Archives for posts with tag: sustainable fashion

It’s been nasty out lately – snow, snow showers, slushy snow, freezing rain.. Well, you know!!  And even if this is my 3rd Winter in NYC, my wardrobe is still not prepared for this weather (talk about Winter denial..).

And it was with wet weather on my mind that I came across the exhibition ” Beauty Born of Use: Natural Rainwear from China and Japan”, now on view at the Textile Museum of Canada. The exhibition features examples of rainwear made in mid 20th century in China and Japan. The garments were made using plant materials that were available locally and renewable, like bamboo, tree barks, reeds, etc, without compromising in a bit the fantastic design.

Rain cape, rice straw, bast fiber, cotton, China, mid 20th century

According to the Textile Museum’s most recent educational tool, Social Fabric (please make a minute to check it, it’s so worth it!), this cape was made using rice straw that was folded and stitched together, assuming the appearance and functionality of a thatched roof. People in remote areas of China still wear these capes to this day.

Rain cape; palm bark fiber, bast fiber, cotton; China, mid 20th century

Rain hat, plant material, grass, Japan, mid 20th century

Since early times, the people in these countries have been using the materials locally available to construct waterproof garments. For instance, in China, this kind of garments go back earlier than Ming dynasty, and where woven using straw, grass and pipal tree leaves. In Japan, people also always used what was readily available to make garments, like rice and wheat straw, reed, bark, vines, and seaweed. However, all these skills and traditions for making weather resistant garments are being forgotten, and like everywhere being replaced by the ubiquitous plastic.

I think rain and snow wouldn’t be so bad if I was protected by one of this! If you’re going to Toronto before May 1, make sure you make a stop to go see and admire these garments. And please tell me more about it!


Good ideas usually do, and thanks to Maya at Sewing Rebellion we’ve now started the Mending Circle as a new monthly gathering. Last night was the first!

We weren’t sure what to expect — we’ve had many sorts of free workshops, and other open houses. We hadn’t had the time to promote it properly, so didn’t expect a large crowd.

It was the loveliest group! 10 or so people, who brought their own projects, chatting about life, textiles, and what-not — just a completely fun and mellow vibe. (Though I was stuck working in the office, it was so nice to hear and see it going on)

In particular, this kind of workshop suits our mission precisely. We will be able to bring in monthly guests, focus on specific mending skills, and aim to share and teach as much as possible to both those who know how and those who want to know how. However, this was a new vibe — a group of people who genuinely wanted the company while getting back to left projects or fix that sweater that got tossed in back of the closet.

(sorry — no images of our own yet)

While educating will always be part of the mission, the other part is fostering a community. This was such a perfect example of what we hoped would happen without forcing it — bringing together many, or few, people who want to meet, and both give and take within the situation. Everyone had something to share, whether a new skill, a story, or just advice. We look forward to this continuing throughout the year.

Ecouterre’s recent article on sustainable fashion predictions for 2011 went through a ton of great ideas and thoughts from a fantastic set of people. One idea that stands out to us continuously is that if anything is to change in the fashion industry, it is very much in the hands of the consumer. Designers and producers have their job, too, but there is only so far that can go. As consumers, if we want to talk the talk, we must walk the walk (annoying-but-true phrase). Buying quality items, being creative and making things for ourselves, simply mending old things, or transforming them into something new and exciting. It’s a mindset of appreciating what we have and, with the money we do decide to treat ourselves with, buy something beautiful from a designer that we believe in. And then mend it, and make it work forever.

Thanks to everyone who came out! Though Mending Circle will normally be the first Thursday of each  month, join us next in February for a special on during NY Fashion Week. More info to come..

Terribly sorry for the serious/lecture post, but just a reminder that you can count on TAC if you are looking for the skills or the community. : )

I’ll leave you on a snowy Friday with this awesome video about Michael Swaine, who years ago turned an ice cream cart into a portable sewing table in Tenderloin area of San Fran, and has since made quite an impact. Make sure you watch — totally worth it.

 

(courtesty SFGate)

 

Our shoemaking class starts today and I couldn’t be more excited for being part of it. During 4 weeks we’ll be learning how to design and construct our own leather moccasins with Mark Schuyer.

While I was dreaming about the shoes I’ll make, I came across with this ones, via unconsumption:
They are made by unu-life, a London-based design company that “hopes to inspire a greater appreciation of our physical surroundings” and “raise awareness of environmental and social issues and to create things that enrich our material lives”.

