This project seeks to explore ways to educate the consumer about the sustainability, craftsmanship, heritage and value of traditional fashion and textile products, using a variety of mediums such as film and immersive technologies.
This work is stimulated by the fact that fashion design represents an aspect of the Creative Industries that touches the lives of many on a daily basis. Not only does clothing provide protection and comfort, it is used increasingly to express creativity, convey identity and can have a psychological effect on the wearer influencing their perceptions of self-worth.
The current generation of fashion wearers are now far removed from how their clothing is produced, often with little awareness of, or genuine interest in the sources of the materials and the manufacturing processes that generate them. ‘Fast’ and effectively ‘disposable’ fashion has seen clothing reduced to transient items, worn for a short period of time, often once and then discarded.
Fast fashion has pushed prices downwards, moving textile and clothing production to low cost labour countries and decimating the traditional Scottish quality textile economy. The surviving Scottish textile companies find it difficult to attract young people to work with them, leading to a chronic skills shortage within the industry. Fast fashion also drives consumer demand for newness, uses resources that are finite and potentially damaging to the environment, creating excessive and unnecessary landfill waste. In 2018, the pressure to move towards a more sustainable fashion and textile industry has grown.
Traditional methods of textile and clothing manufacture, using natural renewable sources that are inherently long-lasting offer a ‘slow’ fashion alternative. China and the UK both have long histories and cultural traditions related to textiles and clothing. Scotland’s tradition of tweed and tartan, cashmere and woollens continues to survive today, largely through SMEs producing luxury products. A parallel can be drawn with China’s rich history of cultivating and producing beautiful silk products such as the traditional dresses: Qi Pao, Han Fu and Song Jin, and to their position as one of the world’s largest textile and clothing producers.
Fashion has embraced computer technology, with online sales continuing to grow and fashion film increasingly being used to market creative designs. This presents an opportunity to redress the balance by using technology to educate and shape an alternative and sustainable future for the fashion design of traditional textiles.