What I Learnt from Fashion Revolution’s FREE Online Course…

On the 22nd of May I finished my second year of University. And by the 13th June I had completed Fashion Revolution’s 4 week course on Fashion’s Future and the Sustainable Development Goals. Some might say I couldn’t bare the thought of having zero form of education. Realistically, I just had to take advantage of the resources available before Future Learn made me pay into a subscription- #poorstudentlife.

Anyways, I thought it would be beneficial to document somewhat of an overview of the month. For my own reference, and with the possibility that something sparks an interest or at the very least, sits in your subconscious until triggered.

Week 1

The first week seemed to be a general introduction into how sustainability can be defined; holistically in the industry and generally how it should be achieved within planetary boundaries (Johan Rockstr√∂m, 2007). Finally, briefly including which of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) would coincide with the course- circled above.

Week 2

The second week dived into SDG 1 (No Poverty) and SDG 5 (Gender Equality). The Fashion industry- in particular fast fashion- have arguably a lot to answer for when it comes to garment workers receiving in most cases, a ‘below the living standard’ income. Deloitte Access Economics for Oxfam found that 4% of the price of a piece of clothing is estimated to make it back to the workers. Side note: If you haven’t been following #PayUp on Instagram, then get to it! The pandemic has caused BIG brands to cancel BILLIONS of dollars worth of orders, leaving garment workers in crisis mode.

Meanwhile, I found it equally as interesting that CARE International included 1 in 3 women working in garment factories had reported sexually harassing behaviour in the last year. That already doesn’t sit right with me, without thinking about all the times it wasn’t reported. However, one initiative worth researching is the Good Business Lab. Their projects include; unlocking female labour; improving work environment; closing the skill gap and building holistic health.

Week 3

From the third week, I was learning about the damaging, waste culture of the industry. For example, its estimated the fashion industry emits 1.2 billion tonnes of CO2e a year. With clothing as the 4th largest environmental impact after housing, transport and food in the U.K (WRAP).

More specifically at SDG 14: conserve and sustainably use oceans, seas and marine resources. Synthetic fibres such as polyester, are made up of microfibres that can shed over its lifetime, particularly when put in the washing machine (Environmental Audit Committee, 2019). 35% of all microplastics come from clothing and textiles and its expected by 2050 for there to be more plastic than fish in the sea. Fortunately from the course, I learnt that France are leading the way for improvement. In February 2020, the country brought in legislative steps for microfibre pollution. Including that by January 2025, all new washing machines will have to include a filter to catch the microfibres before they’re released into water systems.

Week 4

By the final week it was time to look at the industry’s options. The initiatives already in place such as Lenzing’s ‘Refibra Tencel’ fabric that uses pre-consumer cotton scraps and wood pulp. Or Swedish government proposed a 50% tax break for repair on shoes, clothes and bikes which supports the ‘make do and mend’ mentality we should have. Finally, the industry should try to implement circularity through rental or resale. Furthermore, circularity through manufacturing which would phase out hazardous chemicals.

Overall, I was thoroughly fascinated by the Fashion Revolution course, through the amount of topics covered and the quality of content. Moreover, because of its impact, I’ll be uploading another post based on one of the assignments I had to complete for the course. Until then, as Fashion Revolution states:

Be Curious. Find Out. Do Something.

Easley Magazine – 2019

Taking Inspiration from the Harris

Something I don’t write a lot about on this blog, is where I get my inspiration from to help with my course. If you didn’t know, I’m currently coming towards the end of my first year of University, studying Fashion. Due to the creative nature of the degree, I’m always aware of what could inspire me. A couple months ago, I visited the Harris in Preston, in doing so a starting point for ideas was created.

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Figure 1- ‘Beside the Brambled Ditch’ Painting 1983

After looking at numerous paintings in the museum, this one had my attention. Titled ‘Beside the Brambled Ditch’ by Ian Mckeever in 1983, I was in awe by the fluid brush strokes. Also, the module this was going to help with, is drawing based, so I knew immediately it would help with practising that free hand. Another reason this painting had my attention for so long, was because it is actually a photograph of a pond and the artist covers it with paint, to express how he felt. No matter how long I looked, I really couldn’t see the photograph. However, the painting had started the thought process for the module.

