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  • CSF

Fashion meets climate change


Earlier this year, the MET Office came to Centre for Sustainable Fashion at London College of Fashion to film some of our community of designers and researchers for a series called ‘My Climate and Me‘. This became the beginning of a wonderful partnership between CSF and the MET Office, which came to life over the weekend in the form of a Climate and Fashion Hackathon, hosted at the V&A as part of the 2013 London Design Festival. Over 21 & 22 September, designers, scientists, artists and technologists worked together to ‘hack’ the challenges around fashion and climate change. The Hackathon was open to the public, and visitors were encouraged to ask questions, interact and participate through out the process.

The Hackathon faced 6 key challenges that were developed by the MET Office, CSF and the University of Dundee Product Design Group:

  1. The Climate Dress: Directed by Professor Helen Storey the challenge was to create a beautiful canvas on which our future climate could be realised.

  2. A Comfortable Old Age: To look at wearable technology and clever data analysis to address climate change and the pressures of an ageing population.

  3. The Climate and Fashion Game: To create an interactive and educational tool

  4. Empathy and Shared Extremes: Directed by Dilys Williams the challenge was to connect the extremes of climate change, and urbanisation through fashion.

  5. Stealth: To look at climate change and bird migration patterns and connect with fashion

  6. Mystery Challenge!

With teams formed, the energetic room hacked traditional notions and conventional aesthetics of fashion as unexpected collaborations formed and new technologies introduced. For the empathy and extremes challenge, Dilys Williams and the guys from the MET Office, Exeter College and fellow CSFers looked at the ways fashion and climate scientists are interested in extremes, realising it is often at the edges (not the averages) that lie dangers and opportunities. We identified London as a place of extremes, cultures, style, weather conditions, it is here we see wild variations in a short space of time. Adaptability and connectivity became clear themes in exploring the ways we can survive in 2050 London and the underground/tube became the focus of the challenge as it is less adaptable than our attire and yet it is vital to our connection. What we came up with at the end of a day and a half was a new design methodology and prototypes to test it out. Working with the team as well as interacting with the public we created, learnt and shared ideas in a unique way, the insights of which will take our Habit(AT) project (more on this later) to a new place.

Helen Storey led a great team in experimentations around the possibilities of bringing how we feel about our world to the surface, using creative means, technology, projection and data. Through this, a rough and ready prototype of a ‘Climate dress’ was formed and although the ultimate outcome would be to find a means to make any textile surface data receptive, in a light touch, battery free and seamless way, this challenge enabled the wearer to have the means to share the nature of what they were feeling to the wider world. The plan now is to develop this into a technology which can be used to shout both the individual and collective voice. A perfect end to the London Design Festival, this hackathon illustrated the creative potential of open collaboration and the possibilities for fashion in addressing the environmental and social problems arising from climate change. We continue to work with the MET Office team and other partnerships formed from the Hackathon, on a major piece of citizen action to be launched at the next Climate Summit in Paris, in 2015.

A film of the hackathon, made by the V&A will be available soon and the My Climate & Me film on fashion & climate change is due out in two weeks time.

Watch a short film by Alina Moat which set the scene for the fashion and climate change hackathon.


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