Press release: students finish off in style

Our Challenge’s Press Team are tasked with posting a press release every day. Here’s what they have written about day four of our Challenge, our last day in the Guildhall Shopping Centre.

Students finish off Ethical Fashion week in style

Students studying ‘fashion ethics after the Rana Plaza factory collapse’ rounded off their week’s activity in the Guildhall Shopping Centre yesterday, in preparation for the final fashion show in the Forum at the University of Exeter’s Streatham campus this afternoon.

Fashion experts have been visiting their shop all week, and many others have just dropped by to talk about clothes. Kate Fletcher, Professor of Sustainable Fashion at the London College of Fashion, spend the day working and talking with the students and took the time to add her support to a student video about Fashion Revolution Day and the #insideout campaign.

A manager from one of the city’s well-known national fashion retail chains dropped by to assure the students that some brands really are listening to the campaign for ethical fashion. But, he told them,  ‘no one has ever asked us where the clothes are from’. This is the exact issue the students are trying to resolve. Why don’t we just ask?

Exeter’s City Council manager also came by, and explained that what had prompted him to visit was the sheer amount of social media interaction, particularly on Twitter.

Twitter has been the most useful form of social media the students have used to broadcast what they have done and learned during the week. They were excited at their wrap-up meeting yesterday when the Press Team announced that a Canadian supply chain consultant with 18 years of experience has shared the team’s Fashion Ethics blog with his 1700+ LinkedIn industry contacts.

Meanwhile, the Projection Team were busy creating a video presentation to accompany the fashion show today, using all the photographs, blog posts, tweets, Tumblr posts, Instagram posts. You name it, they’ve used it to broadcast what they were doing and finding out.

After spending all week reading and sumarising for others Roman Krznaric’s book Empathy: A Handbook for Revolution, the Academic Research team put its ideas into practice by running the fashion ethics cinema in the shopping centre’s square.  They handed out postcards to passers by and asked them to write down one thing they would say to the person who made their clothing. This was, Challenge Director Dr Ian Cook said, one of their most successful public engagement activity. Dozens of people wrote fascinating and thought-provoking responses which the team collected to include in today’s fashion show.

As well allowing the students to learn about the issues, members of the Art Engagement team said that they had become very ‘emotionally involved’ in the Challenge and their work, which has been heavily focused on the Rana Plaza collapse itself. They created bags and displays ‘from a place of feeling’ which will also form part of today’s fashion show.

In Exeter’s Phoenix Centre, the Detective Work team were still hidden away, ensuring that the main fashion questions asked of them on Monday had been answered. Dr Cook had expected a high standard of work from them, which they finished off yesterday. They had traced Carry Somers’ vintage jacket, produced an advice sheet on how to but a pair of ethical jeans for under £50, found out how the Guildhall Centre’s uniforms could be more ethically sourced and – the big question on everyone’s lips – how can we find, choose and wear clothes more ethically in the future? These reports will be published on the Challenge blog next week, but paper copies will be available this afternoon in The Forum.

The four days the students have spent in the Guildhall this week have been, they believe, highly successful. They have found ways to discuss an unsettling issue with local and online communities with empathy and, although it might sound inappropriate, good humor.  They have been amazed by what they have learned, despite the impossibility of finding clarity in fashion’s notoriously opaque industry.

Today’s fashion show promises to be a tremendously exciting and perhaps even a shocking experience for all. While the show starts officially at 3pm, students will be wearing, showing and talking about what they’ve learned from 1pm.

 

For more information on this project, see

Blog: www.whatnotfashion.wordpress.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/Grand-Challenges-2014-Fashion-ethics/666441923379064

Tumblr: fashionethics14

Instagram: @fashionethicsftt

Twitter: @followthethings

Storify ‘live feed’: https://storify.com/followthethings/talking-clothes

YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLYkkFa9mbg5C0RrCTFxNgd_LcwFGwRow5

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