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Figure 2- 1972 Garment

Arguably a piece that I got even more inspiration from; a luxurious seventy’s dress. When I saw it, I knew it was going to play a big part in my module, but the difficulty was, there wasn’t much information on it. After contacting the Art Curator of the Museum, I finally had the backstory; the dress was bought in Speights for ¬£69 in 1972. The designer was Susan Small, apparently the retail arm of Maureen Baker, the designer of Princess Anne’s wedding dress.

From that point, I’ve developed the idea of the dress (observing colour, silhouette) and used the time period to research other 1970 dresses- that decade becoming almost a theme. Also, keeping the painting involved, that has helped with observational drawings and method of expression to inform my own prints for the 70’s themed dresses I’ve illustrated.

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Figure 3- Example of my own work. 

Overall, the above painting and garment both became a starting point for my module. Since taking inspiration from them, I’ve been able to continue to develop and inform my ideas to help towards my work.

 

 

Italy Photography

Towards the end of March, I went on a University organised trip to Italy. Each day was very different but also packed with a plethora of places to visit. I of course, took many pictures that inevitably were going to end up in a blog post- this one if you hadn’t guessed by the title.

Sunday 24th March

We arrived at Como in the early evening, so we had little time to explore. But we did manage to have our first taste of the mouth-watering ice-cream.

Monday 25th March

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Figure 1- Funicolare Como- Brunate

The morning of our first full day started with a trip up a hill. It’s actually called Funicolare Como- Brunate which sounds much better than a hill. Once at the top, it was breathtakingly beautiful and it was really surreal that that was our view.

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Figure 2- Villa Carlotta

Around lunch, we got a boat to Tremezzo to look around Villa Carlotta. It was fascinating to walk around a place that started to be built back in the 16th century.

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Figure 3-  View from Villa Carlotta

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Figure 4- Villa Carlotta Gardens

The villa sits on about 8 hectares of botanical gardens and I can’t imagine how much more beautiful it is once all of the flowers have blossomed.

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Figure 5- Bellagio

Late afternoon we arrived at our final stop of the day; Bellagio. It was a stereotypical Italian town; narrow, cobbled streets and colourful quaint buildings.

Tuesday 26th March

This day, we travelled to the Comocrea Textile Trade Show. It was so inspiring (and kind of intimidating) to see the vast amount of work from so many designers.

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Figure 6- Villa Erba

Understandably, I couldn’t take pictures inside the trade show. However, right next door was the beautiful Villa Erba. Collectively, we all decided that this would be the place we’d all very much like our wedding to be held.

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Figure 7- Cernobbio

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Figure 8- Cernobbio view

We then got to explore the rest of Cernobbio (whilst eating ice-cream) and I was beginning to wonder if its at all possible to find a place in Italy that isn’t picturesque?!

A highlight of the day was having the opportunity to go into a Como design studio. Watching people hand paint their designs was captivating and slightly therapeutic. It was also eye opening to see their work ethic and how quickly they can get their designs out there (around 2 a day).

Wednesday 27th March

We had a tour of Mantero- a textile company- which was easily the most inspiring part of the whole trip. I watched Chanel, Gucci and Louis Vuitton fabric all being printed, so to say I was in awe would be an understatement. We also got a look-in at their archive room, which looked like it easily went on for miles! I’d love to work in such a large open plan office like there’s, with so many people everyday! And I loved how the factory was attached to the offices, I’d never thought of that before but I like the concept of it all happening in one place.

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Figure 9- Duomo Cathedral

Then it was off to Milan! The top tourist spot is definitely the Duomo and was one of the first things we saw, stepping off the metro. It is architecturally beautiful and leaves you speechless with its structure.

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Figure 10- Duomo View

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Figure 11- View from the top of the Duomo

After 200-something steps we made it to the top to look over the city.

Thursday 28th March

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Figure 12- Entrance to the Fashion Houses

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Figure 13- Centre of Milan

Our last full day was all about SHOP, SHOP AND MORE SHOPPING. Being in the fashion district, we couldn’t not treat ourselves and window shop at the big brands like Louis Vuitton.

 

Figure 14 & 15- Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

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Figure 16- Milano Design Museum

We ended the day at the Milan Design Museum, where I found the whole exhibition ‘Broken Nature’ very thought provoking.

Friday 29th March

We flew home! It was such an incredibly inspiring and interesting trip, I’d love to go back and explore more of the beautiful country.

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Figure 17- Duomo at Sunset