Tuesday, March 11, 2008


I will not post a review of the IFFTI08 conference, except to say that the papers I looked forward to didn't disappoint. Yesterday the conference finished with a panel discussion on sustainability and it was a delight to hear the diversity of views from around the world, and more significantly, sense the huge hunger for more knowledge from everyone. The reminder about the development of the Centre for Sustainable Fashion at the London College of Fashion (LCF) was timely; the initiative looks very promising (but I can't find a website). On the whole, I've come back invigorated, and have some very rough ideas for post-doctoral research that would involve industry, too. I did meet some old friends who are doing very well in industry, and the hunger for more knowledge is apparent there, too. I did ask a friend, a designer for one of the largest manufacturers of t-shirts and cotton underwear (all made in Australia) if the company had any plans for even small percentage of organic or other alternative cottons in their products. "We looked into it but the consumers aren't interested", was the response. I doubt this, or at least wonder what the actual percentage of non-interest was. I also wonder when this research was conducted; as Alison Gwilt pointed out on the panel, last year's Earth Hour probably played a huge role in Australia in bringing the environmental crisis to the mainstream. Further, I think the responsibilities are shared, and such a passive approach is sad. This company really could lead, given the volumes of their production. I understand that a 100% shift away from conventional cotton is not possible in an instant - simply, not enough fibre is being grown to meet the potential demand - but examples set by large-scale manufacturers like Nike, Marks & Spencer and Levi's will be followed by many, and soon.

Speaking of denim, I told a friend about the jeans (which admittedly weren't chosen for their environmental friendliness, except maybe durability - I plan to wear them for 5+ years; my oldest pair is 13 or so years old) and she's asked me to blog about them here. I'll certainly check the exact date I bought them, and will photograph them, too, as they are at the moment (in the freezer, to be exact). With four or so months of wear, some of the indigo has worn off where I keep my wallet and keys, and the creases around the crotch, knees and hem - that's my body leaving a very personal imprint on the garment. In fact, when held up from the waist, there is a strong suggestion of the body in them. Because of the freezing there is no smell, but the jeans feel 'dirty' - both have had drenchings of beer, rain and food on them (spot cleaning does the trick), not to mention the natural oils our skins produce.

At the conference I was jokingly referred to as one of the two people in Oz to have Kate Fletcher's book (Sue Thomas is the other); apparently Amazon is having problems with the paperbacks (though do correct me if you know otherwise). Again I spent the flight reading, Chapter 2 titled 'Ethically Made'. Using Donella Meadows' list of systems intervention points and examples from fashion and textiles, Fletcher sets the stage for the future in a most powerful way. I've been reading the book in a rather random fashion, and this chapter has probably had the strongest impact on me to date. As a designer and a design educator I was left feeling empowered and re-energised after reading it. This was partly from the panel discussion, too - the power of all the design educators in the room for a change for better was acknowledged.

I've much more to blog about but other things need addressing urgently. On Monday I saw the final proof for the chapter - I'm very excited.

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