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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Published: 2022-06-03
Pages:87 to 101
Section:Special Issue: Fashion Justice
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How to Cite
McGovern, A. . and Barnes, C. . (2022) “Visible Mending, Street Stitching, and Embroidered Handkerchiefs: How Craftivism is Being Used to Challenge the Fashion Industry”, International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy, 11(2), pp. 87-101. doi: 10.5204/ijcjsd.2352.

Author Biographies


Dr Alyce McGovern is an Associate Professor of Criminology in the School, of Law, Society and Criminology, Faculty of Law and Justice at UNSW Sydney. Her research interests include police public relations and image work, media and digital criminology, and knitting graffiti and craftivism. She is the author of Craftivism and Yarn Bombing: A Criminological Exploration (2019, Palgrave), and co-author of Policing and Media: Public Relations, Simulations and Communications (2013, Routledge) and Sexting and Young People (2015, Palgrave).


Clementine’s artistic practice is grounded in how women find meaning and belonging through craft-based practices and is concerned with how we can elevate the textile arts within a contemporary context. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Art from The National Art School Sydney and a Master of Peace and Conflict Studies from the University of Sydney, where she completed a dissertation investigating Ready-made Garment workers' (RMG) rights in Bangladesh. Clementine has exhibited her work in Australia and abroad, including at The Ian Potter Museum of Art, Wangaratta Art Gallery, The Australian Tapestry Workshop, Firstdraft Gallery and Klin D’Oeil, Paris. Recently, she has taken on the role of creative workshop facilitator within the new migrant and refugee community, including a collaborative textile print project with The Social Outfit (2020).