The Project

Sustainability can emerge from a wealth of simple interactions. In fashion it has potential to flow not only from the design and production of clothes, but also from the choices all of us make, as users, on a daily basis: how we select, wear, care for and connect with our garments. As such, opportunities to transform the sustainability potential of clothes are widely distributed throughout the population and not just reserved for designers, production managers or the fashion cognoscenti. They happen with each new improvisation, way of wearing and with every service of needle and thread in homes in far-flung corners of every nation; often far away from catwalks or business agendas.

The Local Wisdom project seeks to recognize and honour a user’s ‘craft’. Such practices often fall outside industrial or commercial ideas about what sustainability is or should be, emerging instead from the culturally embedded ‘wisdoms’ of thrift, domestic provisioning and care of loved ones, among other things. These acts are the essential companion to fashion design and production; for designing and using form a single whole. They typically need little money or materials to make them happen; but tap into an abundance of experience, ingenuity and freethinking. Here an individual’s interests meet with those of society and nature and create conditions for a more satisfying use of resources. This project captures and celebrates some of this ‘local wisdom’, giving it a platform to flourish and inspire.

The images and stories gathered by this project document micro-scale social innovation in fashion. They give expression to differences in power relations, ways of behaving, material status and emotional connection and give us small, specific working prototypes of grassroots change.

Photography: Sean Michael

Subpages (1): LW Berlin