Education is key to moving the needle in fast fashion

A new study from the University of Exeter and the University of Wolverhampton claims that learning how clothes are made has a “transformative” effect on people’s relationship with fast fashion.

The research was part of the ‘S4S: Designing a Sensibility for Sustainable Clothing project’, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council at the University of Exeter.

Experts from the University of Exeter and the University of Wolverhampton asked people in Cornwall and the West Midlands how they felt about clothes and when they shopped, and whether the workshops would have an impact on their feelings, thoughts and actions. As part of the study, they partnered with community venues, consultants who delivered workshops, videographers, and the NGO Fashion Revolution.

The study, published in the Journal of Material Culture, says that to encourage more sustainable behaviour, people need to be given the space to learn rather than be taught what are described as “approved values ​​and behavior”.

“We found that the driving factor in avoiding fast fashion lies in realizing that clothes and the materials they are made from are precious and represent work and time. After the workshops, people expressed a desire to downsize their clothing, either by buying fewer, better-quality products that they hoped to keep longer, or by choosing not to buy anything for a long time,” Dr. Joanie Willett of the University. of Exeter says.

Professor Clare Saunders from the University of Exeter adds: “We found that inviting people to immerse themselves in the materiality of clothing enabled potentially transformative affective encounters that, like seeds, can be nurtured and nurtured. The workshops helped the participants to become more ‘fluid’ as people who create with textiles, and to find their enjoyment in doing these activities”.

Earlier this year, the European Commission’s independent advisers, Eunomia, urged the European Commission to get tough on fast fashion.

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