On the 6th and 7th of October 2018, Soka successfully held a two days program on Fair Fashion, Women and Creativity. It brought several women to a lovely remote part of South Holland to explore, share and understand the complexities of the fashion industry and the role women could have in shaping this dynamics.
I shared my journey of personalized style through the slow zerowaste approach by infusing it with indigenous African fabrics. This gradual discovery led to the creation of UnikBlends, a social enterprise that works with women artisans and designers, most of whom are based in Africa, to transform some of the incredible amount of waste generated from our quickly discarded clothes, including traditional wedding headgears (geles & AsoOkes) into Unique Outfits and functional Bags & Accessories.
Practical sustainable tips were given to daily clothing MESS, which I propose should be a consciously slow and creative approach that involves personal effort (the equivalent is to pay someone else) to bring about the associated long-term priceless benefits for ourselves, future generations and the planet.
Other speakers gave purposeful and informative talks, sharing their amazing journeys and work. The first day started off with Camila Schipper from Circle Economy explained circular economy, a closed loop system and its role in bringing about sustainable fashion.
Marilou Evelo shared her inspiring story of working with refugee women in the Netherlands to handmake amazingly high quality jackets. She showed us the incredible work of these women and their intricate colorful creations which also serves as a means of bonding to build meaningful engagement outside their homes.
introduced us to her Mexican brand, MILA. She explained her works with local Artisans using Ethical fashion which is characterized by natural fabrics and the traditional weaving, embroidery and dyeing techniques of Mexico.
Sonia Angulo took us back in time and shared with us the history of clothes. She reminded us that repairing and taking care of clothes were nothing new as this was the norm not too long ago. She further encouraged everyone to consider taking up sewing as a hobby, a point I strongly agree with as it would enable our clothes last longer, reducing waste from discarded clothes plus you could save good money.
The first day was rounded off by the Yolande Ramos, who presented a theoretical perspective of Clothing, Fashion, and Culture. She introduced us to the anthropology of women, reminding us that it takes a few minutes to make a first impression and normally our fashion is part of the expression.
The Second day was much calmer and reflective as we explored the day with:
Adriana Costantino, an anthropologist, who passionately talked about the value of femininity in bringing about harmony in our globalized family. We have a responsibility to make a difference in our world as we are dignified beings and as such valuable to society was part of Adriana's message which was rounded off by a lovely song, expressing the inner beauty and strength of a woman.
Then came Liesbeth van Erp, who made us participate in a short workshop. We got to analyse several paintings of two Biblical female figures, Mary & Martha and discuss how their story reflect contemporary messages which still offer relevant messages for today.
The event was rounded off by an informative presentation by Olivia Darby, Director of policy and campaigns of Wonder Foundation. She had given us a talk the day before on modern slavery and the fashion industry, raising awareness of the broadly complex issues of the industry's supply chain. On this second day, she addressed the need for empowerment, one that involved Transformational Solidarity to bring about real change in the world. Achieving this is not always easy but in its simplest form, it considers treating the other as equal, making us the most human as we open ourselves to dialogue, reaping the most for ourselves based on others authentic capacities as well as ours.
The two days were well organized, thanks to Anna-Sofia Geib and her team.
It also made quite an impression that one of the attendees commented:
"We should be more conscious about the things we do and the things we buy. And even though Fast Fashion is easy, trendy and quick, we do have to consider buying second hand or vintage. We need to care for our clothes and not, in the first instance, thinking: ‘Well, this blouse or dress is cheap, let’s buy it and if it breaks in a few weeks I always can by a new one.’ With this way of thinking you are not contributing to making the environment a better place. And after this day, it all made sense. We need to be aware!" Katrina Sietina.