Fashion Activism, Space Between China and NZ

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FASHION ACTIVISM SPACE BETWEEN CHINA & NZ College of Creative Arts Massey University International Study Trip 2015



Photo by Tom Pringle 3

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) Edited by Jennifer Whitty and Sarah Gardenier Authors: Jennifer Whitty, Dorothy Lee, Kristen Meaclem, Lachlan Philipson,Maggie Meiklejohn, Megan Alexander, Matisse Rendle Mitchell, Pania Tucker, Tom Pringle, Yoshino Maruyama, Sarah Gardenier. Designed by Sarah Gardenier ISBN 978-0-473-39733-3 Wellington: Space Between College of Creative Arts Massey University [edited May 2017]

FASHION ACTIVISM SPACE BETWEEN CHINA & NZ College of Creative Arts Massey University International Study Trip 2015

Contents Introduction Ted’s Ten Places

7 14 16

NZ Students Sarah Gardenier Kristen Meaclem Lachlan Philipson Matisse Rendle Mitchell Tom Pringle Yoshino Maruyama Dorothy Lee Pania Tucker Megan Alexander Maggie Meiklejohn

22 26 32 38 40 46 58 62 68 70 76

Supporting Material Acknowledgements

84 87

China & NZ Study Trip 2015 Fashion design pedagogy is based upon dominant paradigms established during the Industrial Revolution where the emphasis is placed on giving form to products for consumers based upon the logic of growth in a world of finite limits (Daly1992; Jackson 2009). This has led to a contemporary unsustainable situation where the global fashion industry is arguably the second most polluting industry next to oil. Fashion education needs to prepare its designers to address as Alastair Fuad Luke (2009. p.xxi) describes as a ‘multitude of truths, economic, political, social,ecological, ethical technical, symbolic, philosophical, and cultural’. “Fashion Activism: Space Between China and NZ’ is a cross cultural, interdisciplinary course, which was devised by sustainable fashion researcher/ lecturer Jennifer Whitty to encourage designers to explore the breadth of issues where fashion may have influence. Whitty is interested in expanding the notions of sustainability within design education from different perspectives to investigate how it can contribute to engaging the public in sustainable and progressively transformative eco-social practices. It was delivered over six weeks in NovemberDecember 2015 in NZ and China in over three major centres of design, culture, enterprise

and industry: Xi’an, Shanghai, Beijing. Each university partner brought distinct expertise and complementary approaches to design, technology and business with an emphasis on internationally oriented design and innovation. This course asks the research question, can designers extend their effect beyond the ‘designed product’ to work with society at large? If educators, researchers and practitioners ask different questions of the field of fashion will it enable future designers to respond to these insights and enact positive change? The course had the following four aims: -- To invite engagement with more strategic and systemic designer roles -- To bridge the gap between professional and personal value systems, for a more holistic and embodied engagement with the sustainability imperative -- To set up conditions for shared learning experiences on several cognitive levels -- To offer a framework for opportunity focused and imaginative explorations of sustainability It asked can designers extend their effect beyond the product to work creatively with society at large? Can a systemic approach to fashion education activate our future designers capacity to engage with the sustainability imperative to support higher levels of synergy in collaborative practice?


Course Structure

The course received funding from The Prime Minister’s Scholarship for Asia (PMSA) Which is a programme funded by the New Zealand government and administered by Education New Zealand.

In this studio based course students focussed on the emergent field of design activism while raising awareness of the contribution that design can make to contemporary issues. Students were exposed to the history and contexts of the textile and clothing industry in both NZ and China, or a multitude of truths as described by Alastair Fuad Luke (2009. p.xxi). They explored a range of creative responses based on issue led design approaches and frameworks (eg slow design, metadesign, co-design).

The scholarship aims to: -- Strengthen New Zealand’s ability to engage with key Asian trading partners -- Improve the international skills of the New Zealand workforce -- Improve the internationalisation of New Zealand tertiary institutions -- Increase international understanding of the strength and quality of New Zealand’s education system -- Establish connections between New Zealand and other countries through participants building lifelong friendships and networks -- Strengthen New Zealanders’ understanding of other cultures

