New Ideas and old ideas

Dear Stranger,

I've been thinking a lot recently on how to talk about this collection. I'm starting to wonder if the old way of thinking about it is accurate? If that is still what I'm really doing...  This project used to be completely focused on sustainability, in my original proposal I talked about zero-waste cutting and organic dyeing, really the quintessential things you think about when you think about sustainable fashion.  So why did I change?  I started to think that whilst there is great potential for zero-waste cutting in fashion and if I had perhaps a year and the help of Holly McQuillan her self I could possibly achieve a commercial product that was zero waste. When it comes to fashion though you learn very quickly that you've got to work in the time frames otherwise, no matter how inspired the idea it will never work. So you have to make things that can be done in the time frame you have.

In my last few post I have been going back and looking back at what I was talking about before. Now I think its time to go forward and look at what I'm talking about now, and why.  Right now I am thinking about creating clothing that wraps around the body and can be layered on top of each other so that you can not only wear the same clothing in multiple situations but that it can also stay with you longer as you grow and change throughout you life. That essentially my take on sustainability at the moment, creating clothing from fabrics that doesn't harm the environment that is made to function in a persons wardrobe for a long period of time.  

The image below is the collection line up I was working with a few weeks ago, it has changed a few times since then, you can see back then I wanted to use soft colors inspired by nature that could be worn with lots of different colors and patterns.  The collection was going to be made out of suiting so would be appropriate as office attire. I've changed this a bit too (I'll talk more about this in the ext post). As you can see the process is really about adopting and changing as things around you shift and change. My problem however is that I find it hard to have faith in my own vision and that can cloud the ways other people think about the project. 

As always there is lots more to say but I'll finish here for now and talk again later

Love always



initial line up.jpg

Clothes Talk

Dear Stranger,

In the last post, I mentioned that a key question for my initial research was about how people express themselves through clothing. I though in this post I would talk more about what that means and how it happens.  There is a lot of theorists on the subject and a lot of different ideas about the function of clothing in society or to individuals, but I'll try and keep this a concise as possible. 

To put it simply fashion is a way in which we can express who we are in a social setting, it is also a way for us to express how our identity might be changing. The obvious thing to point out here would be that clothing communicates in a series of codes, so in order to understand what is being said, you must understand the codes. These clothing codes are culturally created, you understand what they mean because you are surrounded by the culture they come from. This means you could know what someone is trying to say with their clothing without being fully able to articulate what that is. So that means the answer to the question, how do people express themselves through their clothing is they just do. Being part of the culture and social situation means you absorb the coded and meaning formed in clothing and you use them, but more importantly, you understand when others use them. 

Which means if you think you just don't know whats in fashion, you probably do, you just don't know how to describe it. Which I guess is good news if you happened to care about being in fashion. 

So how is all of this information relevant to my project? Well, it influenced one of the key ideas of the collection 'unity through wearability' which means I wanted to create wearable clothing that can be layered on top of each other. This will hopefully that the clothing becomes functional in each person's wardrobe, so they can wear it longer for more occasions

I've included some of the initial sketches that I started with to design the collection, This is a collage of some of the other drawings I've done all put on one page. As yo can see I really liked the idea of hoods in the early part of the process...

I guess that's all for now

lots of love


initial inspiration.jpg

The Global fashion Citizen

Dear Stranger,

The big question for my collection was this 

How do we use fashion to enable people to express themselves as global citizens?

This question I think was described on particularly memorable occasion (which I won't share on the internet) as lofty and perhaps overly ambitious. Which as it turned out may have been a good point, as the question is very hard to get a handle on. Asking it generates far more questions than answers...

"what does it mean to be a global citizen?"

"what roles does fashion have in global citizenship?"

"Do people need enabling, in order to express themselves as global citizens?"

I did over the course of my research come up with some pretty good answers to these questions. As well as some new ideas on the subject of sustainable living, or perhaps if we are honest, a new twist on old ideas, maybe. Better packaging for the same concept, if you will. 

So then what are some of the answers to these questions?

Well "What does it mean to be a global citizen?" can be answered in two parts, first,  it means engaging with the world in an inclusive, compassionate way and second, it is the need for sustainability. So what does 'inclusive compassionate engagement look like? Well, in a word, kindness. That sentence "the need for inclusive, compassionate engagement" haunted my work, it made it twisted and complex and hard to get meaningful information from. If you, dear stranger, were writing it I am sure that you would have done the logical thing and dropped all talk of love and kindness, and restricted your work to the strict limits of academic understanding, and you would have done far better than me.  The problem was that I could not drop that sentence, because it was the reason I started.  It was the idea behind the marble sculptures in the hall of remembrance. In short, it was what I really wanted to say. 

If I'm honest, I would tell you that I did not want to just say it, I wanted to scream it! I wanted to yell at strangers in the street, "why can't you like each other!! Why can't you try!" However, I didn't do that, because even if I was right screaming at people rarely proofs to be a solution for anything.  So then what of sustainability? How does that add to being a global citizen? The answer to that, lucky, is very simple. The earth is dying, not in some post-apocalyptic future way but in a 'we may in the future not have a place to live' way. So what we owe each other as people on this earth is to ensure in what ways we can we try and find a solution that could save the planet. 

