Thursday, November 13, 2014

Summary of a seminar about re-designing clothes

Posted by Amanda Villaruel | | |
Why do people have to buy clothes with poor quality? And why do we have to constantly re-invent our wardrobes with something completely new?

These were some of the questions asked by the lecturers at the Norwegian Center of Design and Architecture in Oslo.
Seminar about re-design of clothes in Oslo
At the seminar about re-design of clothes in Oslo

The opening lecturer, Kari Anne Pedersen, from the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History ("Folkesmuseet") jump-started the seminar with a picture of a Housewife-guide from the late 1800s and gave us an introduction to what people used to do in the old days, when they had to re-design their clothes because of the weak economy.

Back in the days, re-designing was a survival skill, either by alternating their existing clothes or adding patches.

Katarina Gronmyr from Norway's largest thrift store - Fretex (Redesign), was the second lecturer. She told us about the challenges of making re-designed clothes as commercial products - products that people want to buy. Not everybody thinks that worn clothes are cool, she said with humor.

One of the reasons to why the collection of re-designed clothes is limited in the fashion industry, is because the process is pretty work-intensive. Before starting to make a product you need to check it for stains and extra wear, and work with the good parts.

As an example, she brought up how they re-design old leather jackets to leather covers used for notebooks. First of all, you need to do a large amount of cutting, and flatten the leather so you can work with it. Then the leather parts need to be glued together, pressed and put together with rivets.

And of course, add the note book as the final step. It's sounds like a piece of cake, but in fact it's not.

And since they're a thrift store, they can't price the item according to the amount of work that was done to make it. The price has to stay low because that's what people expect in a thrift store.

Read: 20 useful clothes care tips for the conscious fashionista.

The last lecturer, Anne Cecilie Rinde, was from The Designer Collective ("Designerkollektivet").

Her question was: Do we need to re-define re-design?

Rather than re-inventing entirely new pieces of clothing, we should use what's already good and work on that. Quality, rather than quantity,
Re-design: why change something good?

The collective consists of 26 designers who are collaborating to become more visible in the clothing industry. According to them, they're the counterweight to the fast fashion, the mass production of clothes in today's fashion industry and the escalating dominance of the chain stores.

Everything they do is small-scale and specially designed, and of course, their clothes are ethical and sustainable. Their philosophy is that a piece of clothing should last. 

She mentioned one of the re-designers in the collective, who mainly works with re-designing old shirts (Linda Sofia). Another one makes clothes out of ancient fabrics, everything from curtains to old clothes (M.A Garderobe).

Read: Introduction to Just Fashion - that works towards sustainability and high-quality clothes.

Some good points from the seminar:

  1. People should invest their money in quality clothes. If you buy items with quality, you automatically want to take more care of it. You take care of it, then it will last longer. You wouldn't just throw your leather bag on the floor like you would with an old backpack, now would you? ;-)

  2. Nothing disappears in the environment! When a piece of clothing, a chair or whatever is produced, it will never disappear. You can throw them away, but they're still there - in the environment. You can burn them, but the ashes will still be there. 

  3. You have a hole in your sweater? Fix it! Grab the sewing machine or use a patch!

  4. To make people understand what quality is, we need to understand the work that has been done to make the product. Quality clothes are craft-work. A designer has used weeks, if not months, to put together the clothes. And every detail has been done by hand. 

You should also read: 
The practical guide to ethical shopping.

The pros and cons of a minimalist wardrobe.

Have your say about what you just read :)

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