Methods & Processes Personal/cultural truths: understanding our own context (Fuad Luke 2009. p.xxi) The students defined their activist space by analysing their professional and personal motivations and intentions using TED’s ten as a way of framing their intentions. The New Zealand students were asked to create a manifesto for Design Innovation while in NZ which they presented to the Chinese students in the form of a Pecha Kucha to demonstrate their individual practice and values. This was refined to become the basis of the production of ‘artefacts’ as defined by Fuad Luke while working alongside Chinese students in Xi’an and Shanghai. Outcome: Artefacts as defined by Fuad Luke (2009) -- Propositional artefacts which explore and demonstrate their sustainability by suggesting a vision for changing the status quo, -- Demonstration artefacts which demonstrate positive alternatives that are superior to the status quo, -- Entrepreneurial artefacts designed and produced to challenge the status quo of the marketplace and are produced in small batches. Examining NZ Industry/economic/political/ technical truths (Fuad Luke 2009. p.xxi) Whitty introduced the students to the philosophy,

methodology and manifesto of the Space Between ( operation at Massey University, a social enterprise for fashion. Dr Fiona Chan, a researcher/lecturer at the School of Communication and Journalism at Massey University gave a talk on consumer psychology talk about differences in chinese and NZ consumer behaviour. Robertina Downes, a fashion lecturer talked about her experience with offshore manufacturing and the history of apparel industry in NZ since the 1970’s and the shift of offshore production to China. Dr Max Schleser gave a workshop on mobile phone documentation. There was also a zine workshop to visualise issues and strategies with Environmental scientist Madeleine Parker. Local field trip to Lower Hutt to fashion/clothing factories: Rembrandt Suits, which is the only New Zealand retailer with a tailoring factory still based in NZ, and Earthlink Inc/Earthlink Apparel, a not for profit whose aim is to divert previously wasted, end-of-life, corporate apparel and textile resources into childrenswear and accessories. Earthlink Apparel manufacture the fundamentals range for Space Between. We also visited a recycling facility at Seaview to see what happens to products at the end of their life cycle.

Earthlink Apparel New Zealand




TED’s Ten Sustainable Design Strategies

01 Design to Minimise Waste

02 Design for Cyclability

03 Design to Reduce Chemical Imapcts

04 Design to Reduce Energy & Water Use

05 Design that Explores Cleaner/ Better Technologies

06 Design that Takes Models from History & Nature

07 Design for Ethical Production

08 Design to Reduce the Need to Consume

09 Design to Dematerialise & Develop Systems & Services

10 Design Activism


PLACES Xi’an Polytechnic University Tsinghua, Beijing Shanghai Institute of Visual Arts (SIVA)


01 Xi’an Polytechnic University Slow Design The students were exposed to the richness of the traditional artisan making culture in rural Xi’an and the surrounding provinces of Qianyang, Fengxiang and Hu county on organised field trips. The group was allowed access to small-scale production, quality and traditional craftsmanship The group also visited the Gaoling Culture Center and Shaanxi History Museum. The course in Xi’an focussed on the introduction and development of slow design principles (Fuad Luke 2009) in relation to fashion design. The six principles are: 1. Reveal 2. Expand 3. Reflect 4. Engage 5. Participate 6. Evolve

Students developed creative responses with their XPU Chinese partner in relation to the first three design principles. Clothes swap: Changing consumer behaviour and clothing as a form of cultural exchange. A group (Jennifer Whitty, Kristen M, Yoshi, Maggie, Yan, Eric, Awhi) from CoCA and XPU co-designed a clothing swop for all the cohort to share and reexamining existing clothing items.

02 Tsinghua, Beijing Consumer Behaviour, Post Growth Fashion

03 Shanghai Institute of Visual Arts (SIVA) Unsustainable Fashion Consumption

Jennifer Whitty delivered a talk entitled “Space Between: A New Social Enterprise/ Green Business Model for Fashion Design” and a two hour workshop “Fashion Activism, Platforms of Action through the Principals of Slow Design” to CoCA and Tsinghua staff and students. These workshops were working towards changing designer/ consumer behaviour to develop competencies and more sustainable approaches to buying, using and designing clothing.

CoCA students were partnered with a SIVA Fashion Marketing student to to develop design strategies that create a ‘counter-narrative’ to the current commercial fashion system. They examined how to address accelerated consumption habits and creating a better integration between fashion user/consumer and fashion product using methodologies and concepts such as participatory design, design activism and meta design. Field trip to contemporary shopping malls and clothing factory, Elegant Prosper. Students had access to all workshops and facilities in all institutions ranging from digital textile printing to painting studios.



Xi’an Polytechnic University, Photo by Dorothy Lee 21


NZ STUDENTS Tom Pringle, Industrial Design Megan Alexander, Photography Meghan Crozier, Graduate Diploma, Visual Communication Design Yoshino Maruyama, Fashion Design Dorothy Lee, Fashion Design Lachlan Philipson,Visual Communication Design Matisse Rendle Mitchell, Textile Design Sarah Gardenier,Visual Communication Design Awhi Puketapu, Maori Visual Arts Kristen Meaclem,Fashion Design Maggie Meiklejohn, Visual Communication Design Pania Tucker, Fashion Design


Shanghai Institute of Visual Arts (SIVA)


