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

Material resourcefulness

Garments are fusions of materials and energy brought to the body in myriad configurations, yet the dominant force in fashion, consumerism, tends to value only a narrow spectrum of fashion activity. The practices of material resourcefulness broaden this view and show a burgeoning testing ground of an alternative flows of fibre, fabric and product.

African purpose, Western fit

"So my dress I had gotten while I was working in East Africa in Uganda… all the second hand clothing that comes from America goes to Uganda. So I would do a lot of shopping in those markets… you would always find very unique things.

So as I was walking I saw this very brightly coloured gold dress …and it fit like a glove so it was one of those ‘ah ha’ moments in the market which doesn’t usually happen. It has no label. It’s a little rough on the inside. The lining and things like that. It’s cut with like pinking sheers.

I’m very much about fit so with the African garments it’s interesting. A lot of them are boxy. They’ll make it one-sized-fits-all and you’ll put a belt around it. [In Uganda] clothes need it to be more functional. They need to breast feed their children. A lot of the things that they have are a solid piece of fabric that’s just a square and it will be used to carry their children, to carry things on their head, to tie up their hair. If something spills on the floor, if you have a guest and you need to lay it out so it’s clean… a multi purpose fabric.

And in the western world you just don’t have that. You have this one outfit that sometimes you can only wear to that one occasion but for me I always try to get make it multi [purpose]. So for me, I’ve worn this dress from first dates to wedding rehearsals to Friday at work because in New York you can wear anything you want."

New York - January 2013
Photograph by Ellinor Stigle