They say millennials are the most ethically responsible generation that ever existed. From slow food to slow fashion, there's no doubt that there's a growing culture of consuming responsibly in today’s world – and textiles are playing a key role in building this momentum. Seasoned cloth lovers of any generation will already know the benefits of designing, making and buying garments for quality and longevity, but what is it exactly that’s attracting more and more people to this textile-led life? The simple answer is artistry.
How we got to such an astute appreciation for the artistry of cloth is another article in itself –for now, we’re focussing on the makers essential to fuelling this eco-friendly movement, and one such artist in particular: UK based textiles designer and weaving and embroidery specialist, Kate Whitehead. ‘My work is a protest,’ says Kate, ‘against the way textiles are consumed in western society.’ In her work, she revels in fabrics that are in a sense humble, and quiet. Kate uses only natural materials such as cotton and calico, and specialises in dyeing with indigo. Pushing against the sheen of mass-produced, fast fashion clothing, her work shines some much needed light on older, forgotten fabrics; those bits and pieces with stories hidden in between the folds, with faded dyes and tears and frays.
‘I want to go back to slower processes,’ she explains, ‘embrace tradition, salvage the discarded, and fix the broken.’ Kate’s perspective on cloth is completely in line with the slow fashion movement, which encourages slower production schedules, fair wages, lower carbon footprints and minimum waste. Author of ‘In Praise of Slowness’ Carl Honoré claims that this slow approach intervenes as a revolutionary act in today’s world, because it encourages taking time to give quality and value to the product, and contemplating the connection with the environment.
Every day we connect to the environment through cloth, and it’s makers like Kate who are surfacing it more and more. Whether it comes from the millennials, Gen X or Gen Y, the growing interest in sustainability is not only fuelled by consumer demands, but by artisans meeting them.
You can take part in a memory and meaning workshop with Kate Whitehead at the Selvedge Fair in Pendle this September 23rd. For more information and to book your place, click here.