Exhibition install in Shanghai 25

Sarah Gardenier Visual Communication Designer repurpose participate community global



Before heading off to China, I was interested how we might encourage the consumer to build a deeper and stronger relationship and attachment to what they wear. This area of focus had a personal relevance, because although I have strong ties to objects I collect, I seem to have a very little attachment or relationship with the clothes that I wear. I was thinking that a solution to this could be to rethink the role of the consumer and create opportunities for the individual to make interventions in the fashion production process. Build relationships, participate, and feedback into the system in a way that has personal meaning and relevance to them. What I had learnt in class before the trip made me think that generally the fashion process is mass-produced, linear and outcome driven. With little consumer involvement and two-way dialogue. Although I do not come from a fashion background, I was looking forward to applying the visual communication design skills I have learnt so far at university, such as service design and ethnographic research, to solving a fashion sustainability problem in an activism mind set.


Upon arriving in China. I quickly learnt that the best way to gain insights about what is going on in the fashion industry, and in the wider context, is through people. We were in the unique situation where we got to attend classes at Chinese Universities and work alongside Chinese Students. I got the most insights for my project through casual conversations with classmates. I also learnt that fashion activism projects do not have to be purely about the clothes, but can focus on people and the actions that surround the clothes. The most valuable thing I took away from China was the importance of hands-on experiences and how that can feed into my design practice. For me, a highlight was visiting the local makers workshops and trying their traditional techniques. Looking forwards, I don’t think that there is a day that goes by that I don’t draw from my experiences in China, both personally and within my creative practice. I approach everything with more confidence, more communication and a more open mind. I am more aware of different ways of learning and different worldviews and understanding of different practices. I think this will serve me well heading into the very collaborative creative industry.



09 Design to Dematerialise & Develop Systems & Services

10 Design Activism

The Community Makers project operates as a community of retired craft makers. These makers repurpose unused garments that are only kept for sentimental reasons (ie wedding and birthday dresses) from customers in their local community into functional items that can be integrated into the customers daily life. To bring Community Makers together, ‘Makers Workshop Events’ are held. Here, the Community Makers collaborate with local community groups (ie, schools, churches) to organise a group workshop in a local hall. Local school children and members of the community are invited to bring an item of unused clothing to repurpose using different traditional techniques. These workshops transfer this making knowledge to the new generation in a creative and innovative way.

The Makers Community is facilitated on a global scale through a website and app. Here local communities are encouraged to upload a short essay or video that demonstrates the kind of change they are making in their community. The Makers Community website is also an open forum that enables the organisation of local making workshops and for different communities to communicate and collaborate. The website also has open and interactive resources to help people start up and grow Community Makers in their own local community. This enables a new generation to understand the time and skill that goes into making a garment and also empowers them to take ownership of their clothing. This also reduces waste and creates new meaning through making and mending.




Kristen Meaclem Fashion Designer stories handcraft slow processes connection relationships



I set out to utilise the opportunity of having direct contact with Chinese students and learn about their perspectives on issues in the fashion industry such as sustainable design and what kind of factors influence their purchasing decisions. I wanted to come out with an informed awareness of the Chinese fashion industry through first hand experience and see how the Chinese design curriculum compares to New Zealand. Before I went to China I thought of China as the leading mass manufacturers of the world. I thought of their people as extremely hard working and selfless, driven to work hard in order to provide for their family and country rather than for personal gain. I thought of fashion activism as protesting and trying to raise awareness of the issues within the fashion industry. Upon visiting China, I realised slowing down fashion is not about coming up with new, more innovative designs, but reconnecting people with their clothing in order for them to become satisfied with less. The way we are living is having huge detrimental effects on our environment and the current capitalist system that relies on economic growth is certainly NOT sustainable.


In this project I learnt how stories help connect people to the clothing they own and this is what allows people to connect with material objects on a level that goes beyond fashion and trends. All too often this connection is absent. I also learnt how the Chinese students have a far more linear approach to design, where as we in New Zealand are pushed to think very conceptually. This project has motivated me to commit to buying no new clothing items (not even secondhand items) this year, as a way of proving to myself that purchasing new clothing is not essential to my overall wellbeing. I have become far more satisfied with less material objects in my life and I feel a lot lighter as a person. I have also committed to using only secondhand materials to create my final collection, which will complete my Bachelor of Design (hons) Fashion degree at the end of the year.



06 Design that Takes Models from History & Nature

07 Design for Ethical Production

The traditional handmade tiger shoes that I came across while visiting Chinese artisans in Xi’an inspired my project. Initially, I was drawn to them because of their cute and colourful appearance. However, it was the stories that accompanied them that intrigued me. Traditionally, a family member creates the tiger shoes for a child in order to protect them. The tiger is considered the king of all beasts and therefore can ward off any bad spirits, keeping the child safe. It is this kind of connection, which goes beyond superficial attachment, that allows people to build a better relationship with their clothing.

