Wednesday 11 March 2015

T-Shirt Decisions

The t-shirt is, along with the blue jean and the sneaker, a truly iconic piece of 21st century fashion. They are so ubiquitous that we don't even really think of them as fashion items. They're just, well, there. We all have drawers full of the things. Sometimes, it seems like they just appear out of nowhere.
An item as common and everyday as the t-shirt leads us to be complacent about its origins. We simply don't think about where they come from. They're cranked out by machine, right?
Wrong. There's more to the humble t-shirt than meets the eye, and a recent pop-up in Leeds showed interested parties just how much work goes into something so simple.
Antiform, a group of activists and makers, teamed up with TRANSFER, an joint initiative set up by the Centre For Sustainable Fashion, the University of Sheffield and the London College of Fashion to build a t-shirt factory. Over the course of a weekend last month, the public were invited in to see the processes involved in getting a t-shirt to the consumer.
People were asked a series of questions, based on their buying habits. These questions formed the basis of a manufacturing docket. At the end of the day, participants could see the garment that they had unwittingly specified created in front of them: not by machine, but through the work of Antiform's skilled artisans. Cranking out four t-shirts an hour, observers were quickly made aware that the modern t-shirt is a complex garment, the end result of a myriad of different processes.
TRANSFER hope that the event, and others like it that they plan to put on over the coming months, will help people to reconnect with the fashion that they buy and wear, and that they'll realise that there are skilled, hard-working craftspeople behind those items. A fascinating idea, and one that really brings some hard truths about the fashion industry home to us.
For more on the Leeds pop-up T-shirt factory, visit the Antiform page:

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