Hot off the press: our Challenge … press release

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This is the press release that we’re written with the help of Ellie Gaskarth from the University’s Press Office, and with the approval of the Guildhall Shopping Centre. It will be published on the University website and, we hope, in the local and – you never know – outside press. This is, in a nutshell, what we’re doing! For more detail, see our blog page here.

Fashion first aid and clothes swap hit Exeter’s streets

If you have clothes that need mending or restyling, or want to swap unwanted garments for hidden gems from another wardrobe, head to the Guildhall Shopping Centre from June 2-5.

A group of students from the University of Exeter are taking over a shop in the centre as part of a series of global events and initiatives commemorating the first anniversary of the Rana Plaza factory disaster.

On April 24 last year, 1,133 people were killed and many more injured when the clothing complex collapsed in Dhaka, Bangladesh. After the disaster, dozens of brands quickly signed a binding agreement to improve factory safety in Bangladesh, and a small number offered compensation to the victims and their families.

The horrific event has been seen by many as an ethical turning point in the fashion industry, and has given rise to one of this year’s Grand Challenges at the University of Exeter.

From Monday, the students will be based in the Guildhall Shopping Centre, and will be finding out what people like about the clothes they wear, and what clothes they’d like to wear in the future.

As well as being happy to find the answers to any questions people have about their own clothes, there will also be a chance to replace or jazz up your garments at the shop.

On Tuesday, outgrown or underloved clothes and accessories can be brought in and exchanged on swap rails in Guildhall Square. On Wednesday, a First Aid Fashion Surgery opens in the ‘Talking Clothes’ shop. This is a chance to bring in beloved items that need mending or restyling. The students will be joined by talented textile students from Falmouth University and local menders and restylists.

Thursday will bring an interactive fashion show to the Market Square, where the students’ challenge is to literally wear what they’ve learned and encourage others to join in. From Monday to Thursday, visitors can also take part in Catherine Cartwright’s ‘How clean are your clothes’ art work, and take fashion ‘selfies’ in a London cab.

Geographer Dr Ian Cook, who is leading the Fashion Ethics after the Rana Plaza Factory Collapse Grand Challenge, said: “We’re looking forward to finding out what stories people can tell us about their clothes, and what they want us to find out for them. Our clothes not only contain stories of the people who made them, in Bangladesh or anywhere else. They also contain our own stories, of our friends, family members, work colleagues, shopping trips, what we can afford, what others say we look good wearing. We’re interested in finding out how these different stories come together in the clothes that people wear. We’ve tried to come up with some fun ways to do this. We’ll be easy to find. Just look for people wearing clothes inside out!”

Sheryel Ashwell, centre administrator at the Guildhall Shopping Centre, said: “This is a great way to raise awareness of the ethics of fashion and its production, and we are delighted to be able to help the University run this event. Ethical and sustainable shopping is important to us – not only do we have one of the most effective recycling systems in the city, we also support local businesses, especially via our successful weekly Street Food Market.”

The team will be based in the Market Square and in a ‘Talking Clothes’ shop (previously Camber & Batch) between 11am – 4pm from Monday 2 June to Thursday 5.

Find out more and read their daily blog at or follow them live on twitter via the hashtag #insideout.


For more information contact:

Eleanor Gaskarth

University of Exeter Press Office

Office: +44 (0)1392 722062

Mobile: +44(0)7827 309 332

Twitter: @UoE_ScienceNews

About the University of Exeter

The University of Exeter is a Russell Group university and in the top one percent of institutions globally. It combines world-class research with very high levels of student satisfaction. Exeter has over 18,000 students and is ranked 8th in The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide league table, 10th in The Complete University Guide and 12th in the Guardian University Guide 2014. In the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) 90% of the University’s research was rated as being at internationally recognised levels and 16 of its 31 subjects are ranked in the top 10, with 27 subjects ranked in the top 20. Exeterwas The Sunday Times University of the Year 2012-13.

The University has invested strategically to deliver more than £350 million worth of new facilities across its campuses in the last few years; including landmark new student services centres – the Forum in Exeter and The Exchange on the Penryn Campus in Cornwall, together with world-class new facilities for Biosciences, the Business School and the Environment and Sustainability Institute. There are plans for another £330 million of investment between now and 2016.

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