In collaboration with my Chinese partners, we used handcrafting techniques and aesthetics inspired by the tiger shoes to create our own embroidered clothing patches, each with personal significance. I wanted to explore how handcraft and the act of creating personalised objects can allow people to gain an appreciation for slow processes. As a result, this could lead to a reassessment of their relationship with fast, and ultimately disconnected, fashion.




Lachlan Philipson Visual Communication Designer pattern material generative activism



Before visting China I was personally very uninformed about fashion activism prior to the study tour. Major disasters such as the building collapses in Bangladesh had come to my attention, but I hadn’t made the cognitive link to these events and my own consumption of clothes. China was completely new territory for me as well. In high school, I studied Mandarin for one year. Even this small introduction was extremely helpful, as I had understanding of the tonal nature of the language. This paper has emphasised to me the need for designers to be sustainably minded in everything they envision and create. This is never more imperative in a fashion context. The designer has responsibility to the environmental, economic and social implications of the design, production, lifespan of a product. I was somewhat dismayed to hear the negative effects of the fashion design industry on so many parts of society. I am however in encouraged by the attitudes of my peers in China and New Zealand that indicate the emergence of a new type of designer. This is a designer who is driven by values-based decision making and strives to create the change they want to see in the world.


This project was a unique opportunity for me to engage with other students not just from other disciplines but an entirely different culture. The awesome thing about working with other people from a diverse range of backgrounds is not just that you might be able create things you wouldn’t be able to do by yourself but that you can create things you otherwise would not have even been able to imagine. The China Study Tour has affected me in a number of ways. Firstly, I am far more conscious of my purchasing decisions. I have almost exclusively purchased second hand clothes since returning from China. The trip also made me eager to travel more, to experience other cultures and explore their methods to tackling the next generation of problems facing today’s societies.


Matisse Mitchell Textiles Designer pollution awareness environment activism



I had previously travelled to China in 2012, it is a country that is rich in its culture, history and artistic diversity and I believe It is the country of the future. China is now the nation that is leading innovation and technology, and I knew this country would be a wonderful opportunity to explore Fashion Activism, which was a very new concept to me. This project has made me realise, as a young designer, just how important it is to design to improve systems of sustainability. I do believe that my generation is pushing a move from mass consumerism to minimalism and living a more sustainable life. Today China is recognised as an economic power house. Its future is as dynamic and diverse as the country itself. China has proven it can change and lead sustainable change.


This project has inspired me in my current fourth year honours project. My research aim is to explore how income inequality within New Zealand can be addressed through textiles. My project is key to my own personal experiences in life and my travels throughout different cultures. Alike to this project, I am creating activist design work that highlights statistics of inequality in a captivating way through the use of textiles.

From his project I gained a much deeper appreciation of how lucky we are to have New Zealand as our homeland. As my Chinese pairs told me, we are blessed to be in a country where clean air and clear water is something that we don’t even think twice about.



03 Design to Reduce Chemical Imapcts

10 Design Activism

Lachlan: The project Matisse and I created materialised as five patterns each a representing a day spent in Beijing digitally printed onto fabric. The patterns were generated using China’s air quality monitoring data as variables in a drawing algorithm. We aimed to create a piece that acts as a provocation; to generate discussion around the problems of air pollution caused by mass manufacturing and rampant consumerism. The final designs were created using a fashion designer’s toolbox. We used a polyester material that emitted toxic fumes went heated for the transfer print process. Although we used a method perfectly suited to mass production, each design completely unique and unrepeatable.

Matisse: It is so easy to turn a blind eye. It is in fact, far too easy. Our project was inspired by the five days we spent in Beijing and aims to confront the viewer with an art piece that reflects the startling levels of air quality pollution. Using my Textile Design knowledge and Lachlan’s Visual design skills our installation brings these issues onto a tangible surface that the audience can see, touch, smell and interact with. The prints have an organic flow, they move fluidly and loosely across the fabric to create awareness of the issues of consumerism and waste. Our project looks to spark discussion and make people question their surroundings as well as question their own impact on the environment.




