POWr Banner Slider

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Dr Fletcher's 'Use Practices' or Practical and Symbolic Ways to Think About Clothing



Today we're thinking about Dr Fletcher's 'Use Practices' as featured on the Local Wisdom fashion research website.


She writes,

Garments are used in many satisfying and resourceful ways influenced by a fusion of body, mind, habit, technique, stories and the piece itself. Local Wisdom has been gathering tales of how people use their garments since 2009 and taking portrait shots of the owners in their pieces. We are applying these use practices to inspire alternative ways to create, wear and think about fashion in an interdependent world.

The categories listed are:

Alternative Dress Codes
My Community
Climate-led Behaviour
Patina of Use
Easy Repair
Open and Adjust
Super Long Life
Perfect Piece
Action Tools
Connections
See Things Differently
Shared Use
Flexible Thinking
Ethics of Use
Never Washed
Intensive Use
Mixed Use
Of Value
Mending
Garment Co-operation
Limits to Action
Material Resourcefulness
Transfer of Ownership
Skills of Resourcefulness


And, in detail:

Alternative Dress Codes
The choices we make about what we wear are influenced by life present, lives past and our ideas about our future selves. Expressions of values, aspirations, heritage, understanding and the physical shape of our bodies build a rationale for dress that transcend narrow commercial views about fashion. Instead they give us broader perspectives that honour our reality as well as our aspirations; and connect our psyche with our fibre and fashion choices.

My Community
In smaller communities people can more easily see the effects of their own actions on each other and the environment. They can also better understand the ramifications of their choices; allowing them to take responsbility for them. Expressing community through our garment choices sews the seeds of a new type of self-reliance in fashion based on connection to people and place.

Climate-led Behaviour
The way clothes are worn constantly changes, in response to economics, culture and the environment. In cold and hot weather nations, the drive to save energy at home and reduce carbon emissions by turning heating thermostats down and cooling units up brings a new (old) focus onto clothes to shelter, protect and nurture.

Patina of Use
With our garments, as with our bodies, the passing of time leaves its mark. Our relationship with these imprints is complex in both domains. With clothes, we sometimes discard pieces because they are ageing, dated, jaded or worn; at other times we buy vintage or pre-distressed pieces, coveting that which looks old. Yet these both overlook the power and pleasure of marking the passing of time as it is recorded in our clothes; the forging of memories, building of knowledge, evolution of appearance.

Easy Repair
The fashion industry’s industrial cut and sew techniques produce a polished garment, so polished in fact that it seems complete as is, closed to improvisation from the ‘outside’. But the design and construction of some garments are different, more like a work in progress, open to adaptation and repair and to building understanding about how things are made.

Open and Adjust
Garments can be reworked to meet changing needs. The knowledge and skills to open up a garment and adjust it to fit enrich and embolden society. They remind us about ingenuity and resourceful possibility and help replace consumption with action.

Super Long Life
Making a garment last is very different to making a long-lasting garment. Enduring use is often difficult to predict. It is specific and personal and linked more with ways of thinking, experiences and memories than materials. Finding ways to access these may be critical to third, fourth or fifth lives.

Perfect Piece
Consumerist fashion is all about what is right on trend, right for uniform mass-manufacture and ultimately right for the figures on a balance sheet. Lost in the mix are a garment’s finesse, fit, appropriateness; and the space to nurture individuality, skills and confidence in a wearer to recognise and revel in the ‘rightness’ of a particular piece.

Finding the right partnership between wearer and garment is the difference between using a piece time and again or throwing it away. Each partnership, like each person, is different. Matching one with the other and being open to the almost limitless variety of possibilities this enables, underscores fashion system diversity.

Action Tools
The tools of use become an extension of our creative expression and shape our engagement with the world. Courtesy of simple or sophisticated technology, they open up alternative pathways of action.

Connections
The link between a person and a garment can never be planned for, but has lasting impact when a garment becomes a life-long companion. It reveals the potential for change in each individual and often marks that in the associations with a piece, for single, small actions can have big effects.

See Things Differently
Garments are both material and message. They cover us up – and reveal us – physically and emotionally. They hold potential to alter how we feel and how we see things, which in turn, change the things we see.

