Dressing for health and wellbeing

We can leave home without eating occasionally but never without dressing!

Dressing is integral to life but what we wear is so often discussed in a fashion context of colour, shape and style. The broader view considers health and wellbeing aspects that respond to fashion waste, pollution, and exploitation issues.

Australian social entrepreneur Jane Milburn, founder of Textile Beat, has spent five years studying the need to transform a culture of fashion excess to a more thoughtful and engaged approach.

Jane’s new book Slow Clothing: finding meaning in what we wear was launched in Canberra at the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation by economist Richard Dennis who, in his own book (Curing Affluenza) proposes buying less stuff as a way to save the world.

Jane Milburn at Frank Fenner Foundation event and Canberra book launch with Richard Denniss

Slow Clothing was also the subject of a Fenner Foundation talk at ANU’s Acton campus where the focus was on ways of dressing with planetary health and wellbeing in mind.

Slow Clothing presents a compelling case for wearers to change the way we dress to live lightly on Earth as a response to waste and pollution that sees 6000kg of textiles going to landfill every 10 minutes in Australia.

‘With Slow Clothing, we reflect our own style and spirit, independent of fashion cycles. We buy carefully, gain skills, and care for what we wear as an embodiment of ourselves. Through this action we, the wearers, become original, authentic and resourceful,’ Jane said.

‘Australians consume double the global average and are the world’s second-largest consumers after north Americans, based on annual apparel fibre estimates.

‘And two-thirds of new clothing is now made from synthetic (ie plastic) fibres, derived from petroleum, which research has shown to be shedding microplastic particles into the ecosystem.’

Rethinking clothing culture is also essential to turning the tide on the exploitation of garment workers caught within global supply-chain empires that foster fast-consumption attitudes.

‘We eat and dress every day to survive and thrive, and in the same way we have become conscious of food and its impact on health and wellbeing, we are becoming conscious of the substance and origins of what we wear,’ Jane said.

‘Slow Clothing is based on individuals gaining autonomy and agency through 10 conscious beliefs and actions—think, natural, quality, local, few, care, make, revive, adapt and salvage. It is part of the revaluation of material things through minimalism, mending and tinkering.

You can purchase a copy of Slow Clothing in Australia here, or overseas via Book Depository here

Slow Clothing book launches

Slow Clothing: finding meaning in what we wear presents a compelling case for wearers to change the way we dress and encapsulates a philosophy that is the antithesis of fast fashion.

Based on Jane Milburn’s five-year journey into natural fibres and upcycling, the book was launched recently in Sydney by ABC-TV’s War on Waste crusader Craig Reucassel and in Brisbane by ABC broadcaster Rebecca Levingston.

ABC-TV’s War on Waste crusader Craig Reucassel and Jane Milburn at The Happenstore.

Rebecca Levingston with Jane Milburn, photo left, and with Brisbane City Council’s Field Services Chairman Cr Peter Matic, Robyn Sheptooha and Peter Lewis at the Brisbane launch of Slow Clothing.

Continue Reading →

Slow Clothing, the book

Slow clothing is following the lead of slow food as a way of responding to waste, pollution, and exploitation issues in the way we dress.

Australian social entrepreneur Jane Milburn, founder of Textile Beat, has spent five years studying the need to transform a culture of excess to a more thoughtful and engaged approach. She believes slow clothing is the antidote to fast fashion.

In her new book, Slow Clothing: finding meaning in what we wear, Jane presents a compelling case for wearers to change the way we dress so that we can live lightly on Earth.

Slow Clothing is being launched in Sydney by ABC-TV’s War on Waste crusader Craig Reucassel who revealed 6000kg of textiles are going to landfill every 10 minutes in Australia.

Continue Reading →

Helping divert textiles from landfill

Textiles are the biggest product segment at Reverse Garbage Queensland, prompting the launch of Worn OUT as an exhibition to celebrate refashion and creative upcycling.

At the RGQ warehouse in Woolloongabba on October 28, Worn OUT showcased 35 refashioned garments made by a dozen creatives from around Australia.

Co-curators Jane Milburn, left, and Elizabeth Kingston, right with a Karen Benjamin plastic dress.