These slippers are made from a single sheet of recycled leather, using neither glue or stitching. They come to you flat-packed and ready to be assembled by simply folding the leather according to the instructions:

“The design stems from deconstructing the physical concept of footwear into its component parts, taking one of those elements – pattern making – and rebuilding it in its purest form. The result is a simple, understandable product that engages consumers in the act of assembly and enhances their sense of ownership.” (in unu-life)

unu-footwear also aims to call the consumers attention and appreciation of the physical quality in the products that surround us.

Living in a society that generally promotes fast, blind and massive consumption, it’s really wonderful to see more and more design companies working towards creating products that force you to stop and think about them, their materials, and their impact the environment and in our lives.And that maybe will inspire us to go to our homes, studios or classes and create/re-create something way more meaningful and conscientious than what you’d normally get by impulse in store.

We at TAC, and I personally, don’t totally agree with New York Times’ Worn Out Fashion Terms List– DIY is not dead(!) and the question if either it’s worthy to make your own instead of spending a couple of dollars buying it from a chain store, it’s not even a real question if you think about the pleasure of making time for design and constructing exactly what you dreamed of.

 

 

 

New Year, New Life.

The Textile Arts Center has teamed up with Sewing Rebellion NYC to host a new monthly free workshop, The Mending Circle.

The Mending Circle wants especially to be a place for people to meet, share skills and make time for fixing and mending clothes and textiles.

Our society produces way too many textiles, with unfortunately  a huge impact on the environment. The “wear-tear-and-buy-new” cannot be an acceptable attitude. So starting in 2011, we all need to be responsible for the change.

Mending is one of the oldest rituals related to textiles, as old as textile production itself, and has mostly been lost. We all remember that our grandmothers used to know how to darn socks, but no one seems to remember the how-to part anymore.

We also like to believe that the things we own are full of meaning. And clothes aren’t different. Like the dress we wore on the first date with John, but also on our first day at work and even to that funny random afternoon at the park. Our clothes are full of our lives and are part of us. And thus, should stay with us and be nurtured and taken care of.

TAC and Sewing Rebellion share the belief that we can start making the difference with little things, such as mending our own clothes and using them forever. We also want help preserve memory and the simple mending skills for future generations.

Come join us on the first Thursday of every month, starting next January 6th, from 6:30 to 9pm. Bring clothes to mend, new and old projects, friends and skills and knowledge to share. We’ll have sewing machines, needles, thread, notions and friendly people to help you.

This past weekend, much to the G trains chagrin, I headed up to Greenpoint  for a lecture/discussion with Tara St. James, designer of sustainable line Study NY.

The discussion happened at the MOVES Pop Up shop at 214 Franklin St, and focused on clothing manufacturing and the differences between choosing to produce locally vs. overseas.

I’m so happy that Tara invited me to come. The mimosas were free, got to catch up with Titania Inglis and Greta Eagan, met some really great new people, and happily discovered MOVES. The Pop Up shop (up until Christmas!) houses a group of great independent clothing and jewelry designers including founder Ruffeo Hearts Lil Snotty, Study NY, H Fredriksson, and more. (see below for list and pics)

Tara led us in the discussion and shared her history, opinions on sustainability, and resources. The amount of transparency was definitely applauded by attendees who were mostly designers. Though I already adored her, my respect for Tara grew by 3PM when we all finally dispersed. Her honesty and dedication to working sustainably, and the time she spends on educating and mentoring.. To name a few of her side projects: an intern project Study Hall, and mentorship with Awamaki Weaving Lab. She’s just really great. And I would like to purchase majority of her designs:

 

(courtesy 4equalsides.com)

MOVES is a project collaboration by Ruffeo Hearts Lil Snotty and Williamsburg Fashion Weekend. Once the discussion started, I was more clear on MOVES purpose: to bring designers, artists, and consumers together to share inspiration, resources, and networks in order to aid others in their design process, production, promotion. The point being to educate the public, as well, and lend a hand to fellow designers… much friendlier than the cutthroat scene we might expect or are accustomed to. My shy-self was quite relieved.

This lecture was the first of many interesting events that MOVES has planned. How about a new hair cut this Sunday with a french coiffure? Or music, drinks, and a Tam Aura trunk show on Saturday?

