Well Fashioned: Eco Style in the UK
Principal Investigator: Rebecca Earley
Funded by: Crafts Council and Chelsea College of Art and Design
‘Well Fashioned’, curated by Rebecca Earley aimed to review the existing state of eco fashion in the UK and was the first exhibition that surveyed this important emerging activity. It included the work of 21 UK based designers, small fashion labels who revealed what could be done within this exciting and growing discipline of eco design.
By appreciating all the various ways fashion designers can approach ‘green’ fashion, the exhibition looked closely at the materials, processes, techniques, and thinking, that goes into the creation of these collections.
There were examples of garments that use organic fabrics, and alternative ones like hemp, bamboo, wild silk and ingeo, and a consideration of whether natural fabrics are better than synthetic fabrics. There was also collections made using natural and azo free dyes, fairly traded fashion, and collections made by reinventing and seeking to preserve and promote traditional UK and ethnic making techniques.
‘Well Fashioned’ also included designers who create recycled and customised clothing, and who do so in a way that involves and connects with the consumer. The exhibition considered the impact the consumer has on the environment by buying, washing, and disposing of clothes, and the design strategies that try to lessen that effect.
Many of the designers included political and ethical messaging in their work, and run their small companies adhering to a green or social ethos.
Ultimately, the exhibition revealed an articulate and well-read generation of designers who were emerging within sustainable fashion, one which was not solely London-centric. This new breed of design pioneers can be found in Wales, Herefordshire, Brighton, and beyond, and are active in connecting with and considering the world around them. They have seen for themselves what the fashion industry looks like behind the scenes, and they have sought to make a change.
The exhibition became one of the most visited Crafts Council exhibitions on record. “Earley has brought passion and dynamism to the Crafts Council, raising a flag for craft and design examined in a profound way”. (Suzy Menkes, International Herald Tribune).