Locally Made: Fashion & Fibers cover

Locally Made: Fashion & Fibers

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Before there’s fashion, there are fibers. But do you know where your fibers come from?


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Fashion and Fibers

Fashion and Fibers

Before there’s fashion, there are fibers. But do you know where your fibers come from?

Fibers From Overseas

According to Kristin Morrison, a local textile artist and fashion designer, we used to grow cotton and indigo in the South, but since the era of industrialization we began to export fibers from overseas, US fabric mills began to close.

There are only 2 organic cotton farms in California currently and they do not produce enough to support the industry. As a result, fiber, textile, and apparel production are exported to places like China and India, where the cost of production is low and there are few regulations on the ethics of labor and farming.

Sustainability

Sustainability

It’s clear that fast fashion, just like fast food, is a not sustainable system. The question is how do we change this mindset?

Making Better Decisions

Kristin offers a solution, “To change that is to begin a local process, i.e. making textiles here, and the other portion of that is consumers supporting local makers and designers who are a part of a local process.

Making better decisions within the realm of opportunities is key - anything that challenges you in your personal life to consume less per year and be more conscious about the designers that you’re purchasing from, looking for local, and locally made. It’s also about building a relationship between the consumer, retailer, and designer.

It all needs to happen together to shift the paradigm that we currently live in."

Pushing Awareness

Pushing Awareness

Kristin is also adamant about designers taking more responsibility for pushing awareness because designers have more opportunities to be directly connected with the production process.

Bringing Woven Mills Back To The States

“The good news is there is a small but strong movement towards bringing woven mills back to the states."

"I’m starting to work with domestic woven mills like the California Cloth Foundry and denim producers like Cone Mills on the east coast mills. This year, I’ve started working with LA Fibershed, who are doing amazing work towards that. We’re essentially a nonprofit, resource organization, and art collective who is trying to connect designers and artists to local fibers…what we’re calling a Fibershed.

Similar to a watershed, it’s connecting with bioregional fibers like California cotton, wool, dye plants, production, resources, and water. We do our best to source all of the above within a 250 mile radius of downtown Los Angeles,” Kristin explains.

The Cost Of Production

The Cost Of Production

The challenge with such an intensively hands-on approach is the cost of production, which increases the price of products.

An Opportunity For A Cultural Shift

Kristin sees this as an opportunity for a cultural shift:

"I am the designer, the maker, and the textile artist, and I am pushing to make more of my own fabrics. Thus, the process is going to take infinitely longer than sending it off to someone else. But the value and quality of each piece go up infinitely as well. So there is a direct correlation. If the customer values all that we said, then the hope is the willingness to invest in one or a few pieces a year rather than a few pieces a month.”

In essence, we are investing in functional, durable products that will last a long time and bringing back a craftsmanship culture that celebrates the artistry of handmade goods.

The piece is an excerpt from The Ecology Center's Fall Issue of Evolve.

Images by ©iStock