A group of social innovators aiming to tackle the issues of fast fashion and synthetic clothing through organizing hands-on upcycling workshops, repair cafés, seminars and an upcoming second-hand platform. Follow our journey!
Our journey started in October 2019. From the beginning, we knew we wanted to start looking in to the problem of synthetic clothing and fast-fashion. Our first meetings were mostly brainstorming about what the problem really is, where it originates from and what we could possibly do to minimize the environmental burden that the fashion industry is currently causing.
When we had identified the problem, we started to look into possible solutions. At this point, we had several possible solutions. One of them was developing an environmentally friendly material that could replace synthetic or semi-synthetic materials on the market. We also talked about the existing alternatives for fast fashion, and agreed that internationally there are options, but in Geneva slow fashion was not that accessible yet. During the first weeks until mid-October, we focused on doing bench-marking about what's already out there and what would still be needed. Finally, we wanted to focus on creating a new material while developing a platform for secondhand clothing.
After having analysed our ideas a bit further, we were lucky enough to get consultation from Thomas, José and Julien regarding our project. They helped us realize that our scope was too big and we needed to narrow down our problem, and therefore to either focus on the material or the platform.
In order to help the decisionmaking, we created a questionnaire for our cohort. The main idea of the questionnaire was to analyse the students' interests and opinions regarding the two options.
In the following weeks, we started to work on our framework. We focused on our theory of change, and asked ourselves, what could be the triggering events for our project? How are we doing? Taking a look back, we could see what has already changed and analyse the direction to which we were heading. We created a roadmap and decided that an online community would not be enough, but that we would want to incorporate offline community building to our projects through regularly organised hands-on workshops.
Next thing we needed to do was to divide the different roles and responsibilities for our group members. This allowed us to go further in to the planning of the platform and the workshops, as well as start the networking with the local actors and initiatives. Moreover, we had a meeting with Louise and Odey, which gave us additional insight about our next steps.
On Thursday, we got an interesting visit from Tanya, who came to talk to us about how to improve communication and pitching. We continued to work on the website prototypes with a programme called "JustInMind". Adán also contacted Sipy, who organises swapping events in Geneva and Lausanne, to find out whether they would be interested to collaborate with us.
The following day we mainly focused on tracking progress and outcomes for our project so far, as well as worked further on the website prototypes. We also tried to create an actual website with Wordpress, but noticed soon that the templates weren't really what we were looking for.
We also brainstormed possible names for our team, and came up with "The Loop". However, soon after we found out that there's already at least one organisation with the same name.
In addition, we created an initial budget for our first pilot workshop, talked about what we want to reach with it, decided the maximum amount of participants we would like to attend as well as who we would like to come as external speakers and experts. We also decided to organise it on Tuesday the 3rd of December, since it allowed us with more time for the planning but anyway get results before the final pitch. On the 1st of November we also pitched our platform prototype for the first time.
We came back from our reading week well rested and more motivated than ever. On the 13th of November, we met with Mallory, who is a PhD researcher looking into waste reduction and works with the GTI. She was very supportive about our idea and thought that an online platform would be very helpful. She further organised us a meeting with Dorinda from Zero Waste, and asked us to develop a clear proposal for the meeting. Stephen also went to meet Sipy in one of their events, and they were also interested in meeting us to discuss more.
During this week, we also created an FB-event to invite our cohort to our first workshop. Furthermore, we contacted several relevant slow fashion-related actors around Geneva to find out who would be interested in attending our event. In addition, we spend a lot of time looking into theory about community and relationship building in order to create assumptions regarding various factors that we could later test in the first workshop. Based on our research, we decided to create 3 surveys, one that participants would answer in the beginning of the workshop, one for after the workshop and one follow-up, to see how the participants' expect their behaviour to change and whether they acted accordingly afterwards.
This week we did great progress. On the 20th of November, we met with Mallory and Dorinda from Zero Waste, and got amazing feedback for our project. Dorinda highlighted the importance of consecutive workshops and offered to promote our workshops in her own network. The next morning we had a Skype meeting with Jamil who is a network responsible for Fashion Revolution Switzerland. He gave us some valuable insight for community building and organising events around slow fashion. Some of the tips were for example making the event aesthetic for the participants, combining relationship building with learning, trying not to overdo the event and making it relaxed so that people have the opportunity to breathe a little and share ideas between each other. He also suggested we put up some Fashion Revolution posters at the workshop and also talked about the pros and cons of organising informal respective formal events. He also put us in contact with Jeanne, the coordinator for Fashion Revolution in Geneva.
Moreover, one of our teaching assistants also volunteered to help out in our workshop through showing the participants different ways to upcycle their old textiles. We further elaborated the ideas we had for the workshop, and came up with a more precise structure for the evening;
18.30 Our own introduction
18.40 External speakers from different second hand stores and events, and hopefully from Zero Waste and Fashion Revolution
19.00 Hands-on activities start with 20-25 min on each station: 1) Repair station both with sewing machine and by hand 2) Upcycling station with Helen 3) Customization at FabLab
20.00 Sum up session and apéro
Moreover, we planned to make a video of the workshop to be able to use it in the final pitch, and to prepare individual sewing kits for each participant so that they would have the tools required to later benefit from the skills and knowledge they gain during the workshop. We also prepared the surveys with questions related to fast and slow fashion, and the participants' current behaviour, knowledge and skills.
On Friday morning we met with José to talk about how to develop our project further. He encouraged us to aim to quantify the results in order to really measure behavioural change, and to create a clear budget in order to get funding from the SDG accelerator. José also adviced us to gather data from e.g. Fashion Revolution about growing second hand sales, and explained us more about the SDG accelerator board.
In the afternoon we continued to work on the theory, prepared a flyer for te workshop, created an instagram account and customized email addresses for our team.
The following Monday our whole team travelled to Lausanne to meet with Sipy. In addition to getting extra textiles we could use for our workshop, we spend a great evening getting to know eachother and talking about future collaborations.
This week was dedicated for our final preparations before the workshop. We prepared the goodie bags and other materials, printed out flyers, planned the decoration and other details. On the 26th we also had the chance to meet Jeanne from Fashion Revolution, and she gave us feedback for our project. She also presented her own brand and suggested that we would host some workshops during the Fashion Revolution week in April.
On the 3rd of December we finally organised our first slow fashion workshop. We spent the afternoon preparing the spage, drinks, food and materials as well as defining roles between ourselves. This way we could stay organised for who would welcome the participants, who would make sure there are snacks and drinks available all the time, who would be vlogging the event and who would manage the overall structure. In the end, our roles should have been even more clearly defined and the rotations didn't work since people would rotate whenever they felt like it or some even stayed at the same stations for the whole evening. Moreover, the guest speakers took 20 minutes longer than we had expected. In conclusion, there are many aspects we need to work on for the next workshop, but overall the event was quite successful and everyone seemed to have fun!
This week was mostly focused on finalising the pitch and starting to work on the final report. After our pitch, we had a chance to meet with Eva Marie Vestergaard from ITC. She had earlier been researching fashion and colonisation, and she even invited us to host a workshop at ITC in the end of January.