A new ‘way in’ to sustainability ideas

wild dress book cover

Compiling her knowledge into an autobiographical book exploring fashion and sustainability through the lives we lead in nature; CSF Research Professor Kate Fletcher launched her book ‘Wild Dress’ earlier this year. The book represents a new direction for the field, noted by Eco-Age as “a combination of humorous musings and deep reflections, this book makes you stop and think, and really pay attention to the interrelated relationships we have with both nature and clothing.” 

Included as a ‘Recommended book for active citizens’, in Eco-Age’s Book Club (Eco-Age Reads), they add how “there were so many wonderful parts to this book, but a resounding message was that ‘our actual, natural selves are ever present in what we wear. We can dress up all we like, but clothes reveal us as natural beings. They unearth our animal bodies, our self-willed breath, our responsibilities to the world. The question that then follows is what this means for how we dress; what will we do about it.’” 

Offering a new ‘way in’ to sustainability ideas – we caught up with Kate, on the evolution of Wild Dress – from the initial ideas to formation and how she hopes this will pave the way for new approaches to fashion and sustainability.  

The book is noted as ‘fashion and sustainability but not as you know it…’ It’s a new train of thought… do you think wild dress represents a new genre to discuss sustainability? 

I think it is a new ‘way in’ to sustainability ideas. So often we focus on issues like climate change — and they are certainly critical — but they are symptoms of the problem we face. The underlying issue is about our relationship with nature, with the world in which we live — and this is where Wild Dress is focused. 

When you first started writing the essays, did you have an idea of what Wild Dress would become within the process of writing? Especially as you wrote the book over a six-year period…  

When I started with Wild Dress I had an idea that clothes opened a door to a new type of nature relations that other folk hadn’t noticed, but I didn’t really know at the time how that would unfold. Looking back, it’s easy to see the steps in the process, but when I set out I was feeling my way, very slowly through entirely new territory.

You note within the book much of your work has “circled around nature, had dealt with it obliquely, in passing, but never as its focus”, why do you feel it emerged in the form of Wild Dress? 

It emerged in Wild Dress after I was lucky enough to spend two weeks on a sailing boat in the Western Isles of Scotland. I saw nature there as I had never seen her before. She was fierce, beautiful and interdependent and I was part of it. 

It’s an autobiographical piece which includes many stories from your life, how was it to reflect on your own experiences? 

It is exposing! It took me a long while to feel courageous enough to publish them. 

Wild Dress: Clothing & the natural world
Design and Nature: A Partnership

Alongside ‘Wild Dress’ Kate has a companion book she’s recently co-edited ‘Design and Nature: A Partnership’ – described as being, “Organised as a dialogue between nature and design, this book explores design ideas, opportunities, visions and practices through relating and uncovering experience of the natural world.” Comprising of 25 short and wide-ranging chapters. Edited by Kate Fletcher together with Louise St Pierre, Emily Carr University of Art + Design in Canada and Mathilda Tham, Linnaeus University, Sweden; the process has taken more than four years.