An international fashion research project exploring the 'craft of use'

Craft Of Use

Most people are familiar with – and highly prize – the craft or expert skill of making things, like garments. What is valued is an expert’s touch, honed over years of training and a process of constant refinement of technique necessary to create superior pieces. We think that similarly skilful, cultivated and ingenious practices also exist associated with the tending and using of garments, we call them the ‘craft of use’ and they are raison d’être of this project. These are the practices that facilitate and emerge around the extended iterative and satisfying use of garments through time.

Rarely, if at all, do ‘craft of use’ practices need much in the way of extra material consumption or money to make them possible. Rather they are contingent on individuals finding creative opportunity in habits, stories, techniques, ways of thinking and with existing clothes. As such, the ‘deep inner space’ of the wardrobe offers up potential inspiration to a design process concerned with doing things better rather than doing more things with more materials. Such work contributes to the radical ‘post-growth’ sustainability agenda that critiques the central importance of growth to notions of prosperity and attempts to define and describe economic activity by biophysical limits. This explores an alternative to the predominant economic model that works within planetary limits and looks for ways to add value, meet needs and provide employment without constantly expanding material throughput. Framed in this way the ‘craft of use’ offers tentative starting points for understanding opportunities for how fashion in a post-growth economy may develop; and Local Wisdom looks to amplify these practices and increase their uptake.

Explore more about these ideas on our sister website the Craft of Use and see more in the recently published book from Routledge, Craft of Use; Post-Growth Fashion.