Make Thrift Mend (2014)
Make Thrift Mend is an art project focused on sustainable fashion, social practice, “art as action”, and reclaiming traditional garment-making skills. This project is also a “fast-fashion” fast. Outraged by the factory collapse in Bangladesh in spring 2013 killing more than 1,000 workers; inspired by the NPR interview with Elizabeth Cline author of, Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion; and prompted by Natalie Chanin’s blog post regarding slow design– I needed something to change. I used this information to inspire a process-based art project that would allow me to engage with slow fashion, stage a personal artist’s protest, and delve deeper into the intersection of art, fashion, and sustainability.
As part of my journey to resist the fast-fashion industry– and it’s unethical labor and ecological practices– I focused on making my own clothing, shopping for thrifted, vintage, or used clothing, and learning the disappearing crafts of mending, darning, preserving and making garments. I did not buy any new clothing for one entire year. I took this investigation one step further by only buying used clothing that was made of natural materials (cotton, linen, wool, hemp, silk, etc) to reduce the petrochemicals in my closet.
I shared my process on my website, offered DIY tutorials, created a resource list, attended workshops, hosted gatherings, and documented my garment making projects. I also secured an artist grant from the Puffin Foundation to offer a free online workshop focused on mending, natural dyeing, and supporting slow fashion. Upon completing the first year I realized I had just scratched the surface and committed to continuing my project for another year. In the second year, instead of abstaining from any new clothing I would only purchase select new clothing that was independently and sustainably designed and made. I would continue to focus on mending, natural dyeing, thrifting, and making my wardrobe for another year.