Exploring a new fashion culture grounded in localism, the Fashion Ecologies project saw how we dress as part of an integrated whole, of real-world relationships and interactions between land and community.
Exploring a new fashion culture grounded in localism, Fashion Ecologies saw how we dress as part of an integrated whole of real-world relationships and interactions between land and community shaped by stewardship of nature, affection for place, diversity, social responsibility and fewer goods.
The aim of Fashion Ecologies was to develop new knowledge and practice that springs from place as a route to sustainability change in fashion. It did this by understanding localism not as a materials and supply chain issue alone or as single items, like, say, iconic British pieces or traditional materials, but as a dynamic mix of resources and interactions in an area: the sum of what a place can offer.
Foregoing received wisdom and nostalgic ideas about ‘local fashion’, the project set out from where we are. It engaged in close examination of a place, its surroundings and the social and material resources there as the gateway for engaging a changed future for fashion.
New methods for localism and findings
The task of recording place-based fashion interactions, relationships and related resource flows is a highly unusual one – a hybrid anthropological-scientific investigation – that few conventional textiles and clothing research methods are set up to deal with.
Fashion Ecologies needed new methods. We adapted existing and created new methods that included mapping, drawing, interviewing, auditing and loitering. These methods were inspired by art practice, ethnology, soft systems methodologies and ecology research, among others. They gathered data from both the formal and informal economy, from private and public spaces, that which conformed to conventional ideas of what constitutes valuable clothing activity, and also that which did not.
The findings pointed towards fashion as an integrated whole: garments, clothing practices, production, people, place – including unpopular parts; not reducible to single components. It orchestrates a whole system of fashion activity, broader than that seen through the lens of materials and production alone.
This makes fashion localism part practical infrastructure – supportive individuals, skills development, knowledge of where to buy materials, tools etc.; and part conceptual leap – seeking to reimagine garment-related interactions and decentralised modes of production as valuable clothing activity.
It marks fashion localism out a collective process and long term garment-related dialogue concerned with sustaining the place it is in, which may take the form of products, brands or government policy. It is garment-related activity that is culture and nature improving. It sometimes contributes to economic growth.
Explore the more of the project’s findings via Fashion Ecologies.
Following Fashion Ecologies, a series of micro projects were formed including:
Explore online publications related to Fashion Ecologies:
Special issue of the journal ‘Fashion Practice’ on Fashion Localism
Explore printed publications related to Fashion Ecologies:
Fletcher, K. 2018. The Fashion Land Ethic: localism, clothing activity and Macclesfield, Journal of Fashion Practice, 10(2), pp139-159.
Fletcher, K and Vittersø, G. 2018. Local food initiatives and fashion change: comparing food and clothes to better understand fashion localism, Journal of Fashion Practice, 10(2), pp160-170.
Professor Kate Fletcher, Professor of Sustainability Design & Fashion at CSF, UAL
Lizzie Harrison, Research Assistant at CSF, UAL