Recent articles have me thinking more about the Slow Clothes (Fashion) movement. Driven by many of the same principles as the Slow Food movement, the Slow Clothes movement focuses on clothing produced in a sustainable and thoughtful way. Enabling conscientious buyers to know and control where their clothing comes from and the working conditions of the people producing it. Both models come from the feeling that we must take environmental, health and social issues into account when making purchases for even (and especially) our basic needs. Slow Clothes is therefore an answer to the current buy it cheap and throw it away mentality of our current system.
The August/September 2013 issue of American Craft Magazine, among other goodies, had a thought provoking article called Think Globally, Dress Locally, an interview with Rebecca Burgess by Danielle Maestretti. I hope you read it.
In the interview Rebecca Burgess, well known for her book Harvesting Color; talks about the Fibershed movement. You can find more about the movement at www.rebeccaburgess.com. The essence of a Fibershed is that fiber producers, processors and crafts people work together to produce clothing for their region. Again it works in a similar way to only eating locally grown foods.
One of the issues discussed in the interview was the lack of qualified crafts people, even if you can get the materials in your region, can you find skilled people to make your clothing? If so, can you afford it? www.fibershed.com gives a list of producers, designers and makers (a shocking lack of weavers) for the Northern California Fibershed as well as resources for others to start Fibersheds in their regions.
All of this presents me with an epic list of questions to explore; I would greatly appreciate any feedback or opinions you have.
Is this a mission I can get behind? (well, obviously)
I would need to learn the ins and outs of weaving for clothing production. Could I completely revamp my processes and tools to meet the needs of weaving yardage for others? Could I weave cloth fine enough for a summer shirts?
Could I collaborate with a seamstress or tailor to make the clothing out of the yardage I provide?
Would I enjoy weaving yardage?
Could/would my services and products be affordable? Could I afford them myself; even with the “I know the weaver” discount?
Since my region is rather limited in fiber production; what would my criteria be? Would it be reasonable to define my region as grown in the US on small sustainable farms?
Most of the handwoven clothing available on the market now are high end art pieces. Is their a market for the artisan model with an everyday approach to clothing design?
Another passion is to help support the efforts of organic cotton farmers in India and Africa, keeping them away from the debt of the fertilizer and chemical sellers. While this is not regional, for me, the spirit of it is the same. Would I be walking away from the potential to be a purposeful consumer of their products? Can the amount I purchase actually make a difference to these farmers in the first place?
These are all questions I plan to explore over the next few months. Again, I value your feedback.