The Stitchery collective : fashion in an expanded field

Horton, Kathleen & Blades, Bianca (2013) The Stitchery collective : fashion in an expanded field. In Making Futures, Plymouth, UK.

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This practice-based presentation explores the role of fashion as an agent for social inclusion and ethical design practice in communities.

The Stitchery Collective is an artist-run initiative based in Brisbane, Australia. Operating at the intersection of craft and design, the fashion-based initiative challenges the assumption that fashion is designed, produced and consumed exclusively in the commercial sector. As a not-for-profit cooperative, the stitchery collective is the first and only fashion organisation in Australia to attract funding under the national and state artist-run-initiative scheme. The collective approach extends to the stitchery design practice, facilitated by individual practitioners working within the organisation who devise programs in the context of collaborative and socially engaged design. Working under the banner of a question, Can fashion be more than pretty clothes for pretty people? the stitchery works to extend the cultural field of fashion practice in the 21st century.

The premise of dress as a ‘significant creative or cultural expression’ has informed the expanded definition of fashion practice, as adopted by the stitchery. This alternative classification has fostered partnerships with numerous community groups, including those marginalised in the contemporary fashion context such as recent migrants and refugees. Community engagement programs span design, sewing and up-cycling workshops, sustainability lectures, clothing swaps and public education seminars, supported by partnerships with various cultural, government and educational institutions. In 2011, the stitchery travelled to the Venice Biennale’s 3rd International Children’s Carnival, hosting a workshop series and installation to promote design for sustainability. The proven potential for design to connect community members has motivated the stitchery to question the opportunity for fashion practice to, perhaps uncharacteristically, operate under the banner of ‘design for social good’.

Acknowledging craft and design as relational fields, this presentation expands fashion as a tool for social innovation and sustainable practice. The stitchery dislocates the consumer status of fashion with small-scale, localised projects; moving beyond fashion as a dictum of social class to an alternative model that is accessible, conscious, flexible, connected and sustainable. As an undefined post-industrial future approaches, the non-commercial status of the stitchery practice might work to present an image of the active post-consumer. How can the stitchery propose a resilient model of design for the future?

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ID Code: 60753
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: No
Additional URLs:
Keywords: Fashion , Practice , Alternative , History, post-consumer
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > BUILT ENVIRONMENT AND DESIGN (120000) > DESIGN PRACTICE AND MANAGEMENT (120300)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > BUILT ENVIRONMENT AND DESIGN (120000) > DESIGN PRACTICE AND MANAGEMENT (120300) > Design History and Theory (120301)
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Design
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Deposited On: 12 Jun 2013 22:46
Last Modified: 11 Aug 2014 00:55

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