Too often these days sustainability is hijacked by big business, presented as a logistical and technical challenge and framed in corporate language. Bold and experimental design or emerging patterns of behaviour are often written off as non-commercial or seen as too risky to explore or promote. The onus is on us to keep challenging this homogenisation of the sustainability space, to keep saying that just because something is small or niche doesn’t mean it should be overlooked. On the contrary, it is often the small ideas that effect the biggest change, after all people respond to the personal, the intimate. Have you ever noticed how big brands constantly use familial language to entice their customers to buy? Does the phrase ‘every little helps’ spring to mind?
i-Sustain, our year long project with i-D magazine was all about the idea that every little helps but not just every little penny, every little idea that breaks the mould, every little action that makes a positive contribution, every little business that bravely ventures into the cutthroat world of mainstream fashion, flying the flag for value that goes beyond cost.
When I started i-Sustain, I wanted to celebrate the businesses I had worked with who genuinely strive to do things differently. I wanted to create an alternative narrative that promotes fashion as a living interaction between the designer, the maker and the wearer. i-D was the perfect partner, they have a voice that rings out way beyond our sphere of influence and they are the greatest advocates of counter culture and individual style. i-D was a publication whose support could help us set aside outdated attitudes towards fashion and sustainability and challenge conventional aesthetics.
I was very lucky to work with a team of people who have vision, who know that to create a narrative in fashion you must create a living world in which that narrative exists. The whole year was an experiment, a balancing act between words and images; recognising that both have a vital role to play in changing attitudes. I hope that we were able to name the contribution that many small businesses have made and are making in an evolving dialogue around fashion and sustainability. I believe their contribution has the potential not only to challenge the practices and processes of fashion but also to influence and impact the way we feel about our clothes and therefore the way we act in relation to them.
This week I’ve asked Kerry Dean our photographer, to pick out her five favourite images from the project and share them on the CSF Facebook page, I’ll also be revisiting some of the conclusions I came to at the end of the project and asking myself whether I am able to practice what I preach.
Visit i-D online to find out more about the project.