Slow Fashion and the Maker Movement

The University of Fashion was founded on the principles of Slow Fashion, and while recently exhibiting at the American Libraries Association conference in Las Vegas, U of F founder Francesca Sterlacci learned just how aligned the University of Fashion’s founding philosophy is with the growing Maker Movement in public libraries across the U.S.

The Art and Craft of Fashion Design

The Art and Craft of Fashion Design

First, what is Slow Fashion and how does the University of Fashion support this movement?

Slow Fashion is a direct response to Fast Fashion – the practice of taking current looks from the runway and producing them quickly and en masse for immediate consumption. Megabrands like H&M and Zara are considered fast fashion retailers.  Originated in the 80s, fast fashion is taking its toll on the environment, natural resources and the safety and health of laborers working long hours in substandard conditions for low wages.  Slow Fashion is a growing trend which encourages designers and consumers to create and purchase with intention, thought and purpose. Maureen Dickson, Carlotta Cataldi and Crystal Grover explore ten facets of the initiative in The Slow Fashion Movement - four of which illustrate the University of Fashion’s stance on learning the art and craft of fashion design.

1.  Seeing the Big Picture - Dickson, Cataldi and Grover posit, “Slow Fashion producers recognise that they are all interconnected to the larger environmental and social system and make decisions accordingly.”  At the U of F,  we strive to teach our students all aspects of fashion design from initial sketching and draping to couture quality finishing techniques. Our goal is to instill an appreciation for each step of the design process and an overall respect for the art and craft of fashion design as well as the designers who create one of a kind garments.

2.  Maintaining Quality and Beauty - By teaching our students the time tested skills they need to make their design visions become reality, we contribute to the Slow Fashion belief that “encouraging classic design over passing trends will contribute to the longevity of garments.”  We offer instruction using classic construction and detailing in order to provide a timeless education for our students.

3.  Resourcefulness -  The University of Fashion encourages our designers to “focus on using local materials and resources when possible and try to support the development of local businesses and skills.”

4.  Practicing Consciousness – As champions of all things Eco Fashion, the University of Fashion guides our students to use materials thoughtfully and to recycle, or in our opinion upcycle, in effect “acknowledging our connection to others and the environment, and the willingness to act responsibly.”

Teaching Fashion Design Skills Digitally

Teaching Fashion Design Skills Digitally

And next, how does the University of Fashion’s mission of preserving the art and craft of fashion design align with the Maker Movement?

According to the Institute of Museum and Library Services, “Makerspaces are part of a growing movement of hands- on, mentor-led learning environments to make and remake the physical and digital worlds. They foster experimentation, invention, creation, and exploration through design thinking and project-based learning.”  At the U of F, it is our mission to deliver fashion design education to our students in the physical world through the technology of the digital world.   At the recent inaugural Maker Faire at the White House on June 18, 2014, President Obama welcomed a #NationOfMakers declaring, ”This event celebrates every maker — from students learning STEM skills (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), to entrepreneurs launching new businesses to innovators powering the renaissance in American manufacturing. I am calling on people across the country to join us in sparking creativity and encouraging invention in their communities.” We are proud to be leading the charge in quality online fashion design education and encouraging our students (in the words of President Obama), “to be makers of things, not just consumers of things.”  Just as the Homebrew Computer Club met in a Silicon Valley garage and inspired Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs to form Apple, our goal is to be the catalyst to inspire a new fashion industry. We look forward to bringing the U of F’s video library to Makerspaces across the U.S.

Bring the University of Fashion to a Makerspace Near You

Bring the University of Fashion to a Makerspace Near You

Finally, how can you become involved?

As part of our dedication to Slow Fashion and our investment in  Makerspaces, the University of Fashion is offering a FREE 6-month trial to all public libraries. Interested in joining the movement and bringing the University of Fashion’s online video library to a library near you?  Learn more about the University of Fashion and what is included in a free trial here.

 

 

 

 

 

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Kara Laricks is a regular contributor to the University of Fashion. She’s also a New York based women's wear and accessories designer. As the first winner of NBC's Fashion Star, Kara has designed collections for H&M, Macy's and Saks Fifth Avenue. Her masculine meets feminine line, Kara Laricks, debuted at New York Fashion Week in 2012 and her S/S 2013 collection sold exclusively at Saks Fifth Avenue. Kara's designs have been featured on the Today Show and HBO's True Blood as well as covered in Women's Wear Daily and on Style.com. Kara holds Master's degrees in both Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Kansas and in Fashion Design from the Academy of Art in San Francisco. An educator turned designer, Kara is dedicated to supporting emerging designers and inspiring others to follow where dreams lead.

  • http://stitchingrules.com/ Debra Verrall

    I think a lot of people still don’t “get” what slow fashion actually means. This line sums it up beautifully – “a growing trend which encourages designers and consumers to create and purchase with intention, thought and purpose. ” Well written.

  • Charlotte_Lucas

    As regards home sewers, I regard “Slow Fashion” as just another buzz word for quality sewing. I have to admit that whenever the fashion industry starts blathering about “sustainability” and “green manufacturing” I’m very skeptical.

    President Obama’s comment makes no sense: STEM skills are very different from the kinds of manual skills that “makers” (stupid term) employ. They’re both important, of course.

    • Charlotte_Lucas

      Lest I be misunderstood, I think very highly of the video lessons I’ve watched on the University of Fashion site. Some are taught by teachers I’ve had or whose names I recognize. They emphasized the importance of attaining a high level of execution. No one wants to be slow just to be slow; rather, quality takes time.

  • Charlotte_Lucas

    It’s great to make skills accessible to a wider range of people as through a library, but the students need to be committed. I see a lot of would-be home sewers who ask questions on the Internet who think everything can be accomplished through shortcuts. Or someone with zero experience (cannot thread the machine) will ask for help sewing a fitted, zippered, velvet dress for which she has no pattern and get angry when she’s told she has to start out with something simpler, like a cotton skirt. The sense of entitlement is mind-boggling.

    When people have asked how to start out, I’ve listed the progression of projects assigned in Sewing I at FIT, which is a very sensible series. But a lot of people simply aren’t willing to learn the basics. There are newbies all over the web posting work that is terrible and they have no clue. What’s worse, is that they’re teaching bad habits to other beginners, who think any criticism is just “the haters” acting up.

    On one forum, a woman who works at a library wanted to know how she could learn to sew so she could teach library visitors in three or four months because the library’s been given a machine and a little money. Although a number of us told her that the library had to hire someone experienced to teach because sewing is not something you pick up in four months, the advice was falling on deaf ears. So again, I’m dubious.

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