Folk fashion: amateur re-knitting as a strategy for sustainability

Holroyd, Amy Twigger (2013) Folk fashion: amateur re-knitting as a strategy for sustainability. Doctoral thesis, Birmingham City University.


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This research considers amateur fashion making – ʻfolk fashionʼ – as a strategy for sustainability. Homemade clothes are often seen as sustainable, in comparison with the environmental and social problems associated with mass-produced ʻfast fashionʼ. However, this view is partly based on a simplistic and romantic view of the homemade, which has received little critical examination.

The study specifically investigates the reworking of existing garments through the use of knitbased skills, techniques and knowledge. This approach challenges the linear productionconsumption model of the mainstream fashion industry. Because re-knitting techniques must be adapted to suit the particularities of each individual garment, re-knitting provides an opportunity for amateur knitters to engage with creative design.

The research employs a workshop methodology, which combines design research with creative methods. A group of seven female amateur knitters were interviewed individually before taking part in a series of workshop sessions. The project culminated in six of the participants re-knitting items from their own wardrobes. The detailed data gathered from this group is supported by comments from a wider community of knitters, primarily gathered via an informal participatory knitting activity.

The research finds that re-knitting can be seen as an effective strategy for sustainability. It not only provides a means of extending product life, but more holistically offers an alternative means of participating in fashion, and a way of addressing the relationship between fashion and consumption.

Beyond this central finding, four key insights emerge from the research. These are the metaphor of fashion as common land; the nuanced understanding of the experience of wearing homemade clothes in contemporary British culture; evidence of the ability of amateurs to design for themselves and ways in which this can be supported; and the understanding of the factors that should be considered when trying to develop a culture of reworking.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
September 2013Completed
Subjects: CAH25 - design, and creative and performing arts > CAH25-01 - creative arts and design > CAH25-01-05 - others in creative arts and design
Divisions: Faculty of Arts, Design and Media > Birmingham Institute of Jewellery, Fashion & Textiles > School of Fashion and Textiles
Doctoral Research College > Doctoral Theses Collection
Depositing User: Richard Birley
Date Deposited: 18 Jul 2017 13:31
Last Modified: 12 Jan 2022 17:20

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