If you live in London you’ll already be aware of the ridiculous costs of renting studio space. It only gets worse when you finally find one you can afford and six months later the landlord is forced to increase the price or some new corporate giant fancies building new luxury apartments there. As part of Fashion Revolution this year, we were lucky enough to be invited to an incredible event hosted by the recently launched textile arm of Building Bloqs, which we proudly sponsored. We spoke to Al Parra who, along with four contemporaries, was no stranger to these problems in London, “When we lost the lease on our workshop we faced the same challenges as many and set out to build a new approach to space, resources and community”. So together, Al, Alex Motta, Arnaud Nichols, Avninder Nanray and Julien Thomasset joined forces and Building Bloqs was born.
It’s a special space and a perfect place to do practice-based work, be it textiles or metals, paint or wood this workshop has it all. London College of Fashion graduate Alis Le May, helped set up the textile side of things at Building Bloqs. Alis, having recently graduated, no longer had access to machinery and studio space essential for her own growth and business development, so she too joined the group to solve the problem… and succeed they did! Not only does Building Bloqs have state of the art equipment but they also offer a pay-as-you-go payment options too (“without the fixed overheads”).
The Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh (and others which have not made headlines here), in which more than 1100 people died and 2500 others were injured, was the catalyst of Fashion Revolution Day. Originally one day filled with inspiring awareness raising and fund-raising events, this year the “day” turned into a week, and rightly so. The Building Bloqs Fashion Revolution event was a night of beautiful collaboration, tackling an important global issue along with meaningful discussions from inspirational minds (not to mention the best array of homemade canapés and cocktails too!)
Many moons ago people paid (what I call) a ‘proper’ and sustainable price for their clothes. So when they became damaged, they would happily set about mending their prized possessions. These days, consumers have moved towards a reliance on fast fashion – but we can still create new ways of sustaining this luxury, the people behind it, and our planet. The evening at Building Bloqs was about reclaiming these ‘throw away items’ and repurposing them. Referred to as “The Upcycle Project”, over just two days some of London’s most talented students created garments made from textile ‘waste’ that would otherwise have headed to landfill. Materials used included leftover fabric cut-offs, sneaker mesh, plastic tags for pricing garments, upcycled denim, t-shirts, and leather. The garments created were as powerful as they were unmistakably innovative, made using unique and experimental materials as well as new techniques!
The designers incorporated many tag lines, such as:
“Why waste, what4”
“I was just tortured, murdered, eaten, worn”
“High cost, low price”
“Loved not Landfill”
“We can do better”
“Knock-offs not on”
“50 bloody cents”
“If it’s broken fix it”
The lineup of the industry experts who got involved was completely enviable. Tutors included Orsola De Castro (From Somewhere & Fashion Revolution), Katie Jones (Katie Jones Knitwear), Alex Noble (Traid Remade), JJ Hudson (Dr Noki) and Brandy Nicole Easter (From Somewhere and Brandy Nicole Easter). The final designs created by talented students were original in composition and literally mind-blowing!
The garments will be professionally photographed then auctioned to raise money for the awe-inspiring fashion revolution. You can join the movement by simply showing and asking your favourite brand (tagging on social media with “@brandname) or any brand #whomademyclothes.
Be a sheep or be a part of a revolution!!
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