Monday, October 24, 2016

less is now more than ever: the Anthropocene Age 2

less less less while fashion at the moment is more more more
photograph: Chloe A/W 2017

Sadly, given the majority of human beings recognise our environment is unstable  due to our impact on it (resulting in the seasonless concept of fashion) and large corporate fashion conglomerates acknowledge the volatility, instability, complexity of our world, their response to this is to simply name new designers, who, most definitely have been formed by these conditions--Demna Gvasalia's work reflects these concerns conceptually, if subliminally, Chloe's Claire Waight Keller's love of knitwear which is often seasonless given extreme weather shifts. see Sarah Mower's interview with Gvasalia: 

ecomodista's ethos includes eschewing plastic bags (and has been shockingly inundated with paper bags in the Hamptons this autumn, when she forgets to bring one).  The small nylon shopping bags that fold/stuff are a great solution, but really there are so many wonderfully designed knit bags, it's inexcusable ecomodista has not yet made one. Louet has spun wonderful linen fibers, and although heavy, it is strong and of course hemp fibers are equally tough.

Plastic bags are a major environmental issue, even causing delays at Recology, an advanced recycling operation in San Francisco which has attracted global interest in mechanised sorting much finer than occurs at consumer level (a cost that should be borne by producers of consumer goods). In 2012, San Francisco banned plastic bags at retail stores, and Moore Recycling Associates estimates there are approximately 18,000 plastic-bag drop-off sites in the United States, many of them at supermarkets. ecomodista can not conceive of a better reason to knit at least one shopping tote or a handbag that has such dual function.


Another strategy for reducing consumption of fashion, electronics, etc. is repair. To repair a knit Tasha's blog, Turn Stale Bread into French Toast is an excellent guide. see: Patagonia has offered repair days for years, when consumers of their products may return with repairs or mends. What a lovely concept. Founder of Patagonia, Yvon Chouinard has long advocated  a business model and products that have environmental safeguards, using recycled materials, producing products made to last, and repair instead of replace.
Tom van Deijnen's mission is The Visible Mending Programme which is"to highlight that the art and craftsmanship of clothes repair is particularly relevant in a world where more and more people voice their dissatisfaction with fashion’s throwaway culture. By exploring the story behind garment and repair, the Programme reinforces the relationship between the wearer and garment,  leading to people wearing their existing clothes for longer, with the beautiful darn worn as a badge of honour. By writing this blog, running darning workshops and taking repair work commissions I provide mending inspiration, skills and services to people and hopefully persuade them that shop-bought clothes deserve care and attention too, just like a precious hand-knit. see:
photograph: recycled detailleur on ecomodista's recentlyacquired 1972 Puegot
The Swedish government is introducing tax breaks on repairs to everything from bicycles to washing machines so it will no longer make sense to throw out old or broken items and buy new ones. Sweden’s ruling Social Democrat and Green party coalition has proposals before parliament  to slash the VAT (Value Added Tax) rate on repairs to bicycles, clothes and shoes from 25% to 12%. It will also submit a proposal that would allow people to claim back from income tax half of the labour cost on repairs to appliances such as fridges, ovens, dishwashers and washing machines.“We believe that this could substantially lower the cost and so make it more rational economic behaviour to repair your goods,” said Per Bolund, Sweden’s minister for financial markets and consumer affairs and one of six Green party cabinet members. see:

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

less is now more than ever: the Anthropocene Age

As the Autumn/Winter collections have been presented and ecomodista reflects on style, textiles, and the impetus for acquiring the latest fashions she evaluates her own efforts to reduce consumption personally. 

For the the first time human beings are responsible for manipulating and shaping the earth’s environment, it’s climate and geological events—the Anthropocene Age it is now designated. In fact ecomodista experienced her first earthquake in Shawnee, Kansas this summer where she awoke to what felt like an automatic massage bed convulsing under her, caused by fracking in Oklahoma, which instantly reminded her of the Simpsons episode in which Marge decamps to a motel because Homer has become a gun fanatic… However ecomodista proposes that actually the dawn of the industrial age should be the turning point rather than 1950, given the impact of using coal over the past 3 centuries as well as deforestation globally during that period.
see for an excellent description of the Anthropcene Age. 

hence ecomodista’s revised manifesto:
reduce reduce reduce
If one doesn't crochet, why not re-purpose table lace?

Designers have been tackling this issue for two decades, and it is difficult in terms of production for if not mass consumption, even limited consumption is challenging. Using textile waste is often limited however knitwear designers seem to be successful using left over yarns from other productions.

Plastic recycling

As ecomodista has always maintained secondary use clothing is a great source of stylish clothing, numerous sources both online (ebay etc.) and thrift shops are a major source, not mention trading children’s clothing among friends and relatives. Apparently though such an excess of donated clothing is suppressing textile production in countries such as Kenya although it does provide ancillary jobsin these locations. see the Guardian

Landfill, composed to a large degree of textile waste, has been creating new geological features, a trend that appears to be increasing unless more rigorous recycling is practiced. New equipment to do just this has made San Francisco a destination to study how this can be accomplished. Who has never wondered if that tiny cardboard tag should be added to the paper and cardboard recycling bin or simply thrown in the trash. Food waste is finally being tackled, with food retailers joining the effort to re-direct those oddly shaped squash that don’t conform to the normal. It’s actually amazing that the western world has so much food that decisions such as this actually result in waste. Waste disposal causes costly environmental impact and depletes valuable resources. On the On the other hand, new business models must arise to combat obsolescence; New Yorker reporter, J. B. MacKinnon analysed how the LED light bulb industry is morphing October 5, 2016.

In a sense mass consumption has shifted just as prediction by economists in the 1980’s towards services, snapchat, Facebook, Linkedin, cable, wifi, Netflix. yet there are still innumerable consumer products, not only  increasingly specific devices apparently co, and designed to be outmoded.  
Christopher Kane S/S 2016 collection used a novel reuse material--plastic cable ties in bright colours

Reducing waste (traditionally defined as any product or substance that has no further use or value, a definition that is morphing into a material that has potential value subject to reuse or re-manufacture) from packaging, food is the simplest for a consumer to control. Numerous packaging materials in a food coop or supermarket are recyclable and/or produced from post consumer materials. Bulk foods like rice, pasta, peas and beans, fruits, vegetables and nuts are easily taken home, put away in canning jars or stored in fridge, plastic bags washed and reused shopping next time. The majority of food co-ops have become consequential players in supporting local food production, from urban rooftop to kansas farmland, small farmers are finding their pursuit once again viable. The US Department of Agriculture has even expand it’s programs now funding rural health clinics.

Making one’s own clothing and knitting are extremely viable, now more than ever with vintage yarns and textiles available in thrift and even antique shops and of course innumerable sources online. Tote bags are a chic replacement for paper and plastic.

knitting a chunky tote bag could not be more appropriate

ecomodista's manifesto for the Anthropocene Age to be continued...