Slow and Steady Wins the Race by Mary Ping
The message may be the medium, but for some eco-savvy fashion designers, it’s not simply enough to use organic materials, nontoxic processes, and fair-trade practices. The ongoing Ethics + Aesthetics = Sustainable Fashion exhibit, held at the Pratt Manhattan Gallery in NYC, aims to examine the relationship we have with the clothes we acquire, consume, and cast off, from the way they look to how they make us feel.
Susan Cianciolo’s hand-crafted dress
WHO, WHAT, WEAR
Although recycling and using sustainable textiles are par for the course in eco-fashion, the exhibit seeks to “broaden sustainability by exploring ideas related to modularity, minimalism, and memory,” according to Francesca Granata and Sarah Scaturro, the exhibit’s curators. “It is ultimately up to the consumer to really start thinking about what they wear and why they wear it,” Scaturro tells Ecouterre.
It’s ultimately up to the consumer to think about what they wear and why they wear it.
With an artist/designer roster that includes Bodkin, Alabama Chanin, Susan Cianciolo, Kelly Cobb, Loomstate, Rogan, Max Osterweis/SUNO, Zoë Sheehan Saldaña, SANS, Slow and Steady Wins the Race, Uluru, and Andrea Zittel with Tiprin Follet/Smockshop, the exhibit’s lineup surveys impressive territory in terms of where sustainable fashion may be headed. Their message: Slow design can be au courant, as well as refreshingly attainable.
Zoë Sheehan Saldaña’s “Shopdropping” garments
GUERILLAS IN OUR MIDST
Particularly intriguing are the fashion-art projects of Zoë Sheehan Saldaña, whose subversive “Shopdropping” garments are acquired at a local Vermont Wal-mart, then replicated by hand by matching fabric, design, and embellishments. After the tags from the original garment are sewn onto the copy, the duplicate is secretly placed on a Wal-Mart store rack to be sold at the original price.
100-Mile Suit by Kelly Cobb
You’ve heard of the 100-mile diet, but what about the 100-mile fashion diet? Kelly Cobb’s “100-Mile Suit” was created using materials acquired within a 100-mile radius of her home. But more than that, the suit’s labor-intensive crafting process—it took 20 artisans several months to complete—clearly underscores the vast resources and cheap labor involved in global manufacturing, even with something as basic as a T-shirt.
The 100-Mile Suit was made with materials acquired within a 100-mile radius of the designer’s home.
In a similar vein, Mary Ping’s Slow and Steady Wins the Race) hand-stitched and artfully reconstructed designs challenge fashion’s love affair with trends and rapid-fire turnover. Presented as a bimonthly “clothing diary,” Ping takes the familiar and subverts it into something almost entirely unrecognizable.
Tiprin Follet and Andrea Zittel’s Smockshop “Uniform Dress” series
THE MORE THINGS CHANGE
An oldie but goodie, Andrea Zittel’s long-running “Uniform Dress” project became a group endeavor in the hands of the Smockshop artist collective. “Rules make us more creative,” Zittel once said, and nothing demonstrates that ethos better than the unique and completely one-of-a-kind dresses that came out of reinterpreting Zittel’s original design.