TRAID Education returned to the Victoria and Albert Museum to teach students about the benefits of ethical fashion, and to offer an insight into a different education and career pathway for their annual Creative Quarter Day.
Alongside a day of workshops we were invited to give a talk in the Lecture Theatre to a jam-packed audience of teachers and students. Simply seeing so much interest in the topic of sustainability in the fashion industry and to hear the stories behind our clothes is incredibly energising and hopeful.
What if, one day, we woke up and the clothes in our wardrobes, stuffed into our chest of drawers, strewn across our bedroom floors, or wherever we kept them, was all we could ever have? Forever. One student responded to this question by declaring ‘it would be like death’. An extreme reaction? In my opinion, yes. But then I grew up pre- ‘fast fashion’ boom and, although as an adult I did fall prey to buying sale items because one day they may fit, (hopeful – yes, deluded – yes), as a fashion student I preferred exploring vintage and charity shops to meet my needs. On the occasion I did venture into high street shops it was often with friends and I would always convince myself that I could make it better myself and to my own personal taste. If I never did probably highlighted the speed at which my tastes were changing and evolving as I tried to discover my own sense of identity growing up. But then when I was a fashion student sustainability wasn’t a ‘thing’, it was the idea of clothes being an extension of our personality that empowered my love for fashion, a sort of visual anthropology that drove my ambition to work in the world of secondhand. Because for me, secondhand is romantic and the stories embedded in our clothes cannot be mass produced.
Throughout the day at the V&A the students that attended our workshops explored ways to creatively re-purpose and re-style the traditional men’s cotton shirt with our education team, whilst discussing why being resourceful, as citizens and as future fashion makers is important to safeguard our environment and valuable limited resources. Swapping and sharing, mending and repairing were all ideas thrown around to meet our needs without resorting to conventional consumption.
Looking at the students work, (although a sea of baby blue which seems to be the colour of choice for men’s shirts), I have no fear that they all will go on to have successful careers within the fashion industry, with a sensitivity to using our existing resources, rather than new. Hopefully they’ll continue to think creatively about textile waste and consider future careers in the world of ethical fashion.