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Defashion Dorset

Updated: Mar 14

A celebration of rural makers reclaiming our clothing culture from big industry

Defashion Dorset will be held on 24th and 25th May 2024 at Hawker’s Farm, Dorset 

More info here: www.hawkersfarm.org

Fashion Act Now will hold a retreat for members of the group on 26th May also at Hawker’s Farm, Dorset. Join FAN here: www.FashionActNow.org/join




Featured in the October issue of Dorset Magazine, Jenny's ‘Defashion Dorset’ initiative is a testament to the power of local action in the global movement for alternative fashion systems. Jenny Morisetti brought defashioning to Dorset in May 2023 in the first ever event of its kind and is now preparing for the 2nd edition scheduled for Friday 24th and Saturday 25th of May 2024. 

Jenny is a member of Fashion Act Now (FAN), an activist community who, responding to the degrowth movement, coined the neologism defashion (1) as a ‘missile word’ (2) against the growth-based Fashion System. Working together with FAN, Defashion Dorset aims to enact change personally, collectively and politically. As an example of ‘Real Existing Degrowth’, it is a promising beginning of a fashion system belonging to an alternative imaginary based on humanity and ecology. 


Degrowth academic Serge Latouche, taking inspiration from markets in Africa and the Agora of Ancient Greece, proposed that markets become a meeting place for the community as well as a place for debate, calling on people to act as citizens rather than consumers. Latouche, asks us “to reimagine the market as a space that calls upon us as citizens, that appeals to our sense of civil obligation and participation rather than to our “economic rationality”” (3). Defashion Dorset could be said to recreate Latouche’s idea of the Agora for these 2 days.  


The event brings together members of the Dorset community, local sheep and alpaca farmers, fibre producers, clothing makers, and climate activists, creating a collaborative space for discussion, learning, and action towards local clothing culture. FAN’s Sara Arnold was among the speakers at the event last year, together with regenerative fashion expert Elizabeth Keach and dress and fashion historian Rachel Worth, who specialises in rural, working class and non-elite dress. In 2024, Defashion Dorset will welcome Lynne Franks, renowned broadcaster and fashion PR consultant turned campaigner for women in enterprise. More members of Fashion Act Now will be present too, including Cultural Anthropologist Sandra Niessen travelling from the Netherlands. 


Defashion Dorset demonstrates we don’t need the institutions of Big Fashion - the Fashion conglomerates and industry bodies that dictate new styles of clothing using influencers and advertising, and from ‘Fashion Capitals’ via ‘Fashion Weeks’. It decentralises fashion and empowers local makers, particularly women, to forge their own path as part of a fashion pluriverse. It follows degrowth common senses: local rural people can reuse, repair and upcycle, as well as engage with local small batch, slow, regenerative, farm-to-closet production. When sheep and alpaca fertilise soil, their wool is a byproduct. Currently much of it is simply discarded due to lack of profitability. Alongside growing food, farmers can also grow flax, hemp and natural dyes native to Dorset. While the fashion industry profiteers from brand equity, it is much more natural and human to share skills, techniques and pattern designs as convivial, commons-based practice. Though logical, Jenny found many people had not previously envisaged alternatives to the pervasive dominant Fashion system. 

 

Dressing (or clothing culture) is a human universal but Big Fashion, or Fossil Fuel Fashion, our dominant Fashion System, is a specific system of imaginary significations (4), that expresses our compliance with the imaginary of growth and expresses modernity, individualism and competition in a world of false scarcity. Our adherence to Big Fashion has become a hegemonic common sense with mono-cultural western styles of clothing becoming a default. Anthropologist Sandra Niessen (5) explains that Big Fashion has become a global system through violent processes which have eroded and erased other local, indigenous and sustainable fashion systems. We are conditioned, as part of the colonial project, to other those without Fashion, labelling them as less worthy, primitive and uncivilised. To ‘decolonise the imaginary’ (6), therefore requires reclaiming our clothing culture from Big Fashion and nurturing relational and reciprocal fashion practices that strengthen communities, truly provide a sense of belonging and bring us closer to nature. England's history as a coloniser has left its people particularly disconnected from a cultural identity outside of Big Fashion. 


In addition to the event in May, Jenny hosts gatherings and workshops at her Hawker’s Re-Creatives to teach the community about visible mending, embroidery, and the joy of a clothes library where outfits can be borrowed and shared. The movement's momentum also expanded at the Dorset COP, the first-ever community-led Conference Of the Parties. Dorset COP, which was held September 9, 2023, brought together the local community in urgent action to combat climate change. Jenny and Sara took the stage for a panel on the circular economy (7). 


This year, Defashion Dorset will be followed by a Fashion Act Now retreat at Jenny’s Hawker’s Farm, where members of the activist community will gather for conviviality, and joyful brainstorming and strategising.


Words by Liz Savage and Sara Arnold



References 


  1. Niessen, S. Defining Defashion: A Manifesto for Degrowth, International Journal of Fashion Studies, Volume 9, Issue Decolonizing Fashion as Process, Oct 2022, p. 439 - 444

  2. Demaria, F., Schneider, F., Sekulova, F. and Martinez-Alier, J., 2013. What is degrowth? From an activist slogan to a social movement. Environmental values, 22(2), pp.191-215

  3. Fournier, V., 2008. Escaping from the economy: the politics of degrowth. International journal of sociology and social policy.

  4. Latouche, S., 2018. The path to degrowth for a sustainable society. In Factor X. Springer, Cham, p. 277-284.

  5. https://rcdfashion.wordpress.com/2021/06/25/decolonial-fashion-lament-and-the-call-to-action-2/

  6. Latouche, S., 2018. The path to degrowth for a sustainable society. In Factor X. Springer, Cham, p. 277-284.

  7. https://youtu.be/QtdH0ejIJpo?si=SbRmO5OQeYnfIvSR



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