11.04.2013

Art, Fashion, Ecology, and My Year-Long Fast



My friends,

I'm excited to announce a new project I've had in the works since August. The project is called, Make Thrift Mend, and it's an art project focused on sustainable fashion, social practice, “art as action”, and reclaiming traditional garment-making skills. This project is also a “fast-fashion” fast that will be active from August 1, 2013- August 1, 2014. That's right, as of August 1, 2013 I have not purchased a single garment of clothing that does not fit the project guidelines.

Sadly, this means no denim from the Gap, no bohemian dresses from Anthropologie, and no trendy accessories from Target. I've been shopping in thrift stores and dappling in garment making for years--but this is a much bigger commitment. And it's already changing my life. For the better.

So why did I begin? I was outraged by the factory collapse in Bangladesh in spring 2013 killing more than 1,000 workers; inspired by the NPR interview with Elizabeth Cline author of, Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion; and prompted by Natalie Chanin’s blog post regarding slow design–I needed something to change.

As many of you remember, I started concentrating on making my own clothing this summer and attended a few textile-focused workshops. That's when I decided to take the plunge. I used this information to inspire a process-based art project that would allow me to engage with slow fashion, stage a personal artist’s protest, and delve deeper into the intersection of art, fashion, and sustainability. It also allows me to continue with other studio work while growing this project over the course of the year.
 
From August 1, 2013- Augst 1, 2014 I’ve committed to a fast-fashion fast. As part of my journey to resist the fast-fashion industry– and it’s unethical labor and ecological practices– I will focus on making my own clothing, shopping for thrifted, vintage, and/ or used clothing, and learning the disappearing crafts of mending, darning, preserving and making garments.

I will take this investigation one step further by aiming to buy used clothing that is made of natural materials (cotton, linen, wool, hemp, silk, etc) to reduce the petrochemicals in my closet. So far, this last part has been trickier than I imagined--I never realized that so many contemporary garments are made with synthetics. It's certainly insisted I utilize "slow fashion" when shopping the thrift stores. I will also research "ethical" fashion brands and only buy any new clothing--and very limited at that--from these sustainable sources.

Throughout the year I will offer DIY tutorials, create an extensive resource list, share my process, and document my garment making. Upon completing the project it’s my intention to organize an interactive exhibition complete with objects and artifacts gathered throughout the year. I have several ideas for this exhibition/ installation but I'll wait until I'm much further along before I commit. I also hope to offer classes and workshops that relate to the project--online and in-person. All the information will be documented on my new website: Make Thrift Mend.

Eep! Now, it's official. I've declared it from this little virtual mountain.

xoxo,
k

22 comments:

  1. How I admire your project. And how many times I've sworn to make a similar commitment! While I do reuse and recycle clothes a lot, I could do much more. Perhaps now is the time to do just that. I've had a good look at your lovely new website, noted down some paths to pursue, and will be very interested should you offer some online classes ;) Good luck and happy hunting!

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    1. thank you! and so good to know you'd be interested in some online classes. thanks for your kind words.

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  2. You're super awesome! I just looked at the new website-- so good! Would love to see more pictures of you wearing the clothes showing that used and home-made can look good on too!

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    1. hi you! thanks for your encouraging words. oh, the fine balance of inserting myself directly into the work versus trying to keep the work outwardly focused. yes, a few modeling shots. okay, okay. xoxoxo

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  3. My dear we *need* to have coffee sometime soon! I am super excited for you and your year of making. It's not going to be a year-long fast, it will be a slow and knowing you - a lovely one.

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    1. yes! i'd love to have coffee soon. oh, yes please. and thanks for your kind words, sonya. your class helped me make this commitment.

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  4. So happy to be part of this with you. xo

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  5. I've been doing a of this myself for years. Today I finnished a jumper/sweater made from recyced yarn, yarn ripped from an old item. Then I stared another. I try to make/thrift everything for my family of six. I will be watching this space closely.

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    1. hooray to you! i've been an artist and a maker for a long time. a thrift store regular. but this commitment is taking my "slow fashion" thinking to another level. inspired by your commitment too. welcome, here.

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  6. You are amazing! I have had this idea brewing also but lack a) sewing skills and b) guts. I can't wait to watch your journey.

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    1. eep! thank you. sewing skills + guts. oh, i like this summary :)

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  7. Wonderful project! I'm currently researching my options for repairing two of my sweaters--a start. From what I've seen so far, it's totally doable, even for an amateur like me. Thank you for the inspiration, Katrina.

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    1. hi denise! so nice to see you here again. yes, repairing beloved sweaters is a very good start. any start is a very good start in my book. you can totally do it! xo

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  8. oh gosh I love this idea, katrina! cant wait to watch it unfold! x

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  9. This is such a great idea, Katrina. I will be following your efforts and hopefully learning a thing or two! :)

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Thank you for your comments, friends. I like to think we are creating a dialogue in this space--building a virtual community.