Shared Use
Sharing clothes saves resources if it means fewer pieces are bought. For garments to have multiple users, fit matters; but they also have to be shared with the right people. Sharing works when a bond and joint identity is reinforced by common use; when a memory is re-lived; and when access is gained not just to more and different pieces but also to the values, taste and sensibilities of the owner.

Flexible Thinking
Wearing the same piece but with with a fluid attitude of openness and flexibility can find novelty in new places. The garment itself stays the same, but the rules and roles of wearing it are re-interpreted. Use is intensified; resources are saved; individuality is reclaimed.

Ethics of Use
Brands control upstream supply chains assiduously; but downstream, after a garment is sold, the user is in charge. A user’s actions can uphold a brand’s values, be incurious about them or subvert them in a range of direct or subtle ways. Defiance comes in many forms: the protestations of a blog, the cutting and reworking of scissors and thread, or the attitude with which a garment is worn, upending the worldview of the corporation that made it.

Never Washed
Laundering is high impact and yet not laundering is socially unacceptable. But some pieces defy social pressure and are never washed, often motivated by the fear that laundering causes something precious to be lost: a scent, a memory, the particular way a garment fits, the quality of handwork, and even a political stance.

Intensive Use
Some garments are worn almost daily. They become both a backdrop to - and practical facilitator of - our lives and reflect true resourcefulness. Their features speak of an ethic of extended iterative use.

Mixed Use
Irrespective of design intention, a garment can sometimes meet many needs, functioning in ways that are unplanned and idiosyncratic. It calls into being a way of thinking that is primed for making such connections and opens a door to increased use possibilities.

Of Value
The intrinsic value of material goods is discounted by consumerism; yet many of us still sense our "stuff" is of value. It is part of a process of reacquainting ourselves with a "true" materialism where we tend and care for material goods more deliberately; where we see ourselves as more conscientious custodians of our material world. 

Mending
To repair a garment and keep it in active service is to practice the skill of user-ship. It calls upon human senses to diagnose what needs to be done and the right emotional tone to carry it through. Stitching, darning, patching and remodelling oversee a subtle shift in the power relations associated with garments: for the work of mending, unlike the world of production, is about people not machines.

Garment Co-operation
Some garments require a wearer's involvement for them to work well on the body. Others act together differently: using physical form and structure to co-operate with life. They aid and abet and mould our world.

Limits to Action
As humans we are all finite and faillible: there are limits to what we can do. In recognising the veracity of boundaries we can reflect lived experience and artfully recognise the usefulness of drivers like novelty, variety and nature that influence our lives.

Material Resourcefulness
Garments are fusions of materials and energy brought to the body in myriad configurations, yet the dominant force in fashion, consumerism, tends to value only a narrow spectrum of fashion activity. The practices of material resourcefulness broaden this view and show a burgeoning testing ground of an alternative flows of fibre, fabric and product. 

Transfer of Ownership
Giving a garment to someone else is sometimes a straightforward and spontaneous act. At other times a transfer of ownership is more circuitous. Periods of overlapping ownership often intensify resource use and stud a garment’s story with memories.

Skills of Resourcefulness
Creative activists contribute greatly to society through innovation and experiment, taking on projects that fail to hit the radar of conventional industry. Their work is a training ground for new practices, for trialling novel approaches and reviving old skills that promote alternative ideas about fashion provision and consumption.


What do you think?





Saturday, 8 November 2014

Have Slow Design Questions, Working on a Textiles Project, Need Research Input or Access to the Slow Textiles London Studio?






Every week, as the founder of Slow Textiles, I receive dozens of questions from interested designers, graduates and amateurs who seek keen answers to their textile design and making questions, thoughts, ideas and plans.

In order to be able to reply to everyone's questions, I've added a Personal Tutorial booking option open to everyone. Personal tutorials have been available to Slow Textiles Group members for a long time now to help focus their creative thoughts, making and strategy - and now, everyone can benefit!

For up to one hour costs £60 and in this time a lot of ground is covered, satisfying questions, curiosity, needs and helping you progress with your project, enterprise and journey. Feedback notes and a summary of the key points covered are then sent to you as reference, guide and plan of action.

Just click on the Non-Members Tutorial Booking button to the right of this page and type your preferred day and time options (add your country too) and I'll email you with a confirmed time to Skype.

I look forward to meeting you online soon!

Emma