few, care, make, revive, adapt and salvage.

Jane Milburn of Textile Beat hosts a clothing repair café at Reverse Garbage Queensland in Brisbane every second month. Swing by next time and spend time with others who care. Embrace post-materialism and wear your heart on your sleeve, it’s much simpler than seeking a perfection that doesn’t exist.

The photos below are from last night’s gathering ahead of Fashion Revolution Week April 24-30. Read more about the repair cafe movement in this sustainable style article by Clare Press.

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Handmade purpose – Emma Williamson

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

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.

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Wear a good story

FRD_logo_blueWhen 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.

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Our clothing stories – Jane Milburn

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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

The Slow Clothing Project 2016

Jane MilburnAfter 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

Grow a sustainable clothing culture

Jane Milburn outside Brisbane City HallJane Milburn spoke on a matter of public importance at the November 24 meeting of Brisbane City Council: (download Minutes or read speech and response_24_nov_2015)

“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:

  1. Consumption increase – in two decades, individual annual fibre use across the globe has doubled from 7 to 13 kg each
  1. 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.

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Towards a sustainable clothing story

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.

During this National Recycling Week (9-15 November), Ms Milburn will discuss our clothing story as guest speaker at the Keep Australia Beautiful Australian Sustainable Cities 2015 Awards in Brisbane on November 13. The awards are running in tandem with the Recreate handmade market and Paper Fashion Parade in King George Square.

Global apparel fibre consumption vs population growth Continue reading