Shirley Mclauchlan is a lecturer in the Textile department here at Edinburgh College of Art (ECA). In the following article, she reflects on her trip last month to Shanghai International College of Fashion and Innovation.
Recently I was delighted to be invited to be part of an international research group exploring sustainable fashion at Shanghai International College of Fashion and Innovation (SCF), Donghua University, China.
The invite was extended by ECA senior lecturer and SCF International Dean Dr Juliette Macdonald, and Professor Zhong Hong of Donghua University, home to the SCF. Other group members included academics from AMFI (Amsterdam Fashion Institute), Lasalle College of the Arts in Singapore, Donghua and ECA.
My visit included museum visits, presentations from sustainable companies on current sustainable practice in Shanghai and many group discussions with academics.
I was also invited to give a talk on my practice and a follow-up workshop.
My workshop, entitled ‘Personal Mending’, was held in the Shanghai Textile Museum. Initially the workshop was intended for ten students but demand was so high I ended up with over 30!
The audience for this optional event was mainly first year fashion students but SCF staff and academics from AMFI and Lasalle also came along.
There was a very special exchange of skills with academic staff working alongside first year students. At that point there were no barriers, only a love of stitching.
Over the course of the two-hour workshop, we explored hand stitching as a skill in the context of some key aspects of sustainable design with regards to product longevity and personalised mending.
All the fabric for the workshop was excess from my own studio practice (Ayrshire wool blankets).
Almost all of the students had never sewn before so we explored some simple hand stitches. The students set about stitching with much keenness. We discussed sustainable design and the importance of mending and valuing this hand skill. The concentration during the class was intense, as we say, you could hear a pin drop.
The exchanging of knowledge happened in a very informal manner but we’ve made the future connections for the next stage of this research project.
We are currently planning what digital platforms can be used to help students exchange their knowledge across the research group institutions. Eli Appleby-Donald, ECA Learning Technologist, is lending her technical expertise.
An additional outcome of the workshop has led to further discussion on collaboration with different institutions, resulting in another visit to Shanghai in April 2020 with an exhibition of current student work demonstrating sustainable fashion design.