Revealing historic traditions of craftsmanship in the context of sustainable fashion

GWILT, Alison (2011). Revealing historic traditions of craftsmanship in the context of sustainable fashion. In: EBEL, Sylvie and ASSOULY, Olivier, (eds.) Proceedings of the 13th annual conference for the international Foundation of Fashion Technology Institutes (IFFTI) Fashion and Luxury: Between Heritage & Innovation. France, Institut Francais de la Mode, 19-24.

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Sustainability in fashion continues to be viewed as a fringe activity, both within the industry and the high street, perhaps due to a perception that creating or using sustainable fashion demands a radical change in process or behaviour. While it seems that it is the fashion designer who carries the responsibility for solving the problem, little accountability is placed upon the wearer (other than to consume less). Moreover,the misconception that engaging with sustainability is difficult is further confused by the use of specialist terminology, which acts as a barrier to accessibility. This paper intends to explore the proposition that both the fashion designer and the wearer should be equally engaged in the lifecycle of a garment and that examples of inspired techniques and processes can be located within the historic traditions of craftsmanship in the luxury sector. Fashion designers who are unfamiliar with the principles of sustainable design often consider it as an after thought to design practice, relying upon computerised tools to reduce the negative environmental impact associated with the production and use of a garment (Black, Eckert and Eskandarypur, 2009). However this solution-focused approach does not challenge or encourage designers to seek alternative strategies for designing and making clothes. Furthermore, few designers consider a lifecycle approach to design, and yet there is great scope for integrating sustainable strategies in fashion design practice where the engagement of the wearer becomes critical. While the fashion designer needs to be empowered to behave and think sustainably, the wearer also needs to become an active participant in the use phase of a garment’s lifecycle. Within the luxury sector the creation of a couture garment provides the wearer with an experience and a means of engaging in the world on both a rational and emotional level. Through the lens of ‘emotionally durable design’ (Chapman, 2005) the lifecycle of a garment relies upon developing a relationship between the garment and the wearer, and historical case studies can be drawn from couture that demonstrate such a relationship can exist. Moreover, by revisiting the historic techniques and processes of the luxury sector that are relative to sustainability, this paper intends to reveal and recontextualise the notion of traditional craftsmanship within contemporary sustainable thinking.

Item Type: Book Section
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Cultural Communication and Computing Research Institute > Art and Design Research Centre
Page Range: 19-24
Depositing User: Alison Gwilt
Date Deposited: 21 Mar 2013 15:45
Last Modified: 18 Mar 2021 19:45

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