News from the first Wiki Editathon

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Activities / Blogroll

Editing the sustainable fashion Wikipedia page brought together nine signatories of the Union of Concerned Researchers’ manifesto on Tuesday 26th February. Four from Europe were able to communicate through a chat room, and the five New Yorkers saw each other in the flesh. There was laughter as well as many conversations about how to go about editing. Barely anyone had any experience of editing a Wiki and the page was in need of a good clear out, restructure and edit. Walking the line between being respectful of the work of previous contributors and creating a page that is up to date, coherent and accurate is a tricky one to balance. The task felt overwhelming initially, so starting with small baby steps seemed to be the way to begin.

Once we got used to the system, it became easier to see where we might contribute and we got stuck in. There is still a lot of work to do. The cultural concerns section remains empty and there are some sections that need to be re-ordered for the page make sense. There are other sections that will probably need adding, and others need updating. For example, the separate page on “Sustainable clothing” adds to the general confusion and needs to be merged somehow with the “Sustainable fashion” one. And not least, not only does the English page need more global perspectives and voices on sustainable fashion, but as we worked we also noticed that the pages in non-English languages could be improved. We would encourage and support initiatives on editing these pages too.

Nevertheless, it was an exhilarating experience at times, adding knowledge-led analysis and citations into what for many is the primary source of information about the field. Not only that, but doing it as a collective effort, connecting with other Union signatories along the way, felt very rewarding. Having a task to complete together helped strengthened our bonds and commitment to bringing the UCRF manifesto alive. We are in the process of planning the next Wiki editathon…

Liz Parker & Otto von Busch


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The Union’s first collaborative action is now underway!

On 26th February 2019 between GMT 15:00 – 22:00, a group of volunteers from the Union signatories are jointly editing Wikipedia’s sustainable fashion pages.

We are frustrated that too often work is replicated in the area of fashion and sustainability, and we summise that this is perhaps because people don’t know about what has gone before. To combat this our goal is to sharpen and extend the Wikipedia entry in line with #1 of our manifesto:

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.

I signed this manifesto because…

About the Union

The Union of Concerned Researchers in Fashion’s founding document is its manifesto. This, our rallying call to like-minded individuals, invites people to support the Union by putting their name to the manifesto and saying why these actions matter. Their responses speak volumes. Here is a flavour of them:

“I worked in the apparel industry for 25 years and saw first hand the manufacturing processes, supply chain realities and consumer habits. They need to change.”

“Look deep in your soul, step outside yourself, there are no new seasons in the abyss.”

“As an undisciplined researcher, I support this initiative that values pluralism in the forms of research to favour the care of Planet Earth and its creatures, and that, in this case, from the field of fashion, supports initiatives that values the thoughts and feelings of indigenous traditions and their worlds and the Global South. Also out of respect and affinity with the ideas of several of my colleagues who signed this Manifesto before me, I identify myself with the meaning of fashion as a verb that implies: to elaborate in particular ways.
I do care!”

“Incremental change is not enough.”

“The researchers around the world DO need to get more organised (and less competitive to each other!). Key to success lies in bringing all different competences to the table, so that the compiled strength clearly address ALL aspects of fashion. No more only Designers, no more technology and chemical scientist operating in silos, let’s include the LCA folks and so on.”

“Because going toward that Transformation mainly means that we must begin to consider Sustainability in relation to Solidarity. Because without Solidarity with all human beings, we won’t be able to “sustain” any new model of prosperity in which the use of our planet’s resources and the redistribution of wealth are commensurate with the increase in the world’s population, allowing for placation of the turmoil and wars that are presently igniting too many parts of the world.”

“Fashion has become unfashionable.”



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.