Tom Pringle Industrial Designer storytelling craft process perspective knowledge


05 Design that Explores Cleaner/ Better Technologies

08 Design to Reduce the Need to Consume

Coming form an industrial design background I was keen to understand more about fashion activism. I looked into creating a platform for where sustainable design and practice can be discussed. ‘Made In China’ is a publication that basically looks into the how things are made. Appealing to Creative’s and consumers that want to get more information about items they consume. I want the reader to be able to understand what goes into every day products and what are the positive alternatives or ways of reuse. Its not just a magazine about recycling. It focuses on both on community and international processes/designs relating to sustainability. Before going to China I knew very little about Fashion activism and what it takes to produce everyday garments. I knew about the scale of manufacturing before heading over there but I still cannot comprehend the size once seeing it first hand. Fashion activism is more important than what I first though. The un needed wasted and the scale of this needs to be put into perspective. Our consumerist society produces so much waste and fashion design has historically not prioritised the impact of this. I believe that design is pivotal in solving such civic and societal problems now



and in the future. This project has heightened my interested in exploring what products can be produced using so called ‘waste materials’ from different production processes. Before heading to China I was unware how the majority of my clothing was produced. Having knowledge of where something comes from and the process it takes to get to you is key to making informed sustainable choices. Consumers need to see first hand where their products come from. There needs to be more insight into a products life cycle and the possibilities to reuse and repurpose it. Innovative and creative solutions to waste need to be openly shared. This project taught me that understanding and having knowledge of how your design is going to be produced is key into developing better solutions or processes. China has had a major impact on the way I think. Both culturally and from a design perspective. Being able to get a first hand look at the manufacturing process is such a valuable tool for any designer. This has positively reinforced my views on sustainable design and will show through future work.


“Using better technology” and “Reducing the need to consume” are the to aspects of design I wanted to look at incorporating this into the project. I aim to do this by demonstrating positive alternatives that are superior to the status quo. From an Industrial design perspective innovation is foremost important for developing cleaner and better technologies. These technologies open the door to work with new material and can cut the cost of production.

Industrial and fashion design historically have not reduced the need to consume but rather increased it. The notion that the more you buy the happier you are, has been created. As the the rate of consumption increases the quality of the products does not. This interests me morally, should we be developing design for longevity or designing for profit and fast turnover? Is there a compromise or a way of informing the consumer to make better choices through design?








Yoshino Marayuma Fashion Designer maker international origin marketplace alternative economies



Before visiting China, I was really interested to know about the cultural differences we had with the people in China. Especially in terms of ethical production and environmental consciousness. I was very keen to see and experience garment and other factories first hand. I had seen and heard a lot through research but to see it for myself would be a different experience. I set out wanting to know more about the flaws of the current system so I could find an alternative solution. I knew that educating people was a key aspect and therefore being able to talk to other students from similar disciplines in China was an exciting aspect of learning. I already knew that fashion activism was a space for change. It is a way to engage people in creative ways to make them think about their actions in relation to fashion, with focus on consumption. My image of China was polluted, populated and a powerful part of the global economy. I was not sure of what the country would be like but I knew there would be similarities to Japan. This project made me realise there are various design strategies in design activism. Many of the ideas from the Massey group and Chinese students


were great. However it is important for the people we are trying to make an impact on to continue caring about the issues we confront them with because if the effort by us and by them is not consistent, nothing will change. Sustainability in China was beginning to appear in the public. There was an article about clothing recycling bins that had started and the students from China were very aware of what was going on. However in terms of the big picture we are far from change and the idea of living a sustainable life and being conscious consumers seemed far fetched for a lot of the shoppers in the big cities. Different cultures and people value different things and this makes design activism difficult because people react differently to certain ideas. Looking into the future, this project gave me a more global awareness of what is going on in another part of the world. Pollution and destruction of nature may not be happening so much in New Zealand but it is very real in China. It showed me to be less selfish and care for a wider world. My Major Project this year encompasses elements of slow fashion and deeper thought about clothing, culture and identity.


How it works People pay a previous fee and sign up for the workshops they are interested in. Sign up on the day is available.

On the day the makers have their supplies ready and they will teach the customers their craft.

'hands on' making method you have paid material costs prior to the event to make something at a base level with the skill the makerss teach you.

What is gained? -learning a new skill -creating your own item -two way dialogue with maker

'hand on' knowledge session a talk about the history and demonstrations of the methods of practice. Makers can sell their own works as well.

What is gained? -learning about a craft -purchasing directly from the source -transparency of the craft and items

These valuable experiences will help consumers t h i n k b e f o r e t h e y b u y. T h e y w i l l l e a r n a n e w appreciation for what goes on behind the scenes. This will lead to a slower and more ethical consumer who will reject mass-produced and unethical items.

60 a new style of market place exchanging skill and knowledge for experience and product.

07 Design for Ethical Production

09 Design to Dematerialise & Develop Systems & Services

From this project I learnt that even if you’re on the other side of the world and grew up in completely different environments you are able to get along with people who share the same interest and ethics as you. This gives me hope for the future. My goal was to create a first-hand connection between the consumer and the maker. This will make the consumer appreciate the craftsmanship involved, make them more aware of the value of products and make them feel connected to their community and the wider world. This also gives an opportunity to the makers whose voices may not usually be heard. This two-way dialogue is important in creating an educated consumer. My initial project was an international market place where the stories of the makers were the focus. This was achieved by an interactive exercise where you fill in a story with a name of the country the product came from. This idea came from talking to my partner in Xi an and going to the local markets.

place where you consume things I want to create a market place where you gain skills instead. This is presented in the ‘How it works’ sheet. This method encourages a two-way dialogue between the consumer and maker. Instead of just seeing and purchasing items people can experience and gain knowledge in a more sensory way. Valuing the exchange of knowledge links to the idea of alternative economies and artisans themselves can participate and exchange knowledge with each other. The artisans would make their nationalities and where their materials are sourced from transparent. They will acknowledge the culture in which their craft or art comes from as well. This event is targeted at people who already have an existing interest in craft and markets but I would hope it would appeal to anyone who was looking for a handson experience and event. I think this would be successful in creating a conscious consumer.

When I finished my trip I was somewhat unsatisfied with my outcome. I thought that there needed to be more focus on communication and education. So I developed my idea further. Instead of a market 61

Dorothy Lee Fashion Designer awareness transparency connection root change



In this paper I aimed to get to the cause of the problem by focusing on activism, as the fashion system is an outer reflection of the inner condition of humanity, My objectives were to explore solutions for how I can creatively educate and spread awareness about the current fashion system to inspire a desire within others/consumers to create change. And furthermore, what we can all do to play our part in creating change. Throughout my fashion degree I focused on designing for sustainability and social change in the fashion system. However, I came to realise that my proposed solutions were temporary or superficial fixes beating around the bush of the problem and I wanted to get straight to the heart of it. This project confirmed for me my new ideas of approaching fashion, design activism and sustainability, and also made me dive deeper. As a fashion graduate who is now informed about the reality of the fashion system, my path is not to go out into the world and become a fashion designer in the mainstream fashion industry. If anything, my path now lies in informing others about the


reality of the fashion system, help them make the connection in their own lives and ask them to ask themselves where they stand, what they support and why.

The most significant thing I learnt and was opened up to was becoming aware about where China currently stands in relation to fashion, design activism and sustainability. Coming from a Chinese background, the pressure to conform without questioning the mainstream lifestyle and ideas is stronger in Chinese culture and this is present in their lesser awareness of sustainability as well as sustainability in general, let alone activism. Personally, I feel that only focusing on creating change in fashion exclusively is separating itself from all other areas of suffering going on in the world which are connected in that these problems grow from the same seed within humanity and need to be addressed as a whole to truly create change in a different direction. This seed stems from our understanding of what we are, the way we see ourselves in relation to the universe and the way we live our lives.


08 Design to Reduce the Need to Consume


10 Design Activism


Pania Tucker Fashion Designer cultural environmental craft tradition contemporary narratives



I was excited for the opportunity to travel to China and collaborate with designers exploring cross-cultural approaches to design activism and methods of understanding and communicating by engaging with students, to share ideas and thoughts on issues facing the fashion industry. Also to gain a better understanding of where China is at in terms of sustainability, the extent of understanding and what support is behind a more sustainable approach to fashion. Fashion activism before China. I was aware of the Slow Movement, Slow fashion and Slow Fashion Values as a sustainable fashion model. The idea of “Slowness� seems like a radical solution to rebalance an industry where everything seems to be on speed.


The China trip introduced me to the beautiful Chinese people, culture and country. It also exposed me to the severe pollution, waste and the ethical, social and environmental impacts caused by mass production. I believe a massive transformation of the Fashion industry is absolutely crucial for environmentally sustainability and to bring change to the ethical and social inequality widespread in the fashion industry. I learned that there is a lot more work still to be done to bring awareness and change and Fashion activism is a good vehicle for that change. China made me question whether I actually want to produce more shit for the world? I believe change has to happen from inside the industry. So it is here that I can have a strong voice for change and provide alternatives to the current unsustainable model of Fast fashion and mass production that is depleting and polluting our natural resources and exploiting workers.



08 Design to Reduce the Need to Consume

10 Design Activism

Design to last Design to keep Design for ethical production Design for a cleaner world. If you don't keep it for its lifetime don’t buy it If you can reuse or recycle it don’t buy it Stop the waste Stop the pollution Stop the over consumption Design for a simpler life and detox the future

Pania’s Manifesto


Megan Alexander Photographer

warrior sustainable feminism traditional change



I have always been highly focused on bringing awareness to world wide issues. Many of my photographic works are feminist statements on gender, and sexuality. Through out the duration of this paper I hoped to contribute my methods of promotion. I set out to document and communicate the issue of post-consumer waste and open eyes to sustainable and recyclable living. Prior to the China Study tour all I knew about China was what I had seen in movies the news and via Google images. While I had never focused purely on fashion activism, I was aware of the term and have considered many of my photographic works to be activist statements. The Zhànshi gongzhu cap was developed through design activism as a way of promoting environmentally sustainable living. It will encourage change by supporting recycling and upcycling of materials and therefore reducing post-consumer waste. It will also promote the art of hand-crafted superiority, inspiring consumers to purchase higher quality goods that will last, rather than cheap, mass produced crap. Through this project I have become more aware and supportive of slow and sustainable fashion but it hasn’t exactly changed my views, just made them clearer.


