Recap: “Local Wisdom” Sustainable Fashion Event

Posted on: February 4th, 2013 at 11:12 am by
Kate Fletcher, conducting interviews for "Local Wisdom" at Parsons the New School for Design. Photo: Lori Greenberg

Kate Fletcher, conducting interviews for “Local Wisdom” at Parsons. Photo: Lori Greenberg

A number of New Yorkers braved the frigid temperatures last week, garment bags in tow, to participate in a project called “Local Wisdom.”

Held at Parsons the New School for Design, the project investigates “The Craft of Use” by conducting interviews and photo shoots all over the world about the way we look at and value our clothing.

Our favorite sweater of the day, worn by Timo Rissanen, Assistant Professor of Fashion Design and Sustainability. Photo: Lori Greenberg

Our favorite sweater of the day, worn with Vivenne Westwood pants, on Timo Rissanen, Asst Prof. of Fashion Design and Sustainability. Photo: Lori Greenberg

Participants are asked to bring a favorite garment and/or accessory with them and discuss why it is special to them. (This reporter, who is a rabid vintage collector, had a tough time choosing one garment, but ultimately brought a vintage coat from the early 1960s, which was covered in fashion illustrations.) The hope is that these stories will inspire others to think twice about what they are consuming and wearing, including the design and production community.

A "random" participant, in a vintage 1960s coat. Photo: Ellinor Stigle

A “random” participant, in a vintage 1960s coat. Photo: Ellinor Stigle (used with permission from Local Wisdom and Ellinor Stigle).

The Local Wisdom project was started in 2009 by Dr. Kate Fletcher, a London-based author, consultant and educator who specializes in “Slow Fashion” and sustainability. The project, which has since spread across three continents, explores resourceful practices in our relationships to clothing. In the past year, the project has held seven community photo shoots at universities all over the world, including Parsons the New School for Design.

Kate Fletcher, right, admiring a garment with a story. Photo: Lori Greenberg

Kate Fletcher, right, admiring a garment with a story. Photo: Lori Greenberg

Parsons’ downtown location provided a perfect setting for the event, enabling passers-by to get a good glimpse of the photo shoots through the street level gallery windows on lower Fifth Avenue. The school was a perfect fit with Local Wisdom, as the findings from this shoot – and other stories on the website – will be utilized by students to analyze what they, as future leaders of the fashion industry, will eventually produce and put out into the world.

Photographer Ellinor Stigle in action, in the Parsons window on Fifth Avenue. Photo: Lori Greenberg

Photographer Ellinor Stigle in action, in the Parsons window on Fifth Avenue. Photo: Lori Greenberg

Fletcher has referred to the staggering statistic that every man, woman and child now buys more than 81 pounds of textiles every year, and 56 of those pounds end up in the landfill. In a world of “fast fashion” (i.e., chain stores which produce cheaply made clothing, often under unethical working situations in factories overseas), it was inspiring to hear the participants’ stories and to observe how much they connected with what they wore. Items ranged from a vintage metallic dress to a vibrant sweater boasting a knit image of the comic book character “The Phantom,” which this reporter was quite tempted to run off with. But despite playing to the “reuse” aspect of the project, it really wouldn’t have been received very well. So, we had to behave.

For more information, check out the Local Wisdom website.

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