For your Holiday Shopping Pleasure here are some images and list of participating designers:

 

Ruffeo Hearts Lil Snotty

(courtesy rhls.com)

 

H Fredricksson

(courtesy hfredriksson.com)

 

Andy Lifschutz

(courtesy andylifschutz.com)

 

Tam Aura

(courtesy tamaura.com)

 

All Participating Designers:

CLEO’S CABINET

DICK MOVE RECORDS

FABRIC HORSE

JO ANNE BERMAN

KING GURVY

LA CHINA LOCA

MARY SAVEL

MINNAE CHAE

RECESSION CLOTHING

RUFFEO HEARTS LIL SNOTTY

SDN

STUDY NEW YORK

TAM AURA DESIGNS

ANDREW LIFSCHUTZ

SHIRLEY ANN REMPE

H FREDRIKSSON

TITTY HAWK

The corsets are being tightened, stockings pulled up, hairspray flying so you can’t even breathe, and everyone is getting a spray tan.  Yes tonight is Fashion’s Night Out, and on top of that Ecouterre.com and Textile Arts Center’s “Celebrating Slow” event begins tonight at 6pm.

In this blog I want to highlight all the fabulous, free workshops which will be taking place tonight.

Giana González of Hacking Couture is a Panamanian interaction designer and artist. Her work explores the dissection and re-appropriation of culture and/or design and their systems in means of finding opportunities for new expressions and experiences. She is not attached to a specific medium. Giana’s work has been shown in the US and overseas in venues like Eyebeam Atelier, Garanti Gallery, and Columbia College’s A+D Gallery. She has also participated in events like Maker Faire and Siggraph among others.  “Fueling her passion for interactive design are her personal interests in participation, personal expression, and style. Giana is excited by creating experiences that empower individuals to communicate and express themselves. Fashion is a huge influence on her work because she sees a strong parallel between its cycles and technological progress. Giana believes that both fields could enrich each others methods. This is evident in the DIY events and projects She has led, like Hacking Couture workshops where fashion consumers become the designers.” For more information check out her personal website here.

Hacking Couture is a platform for launching new fashion creations through an open source approach of reverse engineering fashion brands and making the code available online. Hands on workshops encourage participants to create using the codes regardless of their level of fashion knowledge, and to engage in the larger fashion conversation. By understanding the coding of established fashion, this project provides a platform to empower participants to step up and create.

Come hack Sustainable Fashion with us tonight beginning promptly at 6.


Isa Rodrigues is a Portuguese angel, princess, master dyer, and studio manager of the Textile Arts Center.  She is an amazing teacher and is thrilled to be teaching a quick little workshop on natural dyeing with objects you can find in your cupboards or in your garden.  Tonight you can learn how to dye with flowers that come to us from our local community garden, red cabbage, and a couple more surprise dying materials.  To see a quick how-to video Isa made with Brooklyn Mini-Skills click here.

Bags for the People is a non-profit organization that is reducing the use of plastic bags through sewing workshops.  These workshops are designed to educate communities on green environmental practices though creative thought.  By using donated fabrics from donated bolts, old clothing, and scraps one will sew their own reusable tote.  If you don’t know how to sew that’s ok because BFTP provides knowledgable instructors to help with basic sewing skills and tote bag patterns. It was started in 2009 by 3 friends who worked at the Union Square Farmers Market and observed an unethical waste of plastic bags.   They began to hold these sewing mini workshops in the market and it took off.  The organization now collaborates with art institutes bringing their mission straight to the creative pods.  Bags for the People also have a series of workshops at the Textile Arts Center, for the next workshop check out their Art Happenings Page.

Sewing Rebellion hosted by Maya Valladares will be a tutorial on how to mend your pesky holes and tears that come with years of loving your clothes.  Patching is really fundamental to Sewing Rebellion’s mission of making good clothes last, and customizing them to be personal and political as well as pretty.  By using extra scrap fabrics and a little know-how you can make a worn piece feel like new.  Maya Valladares currently works at the Brooklyn Museum coordinating their gallery and studio programs as well as the studio art programs.  She also is a freelance teacher working Brooklyn Museum, Escola de Arte (Brazil) and the Laundromat Project.  Her workshops focus on textile arts and clothing design.  She has always been a big supporter of the Center and we are thrilled to be supporting her and Sewing Rebellion.

Drink a coffee, prepare your wallet, do a little stretching, do whatever you need to do to pump yourself up for this amazing Fashion’s Night Out.  Remember that to participate in the Hacking Sustainable Fashion workshop you must RSVP.  Currently spots to participate in the workshop itself is full and there has begun a waiting list, but please come join us for the informative and fun presentation and learn about this amazing industry.  This workshop begins promptly at 6pm.

The Ecouterre.com Sustainable Panel begins at 7pm and there is limited seating.  There will be standing room available.

Thanks everyone and have a great Fashion’s Night Out!