So that brings us to the second question, what does fashion have to do with any of this? Well, I'm sure you've heard it said too "fashion is the second biggest pollutant on earth after petroleum", "the average person only wears a garment six times before they throw it out". These are shocking facts, though, I can't find the study they come from and neither can anyone else it seems. These facts themselves are probably not true, or to make them true you'd have to add a lot of caveats (who's the average person?/ where do they live? / whats included in 'the fashion industry'?). Though don't let that fool you into thinking that the problem isn't bad or it's not real, it is. The fashion industry, in as broad or as narrow a way, as you would like to define does contribute to pollution at almost every stage of the production cycle. This the obviously would need to be addressed, the question is how? The answer to that question is a big problem, because there are more possible solutions to real ones, and everyone has an opinion on what works and how effectively. Sustainability is like a high school clique, everybody is just dying to find the fault in what you're doing. 

So with that, all said there's just one question left, "do people need help to express themselves as global citizens?" The answer to that is possibly the most complex of all... So maybe I'll write a different post answering it. 

That means goodbye for now

lots of love


Unfortunate beginings

Dear Stranger,

I've been working on this collection for a while now, since about early February of this year. Its now August so the project has taken on a few different forms since then, so I thought I would give you an over view of the journey. 

Its a bit complicated to tell you the truth, because initially I wanted to do a project looking at the women in my family and their stories, but I felt at the time that maybe this wasn't big enough and maybe there was just too many things to not say.  So I started to think about what I really wanted to say. Which is a quick way to get yourself in trouble. 

I had recently gotten back from a trip I took to South Africa with my family, to see my Grandmother for her 80th birthday. South Africa, like so many places have a troubled history, which it is still trying to come to terms with. The trip was eye opening in many ways, there was so many things to say, both good and bad and I was struggling to comprehend them all. 

In Pretoria, a town about an hours drive away from Johannesburg there is monument to the Voortrekkers. The name given to the Dutch colonists of South Africa, who I am descended from. I cannot however trace my family back to these original group of nine expedition parties who originally left the Cape Colony and attempted expansion eastwards. The monument stands on  top of a hill and in the center of the granite building there is a cenotaph. On the floor above is the hall of heroes, which has a large hole in the center of it, from which the cenotaph is visible. On the 16th of December every year at 12 O'clock a ray light shines in through the dome at the top of the building, through the hall of heroes and onto the cenotaph. It represents Gods blessing on the Voortrekkers. 

The monument which was built in the 1930's, is typical of the period a large rectangular structure that has a large set of stairs leading up to a women surrounded by her children who guards the entrance to the hall of heroes. Which is an empty room except for the large hole in the middle and the granite carved murals on the wall, depicting the memorable events of the great migration. These marble murals proved to be a subject of deep conflict for me. The events they depicted and the people in them where real. These things did happen. However, it was obvious to me, maybe because I have the luxury of not really belonging anywhere, to see that the story was more complicated than the mural implied. That perhaps their great heroes were not fearlessly leading, that the attacks endured bravely where not unprovoked. The thing I have found in my meager 22 years, is that troubled histories are troubled because we are not all telling the same story, or perhaps we don't all even know the same story. 

At the start off this project I kept thinking about walking up those steps into the hall of heroes. I kept thinking about how easy it was to tell this narrative and how surreal it felt to see this narrative carved in stone, and to know it wasn't true, but it was true. These things did happen, but that wasn't all that happens. 

This project started of with me trying to comprehend that moment, but of course design is never linear and the turns I took got me to a very different place. But that's a whole different story



What does it mean for something to be organic?

Dear Stranger,

The conversation about sustainability in fashion has been going on for some time now and the wealth of information out there is sometimes overwhelming. We are told that we should by product that are sustainable and organic, and this got me thinking, what does it mean for clothing to be organic, and why is this important when we talk about sustainability?

At it's most simple definition for something to be organic it must be biodegradable. That is to say, it must be able to breakdown into increasingly smaller compounds until eventually those compounds breaks down into carbon dioxide, water and oxygen.  This process happens when an item (say and organic cotton T-shirt for example) is left in the elements, first bacteria  will start to grow on it as the fibers breakdown, then the fungi will start to grow living of the bacteria and the fibers. This can be simply described as rot. So to summaries for something to be organic means that it can rot.  

So then the question must be which materials can rot? Well, any animal, plant or mineral can breakdown over time. though the length of this process will depend on the amount of processing an item has gone through. The live span of an apple is much shorter than a wooden chair though given enough time both will breakdown. products created in labs cant breakdown because they don't exist in nature so bacteria and fungi cant break them down. In a future post I will talk more about manufactured fibers but for now it is enough to say generally speaking these fibers cannot be broken down. 

This definition of organic you may have noticed leaves out a very big part of the conversation about organic and sustainable clothing and that is the one around GMO (genetically modified organisms) seeds and pesticides. I will come back and talk about this in future too. 

So then with all this information brings us back to the beginning, why does it matter that our clothing is organic?  Well very simply its because whilst it will take a long time our cloths will breakdown, which means they will not be taking up space in rubbish dumps forever.  However the Pulse report of 2017 found that the magnitude of impact on the environment for end of use waste was very high. which means that clothing simply being organic is not enough we must also up cycle or recycle clothing in order to try and redress the balance on the environment. 

I imagine this post has raised more questions than answers and I hope to answer those questions in future posts. 

Till next time, 


My information: