Manifesto

Manifesto

1st January 2019

Planetary systems are under threat. Fashion and clothing products and activities contribute to the destruction of these systems. They also contribute to the increasing disconnection between humans and Earth.

We, the Union of Concerned Researchers in Fashion, recognise that the response of the fashion sector to the intensifying ecological crisis has been – and continues to be – over-simplified, fragmented and obstructed by the growth logic of capitalist business models as they are currently realized and practiced. Further we recognize that uncritical research findings, duplication of research, reduction and misuse of scientific and technical knowledge reinforces and speeds up this over-simplified condition in the fashion industry.

It is our view that concerned fashion and clothing researchers can no longer remain uninvolved or complacent and that as researchers, we need to conduct ourselves in new ways. We call on fashion researchers to unite for concerted action and leadership over the use of scientific and artistic knowledge that is more relevant to and commensurate with the multiple crises we face. For us this action requires both that something fundamental is disrupted and something significantly different is offered. We are committed to examining and accelerating the uptake of diverse ‘other ways’ in the fashion sector.

The Union of Concerned Researchers proposes to:

  1. Create an ‘activist knowledge ecology’, that is, to develop a system of knowledge about fashion sustainability that is concerned with how knowledge is organised and shared as well as the data points themselves, and to direct such a system purposefully towards fostering change;
  2. Advocate for whole systems and paradigm change, beyond current norms and business-as-usual. This includes rejecting overly-cautious economic, legislative and policy frameworks;
  3. Diversify the voices within fashion and sustainability discourse, to reflect multiple perspectives beyond the dominant business approaches presented, including but not limited to the global south and indigenous communities;
  4. Express our determined opposition to ill-advised and destructive fashion projects;
  5. Formulate visions—and corresponding research practices—that allow for the possibility of enacting new relationships between humans and Earth in the context of fashion;
  6. Take a leadership role in debating existing and new ideas and creating action around fashion-sustainability themes, especially in areas where the generation of new knowledge is of actual or potential significance;
  7. Devise means for turning research applications towards the underlying root causes of pressing environmental and social problems, including but not limited to climate change, wealth inequality, biodiversity loss, and plastic pollution;
  8. Organise, when determined desirable and feasible, fashion researchers to translate radical step change into effective political, and other, action;
  9. Review and revise, when deemed necessary, this manifesto.

Sign the manifesto here.

Oslo Local Assembly Communiqué

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Blogroll / Local Assemblies

On 11th September a group of around 40 people met in OsloMet University for a UCRF local assembly. Around 10 discussions took place around themes suggested by participants. A summary can be found below. In addition the Local Assembly put together a list of priorities for ‘here, now’. These were called the ‘Oslo Priorities‘:

  • Request that innovation funds fund post-growth projects.
  • Explore legal frameworks to incentivise staying small.
  • Recognise that responsibility for producers and users does not end when a garment is delivered to a recycling system.
  • Promote ecological literacy and basic practical skills (fibre literacy, use/wardrobe literacy)
  • In a regulated society like Norway, apply policy and legal frameworks for clothing and textiles to drive change.
  • International trade of new and used clothing and textiles requires regulations – use them.
  • Raise voices in political contexts.
UCRF Local Assembly Oslo. Image credit: Vilde Rydal Haugrønning

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Oslo Local Assembly + Seminar, 11th September 2019

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Activities / Blogroll / Local Assemblies

Join us for a gathering of Union members and other interested parties at Oslomet on 11th September in Oslo. Hosted by SIFO (Consumption Research Norway) and Oslomet and facilitated by Kate Fletcher, the Assembly will discuss urgent questions and issues around fashion and sustainability linked to UCRF’s manifesto. It will be organised using Open Space methodology.

The Assembly will be preceded by a seminar on fashion, design and sustainable consumption called Practices of Change.

Practices of Change speakers:
– Kate Fletcher (Professor at Centre for Sustainable Fashion) – Fashion, Food & Change
– Ingun Grimstad Klepp (Research Professor at Consumption Research Norway (SIFO), Oslomet) – 80 år med forskning på klær og mat til nytte for den norske forbruker. Bruk av kunnskap i endringsarbeid
– Else Skjold (Associate Professor at the Design School Kolding) – Sustainability in the Danish fashion education

Details:
11th September 2019; 12:30 – 15:30
Pilestredet 46 (P46); room: Athene 2 (PA110)
Oslo, Norway.

The event is free. But registration is required before September 4th here

UCRF at CFDA Education Summit 2019

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Activities / Blogroll / Local Assemblies

On June 17th, CFDA held its yearly education summit in NYC, this time on the lengthy theme of “Diversity + Inclusion. Regenerating + Maintaining. Sustainability + Circularity: Identifying Shared Needs and Priorities and Developing an Action Plan.”

Lynda Grose and Otto von Busch were invited to discuss the topic “Reflections on sustainability + circularity – where are we? Where do we need to be?” at the CFDA education summit in NYC. After a shared presentation and discussion, Lynda and Otto held a workshop on the theme with participants, where a sense of urgency around the topic was noticeable.

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UCRF Addendum to the report ‘Pulse of the Fashion Industry 2019 Update’

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Addendums to reports / Blogroll

In May 2019, the Global Fashion Agenda (GFA) published an update to the Pulse Report, a yearly report it first commissioned in 2017. The Union of Concerned Researchers in Fashion (UCRF) appreciates the value of regular evaluation of industry performance that the Pulse Updates seek to offer. The report works to illuminate to what extent efforts are genuinely working for the environment or if they are ‘business first,’ and it aligns with UCRF’s activities to drive change towards sustainability goals in fashion. This is critical in reaching, by now, a very uncompromising deadline of just over a decade to reverse catastrophic climate change (IPCC, 2018). In the light of the stark reality of the type and urgency of action on climate change, UCRF offers an Addendum to the report Pulse of the Fashion Industry 2019 Update; in which the UCRF highlights three areas which it considers are in need of further critical consideration. While UCRF appreciates the work and data the Pulse Reports make publicly available, it is the explicit goal of UCRF to facilitate critical discussion, civic engagement, and to change conditions in the area of fashion and sustainability, for the benefit of the whole population.

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Submission of Written Questions to Planet Textiles 2019 Conference

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Blogroll / Questions to conferences

We, the Union of Concerned Researchers in Fashion, recognize that the response of the fashion sector to the intensifying ecological crisis has been – and continues to be – over-simplified, fragmented and obstructed by the growth logic of extractive business models as they are currently realized and practiced.

As a group of concerned researchers, supported by more than 380 signees from institutions around the world, our view is that textile and clothing researchers can no longer remain uninvolved or complacent, and we need to conduct ourselves in new ways.

We therefore pose the following questions to Planet Textiles conference 2019. These questions are available to download as a pdf here. We do this because we are concerned about the level of marketing around sustainability themes currently prevalent in the fashion industry and the disconnect between front-facing messaging and back-end real change. We are concerned that if companies and organizations are not open to taking on difficult questions, those questions and the issues that prompt them will be missed and remain unattended to. Specifically we seek to examine three areas:

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