Visible Mending, Street Stitching, and Embroidered Handkerchiefs: How Craftivism is Being Used to Challenge the Fashion Industry
The contemporary practice of ‘craftivism’—which uses crafts such as knitting, sewing and embroidery to draw attention to ‘issues of social, political and environmental justice’ (Fitzpatrick 2018: 3)—has its origins in centuries of radical craft work where women and marginalised peoples, in particular, have employed crafts to protest, take a stand or comment on issues that concern them. Recently, craftivist actions have targeted the fashion and textile industry in an effort to highlight and address some of the social and environmental impacts of the global fashion industry, from the throwaway culture of fast fashion through to the unethical pay and working conditions of ready-made garment workers. Drawing on examples of both individual and collective forms of craftivism, this paper explores the ways that craftivism is being deployed not only as a means by which to mobilise the ethical use, consumption and production of fashion and textiles across the globe but also to hold the fashion industry to account against key concerns highlighted by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. In canvassing these examples, the paper considers the utility of craftivism as a model for challenging the fashion industry to effect change.
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