Through this assignment I learnt a lot about traditional and modern Chinese culture. I was especially involved in Chinese Women and the influence western culture creates through the media. The Zhànshi gongzhu cap was produced through the Female Gaze, as a female myself I designed this cap as a way of empowering the women wearing it. In particular I am interested in inspiring Chinese Women to feel strong and beautiful as they are, given the extent of western advertisement in the fashion industry. During my time in China I was endlessly inspired. Back in New Zealand I have started to use that inspiration and am currently working on publishing a book that will document my experience through the photographs I produced there. I was also motivated by the idea of sustainable fashion and I am currently working at Recycle Boutique, a second hand clothing store that sells on behalf of its custumers, encouraging others to give their used wearable goods a second life.



06 Design that Takes Models from History & Nature

10 Design Activism

This project will be created through design activism and will encourage change. This project will empower Chinese Women and Women as a whole. This project will be produced through the female gaze. This project will promote sustainable living through recycling of materials.


Maggie Meiklejohn Visual Communication Designer reuse convince promote challenge amuse


02 Design for Cyclability

10 Design Activism

As a Visual Communication Designer, I wanted to challenge opinions around second-hand clothing and inform consumers of the impacts of their purchasing decisions. I think that the most effective way to get people on board with ideas of sustainable and ethical living is to provide them with viable and desirable alternatives that are superior to the status quo. I created a campaign to educate our peers in China about the fastfashion system - challenging the superstitions and preconceptions of the quality and style of vintage clothes in a humorous and engaging way. I knew that the fast fashion system was having a pretty terrible impact on people and the planet and that films such as The True Cost and China Blue and organisations and people were trying to raise awareness and change this fact. I sensed that China would have very different ideas about sustainability than us and that it may be a challenge to find common ground. I thought it was crazy that second-hand clothes shopping is illegal in China and I found it sad that young people spent so much time in malls or shopping online for new things and then throwing them in the rubbish when they’re done with them.



My project aimed to communicate the human and environmental issues of the fast fashion system to our Chinese peers. My partner in Xi’an, Eva or Shin Tian Tian, dreams of opening a vintage store in her hometown so I hope that she can one day and we’ll go back and visit! I think governments, organisations and individuals will need to work together to make a substantial impact on the fast fashion system. I was amazed at the variety and quality of work that my fellow travellers, Chinese classmates and I created. I think it opened my eyes to the potential that we each have to make a meaningful and interesting contribution to sustainability efforts and the world in general. It’s given me a bigger picture view of the issues relating to fashion activism and also design in general – that we need to be people focussed, honest and authentic. In my spare time, I’ve been learning to make my own clothes from mostly second-hand fabrics and at uni, I’m continuing to explore ways of visually communicating sustainability ideas. My studio project currently is called sustainacool and is based on the idea of changing or challenging preconceptions around sustainable design.


Sustainacool is about finding harmony and selfsatisfaction through sustainable and ethical design and lifestyle choices. To be sustainacool is to be authentic, conscientious, empathetic and forgiving. What is practical, desirable or valuable for you right now may not be for others or for yourself in the future so we should try to contribute to the betterment of our planet and others in ways that personally and currently work for us. There will always be things that we could be doing better so focus on the positives and aim for a typically wholesome life and design practice.


Look after your mental health! Be optimistic, be nice to yourself and share your positivity with others.


Don’t be preachy! Sustainability is not a competition. It’s unethical and counterproductive to lecture others on how they should live. Support and encourage and be a goodie.


Make eco-friendly design accessible, desirable and inclusive to convince those who may not yet identify themselves as being eco-conscious.


Think big picture! Humans are social creatures. Maybe a slightly less sustainable design will appeal to more people than a very green thing – embrace the compromise, find the zen.

Here are some hot tips to being sustainacool:



Do it for you! Focus on setting our own standards for helping to make the world a little bit better. Be open to exploring new things, challenging yourself and refining and moulding your boundaries over time.


Research! If you’re skeptical about something (a process, material, company etc.) find out more about it to make informed and confident decisions.



