Subcultures, especially youth ones, use fashion as a way of demolishing stereotypes, and London is a city where subcultures are always thriving, allowing for an exploration of fashion and gender as concepts.
The main goals of shemakes are innovation in design, gender equality and nurturing female business. Arriving in London as a shemakes Ambassador, I felt like this is the right place for such an endeavor. Subcultures, especially youth ones, use fashion as a way of demolishing stereotypes, and London is a city where subcultures are always thriving, allowing for an exploration of fashion and gender as concepts.
My assigned lab, The Centre for Circular Design, is situated in the University of the Arts London in Chelsea amongst other labs and studios that buzz with ideas, energy and creativity. The activities we carried out, jointly designed by shemakes, CCD and myself, were hosted in the main space of the Centre. A beautiful sunny space with big windows overlooking the street where swatches, samples, artifacts and other workshop results are spread around.
CCD aims to accelerate the transition towards designing for a circular future by focusing on processes and materials that are visible and tangible through project results and several books that they have published. This space does not have machines like some labs I’ve visited, but the team’s amazing research is developed using machines in other locations in the university when necessary.
While I was there and in cooperation with the local team, I led a Gender Futures workshop and assisted in the Gender Vision workshop. Gender Futures was a three-hour speculative design research workshop on gender and its manifestation through clothes, and it is done by applying the principles of world building. The workshop raises awareness on gender biases and empowers self-expression and personal vision; it empowers women to express their visions and open up the discussion to the system of clothing. Introducing the participants, who were textile grad students, to the methodology of world building led to interesting observations on how shifting preconceptions on gender would alter society, industry and consumption standards. Questions like how clothing reflects gender and vice versa, and how clothes expose us or keep us safe fed a lengthy open discussion.
In the Gender Visions workshop, which was led by Sanne Visser, a diverse mix of female entrepreneurs, textile educators, artists and designers were invited and encouraged to explore and discuss challenges faced within the textile design and fashion industry as a female. In both workshops, roles preconceived as feminine, female leadership and caregiving were discussed.
Being a shemakes ambassador has been an enriching experience which helped me focus on the gendered reality of a female designer and allowed me to meet really interesting female designers, students and entrepreneurs. Shemakes is a vibrant and empowering community where knowledge and inspiration is openly shared and I am more than happy to have been part of it.
Photo Credits #1-3: CCD
Photo Credits #4-6: Angela Tozzi @angelatozziphotos