If you need to prove to yourself how anthropocentric we humans are, catch a peak hour train in Melbourne. OK, the trains are poorly designed, discouraging people from moving down the aisles because all the handles are on the backs of the seats and therefore below your centre of gravity or obscured by wild hairdos and people with long torsos and wide backs, BUT, when a train has been cancelled, the subsequent ones are running late and everyone is late for work, you'd think that in all selflessness, people would help each other out. You'd think they'd share handles, take back packs off their shoulders, stop leaning on poles and doorways so that others can hang on as the train swings violently across tracks. You'd think people would step out of doorways to let everyone off at the stations instead of complaining about how the trains are always late. Sadly, most of the time what I experience is quite the opposite. As I stand jammed in a doorway unable to move in, out or hold on, others further down the carriage enjoy the luxury of space to snog their partner or play on their iPads. Colossal backpacks maim short women too polite to say anything, toes are crushed as the unsecured crowd lurches from side to side and no one will give up their precious space to let anyone else get off at a station. If strangers standing face-to-face in a peak hour cattle train cannot work together for the greater good, I have grave reservations that we will ever effectively tackle climate change and develop a sustainable way of living in this world. (Ooo, this is my first blog rant!)
Source: "Ideas anyone? Anyone?" by Katie Cincotta The Sunday Age June 19, 2011 excerpt: ''Crowdsourcing is a really good model for sustainable and ethical design. By using the web for market research and allowing people to vote on designs you can avoid having to make a whole lot of stuff that just sits in shops,'' she says. San Franciscan fashion designer Derek Lam posted designs from his 2011 spring/summer collection on eBay for people to vote on, then produced the five most popular pieces. After bravely withdrawing her label from six Myer stores and more than 50 boutiques, Sydney-based designer Nina Maya did the same on Facebook with a Shape the Range voting page. Maya says the experiment has paid off, with the 10 most popular dresses to go on sale online in July for about $260 each, 30 per cent less than the retail price tag. She feels crowdsourcing has become a game-changer for the fashion industry because consumers now feel they can influence what is being made. ''It's listening to what the buyers want, and interestingly, what people wanted was quite different to what the shop owners ordered,'' Maya says. She says the next step is co-creation - taking suggestions from fans of her brand - but she's determined not to compromise her original inspiration. ''As a designer, you want to keep the essence coming from the design source, but there's room for collaboration on maybe fabric choices or hem lengths.'' Crowdsourcing is not only about reaching out into the world for ideas; many corporations are using it to uncover untapped talent within their own workforces. Facebook.com/ninamayafashion
My website has grown to the stage now that it needs greater explanation: some context, some background, a voice over if you will. The project is more than just a PhD...it's the culmination of a life time of career decisions that grew out of a hobby that refused to be ignored. I first attempted to make a garment from scratch at the age of about 10. I drew a pattern based on a t-shirt I owned and sewed it up and proudly tried it on…only to cry with frustration when it wouldn’t go over my head. Not knowing any better, I’d made it from an off-cut of woven curtain fabric, not jersey. Rather than putting me off fashion for life, that experience encouraged me to experiment more, and making clothes became my hobby throughout my youth, especially while I studied Art History and Curatorship at ANU in Canberra. Not long after getting that degree, I moved to Melbourne where a friend and I set up a small fashion label selling clothes and accessories to a few local shops. It didn't earn much but it didn't do badly either, and by 2000, I was enrolled in another undergraduate degree, this time a BA Fashion at RMIT. After that I worked in the industry for a few years under a label I co-owned, 'Spook' and for other local independent labels until the bit of sessional teaching I had picked up along the way suddenly became full time. I am now a lecturer at RMIT Uni where I am 18 months into a PhD in Fashion by project. One of our look book shots for Summer 2004.
It's official, my post-grad research project has been upgraded from MA to a PhD. The new framework gives me greater scope for the research and a longer timeline (especially since I am part time). Very happy. Also, my first conference paper is being published. In February this year the The Fifth International Conference on Design Principles and Practices was held in Rome. I was unable to attend but submitted a virtual paper ‘Made to keep: product longevity through participatory design in fashion’ It was a discussion of the potential for participatory design strategies to prolong the life of a garment and in doing so facilitate sustainable behavioural change in fashion consumers. It will be nice to see my name in print. It will be published in Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal
This website is full of truly amazing stuff. You need to see it really, no point me telling you about it, just click!
A colleague just pointed out one of Otto Von Busch's projects to me: Designers Against Overlocking! To quote him: '...we, as designers, need to produce objects that encourage repair. Products which are made to have a second life – and a third. These are objects that can be opened and which contain leads on how their inner life works and are not closed black boxes. This means we need to design products with more screws and no glue. We need to make objects made for engagement; user improvements, fixes and updates. We need to let go, allow products to get a life of their own, far beyond the designer’s sanctified intentions. This is when we, together with the consumers, finally can take on sustainability in a serious manner. In the words of the Repair manifesto: “Don’t ditch it, stitch it! Don’t end it, mend it!” So true! The only reason I could alter my lovely floral dress to fit me was because the wide seams were not overlocked. He then mentions Kate Fletcher's current project: Local Wisdom in which repair and remaking are considered in the context of how clothing is used: About the project: "Sustainability can emerge from a wealth of simple interactions. In fashion it has potential to flow not only from the design and production of clothes, but also from the choices all of us make, as users, on a daily basis: how we select, wear, care for and connect with our garments. As such, opportunities to transform the sustainability potential of clothes are widely distributed throughout the population and not just reserved for designers, production managers or the fashion cognoscenti. They happen with each new improvisation, way of wearing and with every service of needle and thread in homes in far-flung corners of every nation; often far away from catwalks or business agendas. "