Make Thrift Mend is an art project focused on sustainable fashion, social practice, “art as action”, and reclaiming traditional garment-making skills. This project is also a “fast-fashion” fast that was active from August 1, 2013- August 1, 2014. Outraged by the factory collapse in Bangladesh in spring 2013 killing more than 1,000 workers; inspired by the NPR interview with Elizabeth Cline author of, Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion; and prompted by Natalie Chanin’s blog post regarding slow design–I needed something to change. I used this information to inspire a process-based art project that would allow me to engage with slow fashion, stage a personal artist’s protest, and delve deeper into the intersection of art, fashion, and sustainability.
From August 1, 2013- Augst 1, 2014 I committed to a fast-fashion fast. As part of my journey to resist the fast-fashion industry– and it’s unethical labor and ecological practices– I focused on making my own clothing, shopping for thrifted, vintage, and/ or used clothing, and learning the disappearing crafts of mending, darning, preserving and making garments. I did not buy any new clothing for one entire year. I took this investigation one step further by only buying used clothing that was made of natural materials (cotton, linen, wool, hemp, silk, etc) to reduce the petrochemicals in my closet. I shared my process on this website.
Throughout the year I offered DIY tutorials, created a resource list, attended workshops, hosted gatherings, and documented my garment making. I also secured an artist grant from the Puffin Foundation to offer a free online workshop focused on mending, natural dyeing, and supporting slow fashion. Upon completing the first year I realized I had just scratched the surface and committed to continuing my project for another year. Instead of abstaining from any new clothing from August 1, 2014- August 1, 2015 I would only purchase new clothing that was locally, independently, or sustainably designed and made. I would continue to focus on mending, thrifting, and making my wardrobe for another year.
After August 2015 I realized this project is an ongoing social practice art project focused on sustainable fashion, eco fashion advocacy, public programs including exhibitions and talks, and a series of mending workshops and slow fashion workshops at leading craft schools around the country. Follow my journey for inspiration, join my protest by declaring your own fast fashion fast, or work with me directly by signing up for one of my workshops in-person or online. I’d love the chance to meet you and strengthen the slow fashion community through our collective work.
For more information about my work, visit me here: