Exploring City Lives, Lost and Found: A Fashion Perspective.

The Centre for Sustainable Fashion (CSF) held their second Field Day last week at The Trampery in Hackney. The title for this Field Day was Habit(at). Exploring City Lives, Lost and Found: A Fashion Perspective. The event was an opportunity for CSF to share some of their current projects and practices with others and to further develop work that is of value to society through research, education and practice.

The field day was centered on looking at some of the issues around sustainability, fashion and urbansiation within a framework of Habitat or Habitats. For most people, though not all, their Habitat is London, which is why the setting of the event across the road from our Mare Street campus at The Trampery in Hackney was a fitting location for this field day. It was also an excellent reminder to all of just how much things change in London – Hackney was once one of the city’s richest, greenest and most pleasant boroughs, yet over time changes in transportation; working opportunities and conditions; and housing have altered it, though its links to fashion production and fashion education remain evident in the area.

The Centre’s director Dilys Williams introduced the audience to ideas of how fashion can and could help us to connect and adapt in a world where most of us will live in cities. It is staggering to think that by the end of the 21st century 80% of the world’s population will live in a city and the cities we live in will continue to grow and change. Dilys put to the audience to consider the anthropocene – the geological age we are now living in and an age that, for the first time, as been named after human activity. The anthropocene is defined as the period during which human activity has been the dominant influence on climate and the environment. It is London that is our habitat in the anthropocene and this framework was an excellent starting point for discussions that ranged from thinking about the fashion choices that a thirteen year old boy might make and why, to how academia can help develop small fashion businesses. The question that was raised on the day was sustainable cities: what role can fashion play? It was a question that was referenced frequently throughout the day, particularly after the various perspectives that were being introduced throughout the afternoon.

The work being showcased by CSF members was curated alongside the work being done by the Met Office and Forum for the Future. The afternoon kicked off with an introduction to the weather, London and climate change from The Met Office’s Felicity Liggins; and included Rodrigo Bautista from Forum for the Future, presenting his work Informal Cities Dialogues. Dr. Christopher Jones and Amie Hope from the University of Sheffield, who are working on a project called TRANSFER alongside Professor Helen Storey and Alex McIntosh both of the Centre, were also collaborators present for the day. Sandy Black presented her project FIREUp, which connects academic research and small businesses and those present for that breakout session then had the opportunity to trial the new web platform that has been developed to connect the two areas. There was also the opportunity for our PhD students to discuss their work with the attendees, a valuable experience for them to reach out to the wider fashion community – and a very popular part of the afternoon.

Dr. Kate Fletcher presented some thought provoking ideas about the relationship between nature as ‘home’ versus ‘a place to visit’, whilst displaying stunning images and haunting sounds from her recent expedition to Iona, Scotland. This part of the afternoon, offered guests time for reflection and quiet, and was vital to the balance of the day. Before leaving guests were invited by Lucy Orta to sign up to the Antarctica World passport, an initiative to mobilize citizens of the world to protect the Antarctic and in return they were given a stamped passport as a reminder to the commitments involved in the process.