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Must Read/ A ler: “Biodiversity in Fashion Fibers”

November 8, 2013

One of the things I love about fiber-arts is how it seamlessly fits into the larger socio-economic picture. Knitting is a historical activity with a symbolic and cultural importance and an economic and environmental effect. The moment you realize this, figuring out that stitch, getting that technique right – it all becomes something else.

I was thrilled when I found the work of Liz Spencer, a fashion designer with an interest in fiber-niches. In the educational guide she produce for her dissertation – “Biodiversity in Fashion Fibers” – she gives an accessible and vivid portrait of some of the most urgent issues facing fiber-sourcing and textiles today. The knitwear collection accompanying it is simply exquisite (and is available here!).

The work is full of interesting reflections and case studies – from natural coloured alpacas and the prevalence of monoculture farms, to the (astounding) case of Sharlea merino. From the first chapter “Homogenization of Fiber and the Ubiquity of Merino”

The merino sheep should not be the only source for which the fashion-industry turns for soft woven woolens (…). At present, fashion knitwear is suffering a case of single-breed inundation. Merino wool has become ubiquitous on fashion knitwear rails and now appears often in all levels of the market (…) if designers and fashion brands don’t reach out to smaller and more diverse fiber markets, however disparate they may be, these unique niches fibers may cease to be viable options.

Uma das coisas que mais gosto no trabalho da lã e dos têxteis é a facilidade com que se passa de pensar a actividade individual para pensar o sistema socio-económico em que ela se integra. O tricot é uma actividade com uma história, com uma importância simbólica e cultural e um impacto económico e ambiental. A partir do momento em que nos apercebemos disto todos os pontos e técnicas adequirem uma outra dimensão.

Foi por isso um prazer descobrir o trabalho da Liz Spencer, uma designer com um interesse particular em ‘nichos’ têxteis. O guia educacional que faz parte da sua tese de mestrado – “Biodiversity in Fashion Fibers” – debruça-se sobre alguns do maiores problemas da indústria têxtil comtemporânea. E a colecção de peças, que também faz parte da tese,  é espantosa (e está à venda aqui!).

“knit pullover, canadian raised & spun musk ox & angora rabbit blend (light grey) & british raised & spun naturally colored alpaca (dark grey)”

“knit hat, british raised & handspun wensleydale sheeps wool”

All pictures:

©2013 liz-spencer. All rights reserved

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