Having once been a part of the fashion scene, West Australian maker Jemma Edwards is uniquely placed to comment on contemporary clothing culture which she left behind a decade ago due to the influx of poorly made cheap alternatives.
Deborah Palmer believed the 50th anniversary year of the Battle of Long Tan was an appropriate time to move along the regulation shirt and jacket her father Damien Gainer wore in Vietnam during service to Australia.
The serviceman’s uniform had been retained unworn through the intervening years and after Mr Gainer passed away two years ago, their only purpose was in holding memories of what had been.
Although it may not be practical for everybody to go back to making everything for themselves and being completely self-sufficient, Western Australian Julie Livingstone believes it is good for our mental wellbeing to be able to create something.
This is part of what’s described (in Womankind Magazine #9) as ‘living directly’ or facing the world in its raw form, rather than through mediated experiences. Examples of living directly are cooking, sewing, chatting to others in person or patting the cat – whereas mediated living is experiences where someone else (film director, advertising executive or social media tools) is shaping the reality for you. Continue reading
Bron Berkin’s wardrobe is 100 percent restyled, secondhand clothing, upcycled, and vintage pieces. Her love of vintage fashion, stunning fabrics and workmanship of a bygone era – and her attraction to the unique – led Bron into upcycling and recycling preloved clothes as her work evolved from loving and selling original vintage to hand-making individual pieces using vintage fabrics and material that was retro quirky and different.
She now runs a small business designing, sewing and upcycling at Yeppoon in central Queensland. ‘It has been amazing to see people embracing what I was doing and enjoying the ‘one-off’ pieces!”
Slow clothing is a different way of dressing and thinking about clothing than the way most of the world sees it, says New South Wales teenager Eliza Kelly. “It is exciting to think that I can dress in a way that uses old, or out-of-fashion clothing to make something new. I love the way that I can create something original, unique and different. Isn’t it awesome when someone says ‘what a nice …… where did you get it?’ and I can say that I made it! It makes me warm on the inside when I know that I have recycled something and given it another life,” Eliza said.
“The attitude of the world today seems to be that ‘new is better’, and ‘more, more, more’, but I think that there is so much beauty, uniqueness and stories to be told about recycled and re-modelling clothing. There is so much to be gained by recycling and re-using the materials that we have been given, and changing things with older fit, style or fashion to be useable today and tomorrow,” she said.
No one is too old or young to learn a new skill. That’s why south-east Queensland textile artist Wendi Trulson believes everyone can learn to create their own garments by just giving it a go.
Wendi’s passion is bundle (eco print) dyeing because of its sustainable and earth-friendly. It makes one think not only of the material waste but the chemical destruction that poisons the waterways of the world.
Sarah Lundgren believes creativity is important for wellbeing and good health – and is stimulated by the work of the hands and mind.
She learned the basics of sewing from primary and secondary school, having textile as a subject. Sarah’s grateful now that when growing up, her parents empowered her to mend and hem her own clothes. Reusing and recycling clothes was part of her upbringing, yet in recent years she has become more interested in learning how to make outfits and therefore her sewing skills have improved over time.
Australians buy an average of 27 kilograms of new textiles each year and then discard 23 kilograms into landfill – and two-thirds of those discards are manmade fibres that take decades to rot.
Sustainability consultant Jane Milburn said Australians are the second-largest consumers of new textiles after north Americans who annually buy 37kg each, and ahead of Western Europeans at 22kg while consumption in Africa, the Middle East and India averages just 5 kg per person. These figures are sourced from north American magazine Textile World.
“There’s been a transformational shift in the way we source, use and discard our clothing which has major social and environmental implications. Fast fashion produced from global supply chains is driving purchasing of excessive new clothing, often discarded after a few wears,” Ms Milburn said.
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.
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.
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.