Photo by Tom Pringle 83

Support References Education New Zealand, The Prime Minister’s Scholarship for Asia (PMSA), Education New Zealand, Level 5, Lambton House , 160 Lambton Quay, PO Box 12041, Wellington 6144 prime-ministers-scholarship-for-asia/ College of Creative Arts, Toi Rauwharangi, Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand https:// Space Between, School of Design, College of Creative Arts, Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand. Twitter - @TeamBetween Facebook - Instagram - @space_between

Chinese Universities Xi’an Polytechnic University, 242 Hansen Rd, JiaoDa ShangYe JieQu, Xincheng Qu, Xian Shi, Shaanxi Sheng, China, 710032 Shanghai Institute of Visual Arts, No. 2200 Wenxiang Road, Songjiang District, Shanghai. Postal: 201620. Tel: 67822500 home.aspx Academy of Arts & Design, Tsinghua University, Beijing. newthuen/ NZ Activities Zine workshop: Madeline Parker, Environmental Scientist/Zine Maker madeleine.parker4@gmail. com Rembrandt Clothing factory tour: Barbara Ingham, 226 Cambridge Terrace, Naenae, Lower Hutt 5011, New Zealand Earthlink Inc/Apparel tour: Shirley Cressy, CEO 22 Eastern Hutt Road Wingate Lower Hutt 5019 Mobile Media workshop: Dr Max Schleser, Senior Lecturer in Digital Media at College of Creative

Arts, Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand. Consumer psychology talk from a Chinese cultural perspective, Dr Fiona Chan, Researcher/lecturer at the School of Communication and Journalism at Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand. History of NZ clothing industry and outsourcing talk, Robertina Downes, Fashion lecturer, at College of Creative Arts, Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand. downes-robertina-398a8123/ References Busch, Von, O. 2013. Design Alternatives, Textile Toolbox. University of the arts London. http:// (Accessed 10 Janurary 2015). Fletcher, K. 2008. Sustainable Fashion & Textiles. Design Journeys. London: Earthscan. Fletcher, K., & Grose, L. 2012. Fashion and Sustainability. Design for Change. London: Laurence King Publishing. Fletcher, K. 2009. (accessed February 2, 2015). Fuad-Luke, A. 2009. Design Activism, beautiful strangeness for a sustainable world. London: Earthscan.

Fuad-Luke, A. & Strauss, C. 2008. The Slow Design Principles, A new interrogative and reflexive tool for design research and practice. Changing the Change (accessed June 6, 2014). Earley & Politowicz, (2010) TED’s TEN, http://www. February 2, 2015). Morgan, A., Ross, M., Siegle, L., McCartney, S., Firth, L., Shiva, V., Blickenstaff, D., ... Life Is My Movie Entertainment (Firm),. (2015). The true cost. Wood, J. Metadesign,. HomePage (accessed February 2, 2015)

Activism noun “Activism is about … taking actions to catalyse, encourage or bring about change, in order to elicit social, cultural and/or political transformations. It can also involve transformation of the individual activists.” pg 6 designactivism-beautifulstrangenessforasustainablewor ld_alastairfuadluke.pdf

Biography Jennifer Whitty is a sustainable design educator, researcher, designer, facilitator, writer and activist. Originally from Ireland, she teaches and practices at Massey University’s School of Design in New Zealand as Senior Lecturer of Fashion Design. She is focused on developing new green business models and systems for alternative ecologies of fashion practice, which are connected to and have an impact on society. She strongly believes in the positive aspects that fashion can impart to both the individual and to our culture. Jennifer is involved in taking action to harness this power and to catalyse change in the current system by developing alternative roles for the fashion designer through activism and social innovation.

Acknowledgements Thanks to everyone who helped organise, support and make this course happen, most notably: Claire Robinson, Pro Vice Chancellor, College of Creative Arts, Toi Rau Wharangi, Massey University, Wellington NZ Rebecca Sinclair, Associate Professor, Director - Academic, College of Creative Arts, Massey University, Wellington NZ Tim Croft, International Manager, College of Creative Arts, Toi Rauwharangi, Massey University Jennifer Whitty, Senior Lecturer, School of Design, College of Creative Arts, Toi Rauwharangi, Massey University. The Chief Executive and Scholarships Programme Manager, Education New Zealand, Level 5, Lambton House ,160 Lambton Quay, PO Box 12041, Wellington 6144. Dean of Fashion, Yan Yuan and Amanda Fu at Xi’an Polytechnic University, Xi’an. Will Shi and the International Office t Xi’an Polytechnic University, Xi’an. Du Ying, International Cooperation and Exchange Office, Academy of Arts & Design, Tsinghua University, Beijing. Dean of Fashion and Sara Shao, Fashion Lecturer/ International Coordinator, Shanghai Institute of Visual Arts, Shanghai.