Kate Fletcher from Tasmania has been involved with making and recycling clothing as long as she can remember. For the past 10 years she has organised a sustainable clothing show at the Local Sustainable Living event in Hobart, motivated by growing awareness of the environmental and social impacts of the global clothing industry.
Tasmania’s Kate Fletcher wears her story-filled garment hand-stitched for The Slow Clothing Project
Kate’s individual style is influenced by people at home and abroad, many of whom she is connected with through the volunteer program Willing Workers on Organic Farms.
Cathy Stuart from Newcastle in New South Wales believes that the act of making something, particularly from reused or old stuff, can create a deep sense of satisfaction, achievement and self-worth for the maker. Resourcefulness and resilience are enhanced. Being able to re-use and re-purpose an object is, in Cathy’s view, a key skill in becoming more environmentally sustainable. It reduces our need to consume new resources as well as makes us responsible for managing our own waste.
Jasmine wears an upcycled couture creation made by her mother Cathy Stuart for The Slow Clothing Project
Cathy is increasingly disturbed by the new ‘normal’ in how our society of planned and perceived obsolescence operates, driving totally unsustainable levels of consumption. “We are somehow lulled into believing that this is the only way our economy and therefore society can survive. I worry about the world my teenage daughters are growing up in, where cheap fashion is close to worthless one season after it is bought, and op shops are even now struggling to cope with the deluge of clothing and homewares they receive,” she said.
Brisbane-based textile enthusiast Denise Traynor believes that how we choose to spend our money ultimately has an impact on how things are made. “If consumers reject exploitative, wasteful production techniques, over packaging and excessive transport models by insisting on locally produced, fair-traded goods, we can lower our carbon footprint and reduce the demand for unfair wages and slavery used to produce them,” Denise said.
Mei models the dress and cardigan Denise Traynor shibori-dyed as a matched set for The Slow Clothing Project.
Denise also believes that reusing and remaking otherwise obsolete items helps to counteract the wasteful, mass production, mass consumption model that is causing so much environmental and social harm in the world. “I believe our disposable society has contributed to this harm. Plastic fibres, wearing clothes for one or two seasons, produced in third world countries with poor employment and environmental protection records, has made mountains of waste and other pollution.”
Mariana Kirova is a professional upcycler, an eco-fashion educator and an agent for change. She transforms rescued clothing into unique timeless pieces through her Perth-based business Eco Fashion Sewing which she established after studying fashion design in Western Australia.
Mariana Kirova wears an eco-fashion statement ensemble she created for The Slow Clothing Project.
Mariana said it is sad to see lots of fashion students graduating in Australia each year yet only a few stay and work in the fashion industry. “If Australian fashion brands have their production at home, this wouldn’t be happening,” she said.
Nina van Hartskamp loves hand-made things and discovering natural treasures. “When you wear a piece you made yourself (or was made by a friend) it has a story. And I have a big love for natural fibres, which are expensive when you buy them new. Luckily there are op shops! I can spent ages in second-hand stores. It’s such a kick to find hidden treasures,” she said.
Nina van Hartskamp wears an eco-print wool jacket she transformed for The Slow Clothing Project
When Nina was a little girl growing up in the Netherlands, her grandma used to make her dresses and she loved choosing the fabrics and looking through pattern magazines.
Saadia Thomson lists many reasons to value slow clothing – sustainability, creativity, self-expression, uniqueness, enjoyment, learning and honing skills, sharing and being happy. She has come to dislike the culture of consumerism or affluenza and believes people get so caught up in the next fad (fashion or otherwise) they lose sight of what’s important.
Erin Thomson wears an apron made by her mum Saadia from a rescued business shirt for The Slow Clothing Project
“Instead of collecting things – and getting into debt for stuff they neither need or really want – we can focus more on building skills, friendships, family connections and taking time to enjoy what they already have, being with family and friends; giving freely to others by sharing their skills and knowledge,” Saadia said.
Clothing has become so available and affordable in the past decade that most people no longer sew. Yet there are intangible rewards from making your own wearables, including a sense of achievement from reusing natural resources.
Sally Harris wears a wool poncho she made from a knee rug for The Slow Clothing Project.
Canberra-based Sally Harris credits The Slow Clothing Project with giving her an incentive to sew again. “With such emphasis on new clothes these days, it is lovely to take part in the Slow Clothing Project and enlighten people to the good old ways.” Continue reading →
Fast buying of fast fashion equates to a lack of thought, says Barbara Sherlock who believes many people buy for the moment, without really considering whether the style or the colour or the fit of a garment really suits them. That means these clothes are likely to be thrown away after a short wearing time not just because they aren’t the latest trend, but because the wearer knows deep within themselves that the clothing doesn’t really help them look their best.
Barbara Sherlock upcycled a wool skirt into a sleeveless vest for The Slow Clothing Project.
“If people shopped slowly and more carefully, they would buy garments they could use for a longer time. This doesn’t mean we can’t add some garments for ‘flash’ but it does mean less waste in both eco terms and the consumer’s budget,” Barbara says. Continue reading →
Cath Jarvis is a busy sonographer and mother of three who with partner Kevin runs a sheep property at Tottenham in central New South Wales. When growing up in the country a few decades ago, Cath’s Mum encouraged her and two sisters to step away from learning ‘domestic’ tasks and get more into professional and untraditional work. This meant Cath only learned to sew later in life when she realised these skills were useful for sustainable living.
Cath Jarvis wears the pinny she created for The Slow Clothing Project from discarded jeans and work shorts
“We all rode motorbikes and horses, and generally mucked around on the farm, we might have been a bit wild. Then when we went off to high school we were sent to an agricultural high school and these subjects weren’t offered. I didn’t ever think it was a great loss until my late 30s when I realised being able to sew could be very handy.
Genevieve Manhal made a resolution to buy nothing new this year (except a few items of underwear when necessary) and she’s noticing even more the media stream of fast fashion that is in her face all the time, on television, in magazines and on social media. “No wonder there are so many people struggling with body image issues and the notion of not ‘fitting in’ when this consumerist image is constantly being shown and targeted at every age group,” said Genevieve who lives in the Bass Coast area of south Gippsland in Victoria.
Genevieve Manhal from south Gippsland in Victoria made this versatile pinafore/skirt for The Slow Clothing Project.
Growing up in a household that valued being sustainable and repurposing items, building your own from scratch and thinking environmentally, the idea of fast fashion has always been an issue of concern for Genevieve. “Also studying design at TAFE it was always in your face, what was in ‘trend’, what you needed to look ‘cool’ and I have always felt, even after being out of secondary school for 10 years, that a big factor with peer pressure and fitting in is by wearing ‘correct’ fashion.