Coordinator Bill Ennals said textiles had easily become RGQ’s fastest-growing segment in the past few years with local businesses diverting excess stock to the warehouse for resale rather than sending it to landfill.  Continue Reading →

Revive style for planetary health

Brisbane is the first city in the world to host a pop-up secondhand fashion festival as a waste minimization strategy, to the best of my knowledge. I (Jane Milburn) checked with New York refashion academic Sass Brown and Sass knows of no other.  Do tell if you know of another.

Stiltwalkers showcase refashion at the 2016 Revive event in the heart of Brisbane. Photo by Brisbane City Council

Stiltwalkers showcase refashion at the 2016 Revive event in the heart of Brisbane. Photo by Brisbane City Council

Revive is in its second year and pops up again on 18 August 2017 at South Bank Forecourt from noon to 9pm. Hats off to Brisbane City Council, Cr Peter Matic and Cr David McLachlan for leadership. With textiles being one of the fastest growing domestic waste streams, fuelled by fast-fashion turnover, I am proud to have been in the room at its conception. Thank you to Cr Matic for acknowledging my contribution.

The advent of Revive followed a 2015 opportunity I had to address a council meeting on a matter of public importance.  Here’s the link to my 2015 address (including Hansard pdf) when I spoke of the need to develop a more sustainable clothing culture. Revive is a huge step in this direction.  Continue Reading →

Eco fashion rising in Australia

You know the eco tagline is truly authentic when upcycled garments are included on the runway, as they will be at Eco Fashion Week Australia on November 23-27.

Sceptics might think eco fashion is a branding exercise, another way to sell you things you don’t really need, because fashion is by definition the latest fad or trend – ever-changing and therefore by implication unsustainable.

Eco is short for ecology, ecosystem or environment – so upcycling garments that already exist (another 100 billion* new garments are added to the supply chain each year) lends credibility to this inaugural eco fashion event in Fremantle.

ecofashion photos

Continue Reading →

Rethinking clothing culture

By Jane Milburn Textile Beat founder and sustainability consultant

Textile Beat founder Jane Milburn clothed in wool garments given a second life using eco-dye. Photo by Ele Cook

Textile Beat founder Jane Milburn clothed in wool garments given a second life using eco-dye. Photo by Ele Cook

My campaign on clothing waste has been a lifetime in the making. It began as a child learning hand-making skills and continued as a student upcycling big old dresses and thrifted finds.

I made many of my clothes for decades then rediscovered op shops in 2011 after a Fashion for Flood fundraiser. I began visiting op shops and particularly seeking out natural-fibre garments – wool jumpers with a hole, linen shirts with a missing button. The waste of resources troubled me because I grew up on a farm and have an agricultural science degree. What was happening to our clothing culture I wondered?

Continue Reading →

Mendful, mindful 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.  Continue Reading →

Slow Clothing at TEDxQUT

TEDxQUT talkBelow is original script from Jane Milburn’s TEDxQUT talk on April 8, 2017.

This suitcase weighs 23kgs – it’s overweight if you’re flying. And it represents the amount of leather and textiles that each Australian sends to landfill every year.

Every one of us … every year.

We know about food waste and that a third of food is never eaten – clothing waste runs parallel to that.

Every day we eat and dress to survive and thrive.

Our clothes do for us on the outside what food does inside. They warm and protect our body – and influence the way we feel.  Continue Reading →

Textile Beat leads change

Few people sew their own clothes these days because factory-made options are cheap and plentiful, yet this trend creates a clothing surplus that requires creative solutions to keep it out of landfill.

Textile Beat is celebrating four years of upcycling and helping influence a more sustainable clothing culture based on using natural fibres and applying traditional skills in innovative ways.

Jane Milburn of Textile Beat

Sustainability consultant Jane Milburn of Textile Beat

Textile Beat founder Jane Milburn said the Slow Clothing Manifesto identifies 10 actions we can take to thrive in a material world: think, natural, quality, local, care, few, make, adapt, revive and salvage.

“Clothes do for us on the outside what food does inside – nourish and warm our body and soul. Fast and processed industrial food has had a dramatic impact on health in recent years and similarly the shift to industrial clothing has social and environmental impacts we are only now learning,” Jane said.

Continue Reading →