Overwhelmed by panic and anxiety, I took two big weeks in March to withdraw from my phone, to extract myself from the constant and redundant flux of information, in order to keep my head above water. Then, by observing things from a distance, I was able to reflect on the nature of my anxieties. I saw, hidden amongst my fears for my relatives regarding their health, of course, and that of the world surrounding me, an anxiety linked to my relation to time. What to do with all this time life has granted me? How can I move forward when all of my plans are disrupted?
I was left facing the obligation to work slowly and revisit my daily habits.
I’ve always had an interest for the relationship we have with time.
Despite the social distancing, I had the impression of being invited into people’s worlds. I found myself in the room of a fashion consultant in South Africa or in a Californian farmer’s living room: Each one of them in their daily environment, in their own personal bubble. I recognized a part of me in each of these people, suddenly making them seem closer, more human. Just like the passers-by passing by my window for a breath of fresh air, to stretch their legs, to wander.
Then came a full series of observations and discoveries guided by my walks.
What if the streets stayed carless to allow pedestrians and cyclists to move about without a care? What if people continued to turn toward local producers, artisans and small businesses to expend in a more sustainable and eco-friendly manner? What if large luxurious companies kept producing for the common good? What if we kept listening to podcasts to stay informed, reading to dream and expand our knowledge? What if we kept connecting with each other, all the time, for no particular reason? What if we never stopped taking our time?
Look at how capable we are…of thinking and living differently.
The legacy this pandemic will have left us with, if you ask me, is the access and the sharing of information, of culture. It’s following countless hours of listening to podcasts, assisting to online conferences and reading that these reflections surfaced.
Détail d'une courte pointe réalisée par une membre des India’s Siddi Quilters. Référence : Trend Tablet
The one thing any crisis will offer is a chance to start anew, to reinvent our daily perception of time.
If we’re interested in fashion under occupation, certain practices have seen the light to compensate the lack of resources and outsmart the restrictions. I’m thinking, amongst many other examples, of the 1000 piece dress, made from various recycled fabrics, or of that black line women used to draw behind their legs to imitate nylon stockings for which the material was requested to make army textile…Because human intelligence shines through this fascinating ability to adapt.
On May 20th, “Stillness”, the Li Edelkoort’s conference presenting the color and textile trends for Fall/Winter fashion 21/22 took place: A delicate presentation honouring pale, white, bleached, calm and blurred colors. In the idea of white exists that of a blank page, like the beginning of something new, something more serene, and healthier too.
Gauche : Garciabello, collection SS20, Campo
Droite : Lee Sun
I’m convinced that the time and space given to us in these past months will lead to a new era. Without knowing what it will be made of yet, I think it is time we conceive it.
There has been, in these past few weeks, an outstanding collective growth of conscience. Amongst these accountabilities, there has been this wave of support for local businesses. Whether it be regarding the food, fashion or accessory industries, this movement is, for me, essential to undertake this transition.
It is by bringing the production chain back to more humane levels that we will be able to lean toward more sustainable lifestyles.
It is also by looking at the bigger picture that we can realize how humans are behind all the small things that build up our daily lives. To buy local, is also putting the people around us to work: your front or next-door neighbour, maybe even the one on the corner of the street.
Many fashion designers through their most recent collections have celebrated the importance of the human hands. Chanel, in their 2016/2017 fall/winter collection, or Dolce & Gabana showcasing shoemakers, seamstresses and knitters in videos on the back screen of the 2020 Fall fashion show presented at the Milan Fashion week in February 2020.
Celebrating the importance of the hands and human work is also a way to counter-weigh the growing presence of immaterial and artificial intelligence in our lives.
There is, within fabric, and even more so within knits, the idea of a bond. The thread that links the loops together is the same one that links us all together, the one that allows us to build “tightly knit” bonds as we say. In these bonds lies the idea of heritage transmission: these repetitive acts across time that will last through many generations.
Bridget Harvey, Yellow Cardigan (2015 onwards)
To speak of sustainability, is to gather all of these concepts under one roof.
It’s to have respect for the planets limits and to offer the right tools to future generations so they can keep the momentum: A holistic approach that considers every link of the chain.
It’s also a question of choice. To bring about a green transition, is to choose to reduce our own consumption, to choose the origin of the products we buy, to educate ourselves.
It is a powerful tool of re-appropriation.
The fight for climate justice doesn't stand very far from the anti-racist, women's or LGBT+’s rights movements. They share, at their core, aspirations of equality and the hope for global recognition that within every human being lies the right to live freely, no matter their gender or color. It's all about respecting and honoring life.
"One must be a fool, or extremely dishonest, to find a form of oppression unbearable, and another poetic." - Virginie Despentes, King Kong theorie
We could also choose to resign ourselves. To choose to let things go back to the way they were, for things to stay the same. We can choose to stay frozen in time, to stop moving forward, but I don’t think time itself would give us that opportunity. Amongst all of the options, let’s choose the one that gives us hope for a brighter future.
Of all the conferences and talks, I chose to share here what struck me most of “Earth Matters: new sustainable textiles & materials webinar”, animated by Philip Fimmano for Trend Union.
The conference revolved around 4 main topics: the origins, the reinvention and re-appropriation of new materials, the harvest of new ingredients and the sustainable production. By sustainable production, we also refer to the transmission and perpetuation of knowledge.
The beauty of the presented projects gave me some hope. Here is my way of manifesting this hope.
Poetry // Aliki Van Der Kruijs, Made by rain
Based in the Netherlands, Aliki Van Der Kruijs has developed a special printing technique capable of retaining the traces of raindrops on fabric. A poetic project that looks at the impact of the weather on our daily lives.
Search for new materials // Tamara Orjola
Tamara Orjola is interested in the possibilities that pine needles can offer as an alternative solution for textiles, composite materials or paper.
Rediscovery // Nina Gautier, Urtica lab
Through her project, Nina Gautier offers a wide range of products that can be developed from nettle: food, medicine, textiles and colour. A hollistic approach that brings to the forefront a knowledge of plants that have fallen into oblivion.
Heritage // The London Cloth Company
The London Cloth Company is the story of Daniel Harris who, in 2011, decides to repair ancestral looms (dating from 1870) to revive an industry whose know-how has been lost over time.
Photographie : Liz Seabrook