Habit(at) Field Day

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Last week we held our second ever Field Day at The Trampery in London Fields. We chose the theme Habit(AT) to provide the frame for our thinking around issues related to urbanisation, sustainable cities and the role that fashion can and could play.

We hold Field Days as they are a way for us to share our current projects and practices, and to engage with others from both inside and outside of the University. We were thrilled by the turnout and welcomed a good balance of attendees from across academia, industry and the student body. We were also lucky enough to have Felicity Liggins from the Met office kick off the day with a weather report – afterall, we were talking cities, climate change, and the environment, so we needed to know what to wear.  Our facilitator Deepa made sure that things kept a lively pace, as there was so much to discuss and to hear.

The Trampery London Fields was an obvious location for our day out. A shared work space and community of entrepreneurs in the heart of Hackney, an area with a rich fashion history, it is home to a community of fashion designers working from the studio space in what was once Morely Hall, a spectacular hall built by the Temperance movement at the end of the 19th century. From here we sought to explore London as a microcosm of the Anthropocene. The Anthropocene, the geological age defined by human’s being the dominant influence on climate and the environment was a concept that Dilys outlined in her thinking around the subject in her introduction to the afternoon.

That over 24000 people will have moved to live in a city somewhere in the world during the time we were holding our event, only serves to highlight the importance of cities and urbanisation in discussions and debates around our future, and we were honoured to welcome Rodrigo Bautista from Forum for the Future, who came to share with us his recent project: Informal City Dialogues. In his breakout session the discussion centered around what informal fashion economies are in London, and how people in London exchange skills and currency around clothes. He challenged us to think about which parts of the fashion industry are part of the informal city.

We also heard about the TRANSFER project, a collaboration between Alex McIntosh and Helen Storey from CSF, and Dr. Chris Jones and Amie Hope from the University of Sheffield. They introduced us to the psychology of shopping and how along with art, fashion design, and communication, it can be used to promote sustainable consumption.  Their breakout sessions activities included asking people to imagine being a 14 year old girl or a 60 year old man and why they might make certain shopping choices.

CSF’s Sandy Black then introduced her work around the new web-platform FIREUp, that connects academia and SMEs. Members of this group were offered the opportunity to sign up to the platform as well as exploring the site during the session.

The sounds of a Pied Wagtail then filled the air, calling us to reconvene to listen to Kate Fletcher’s poetic account of an expedition to Iona and provocations on nature as home, rather than a place we go to. She shared stunning photographs accompanied by arresting soundscapes that gave all of us time to sit, listen and reflect.

The following breakout sessions were more fluid and were accompanied by tea and cake. Our community of PhD students were present and ‘in conversation’, sharing their work and areas of research with guests. Camilla Palestra manned our Pop-Up Library with publications by the CSF, books written and edited by members of the CSF, and other relevant literature. Camilla also curated a film una eternita by artist Annalisa Sonzogni.

Throughout the day Katelyn Toth-Feijel mapped 100 paces of canal-side London, which she examined through a filter of the dyes available from its material make-up. Guests were invited to add to the map by mixing their vials of plant dyes and viewing the colour change that took place.

Lucy Orta then invited guests to sign up for an Antartica World Passport, an initiative to mobilise the citizens of the world to protect the Antarctic and its unique status, and to take action against global warming and for peace. Those who signed up were given a beautiful stamped passport as a reminder of the commitments they have made.

Frances Corner then summed up the day, emphasising the importance of fashion as a connecting force for good in each of our own Habitats. She also observed the power of the work being done by the Centre for Sustainable Fashion, both on its own and in partnership with others from the University and the wider world, reinforcing the positive effect of the work that has been done throughout the first 5 years of the Centre’s existence, and that will continue happening over future years.