image from style.com taken at the save the garment center rally 10.21.09As you may have read on earlier posts, I recently attended the American Craft Council Conference in Minneapolis because I believe that garment making is a craft. The combined skills of draping, patternmaking, cutting, and sewing or each on its own, are skills that can only be mastered with time and practice. These skills, like many other trades, are not valued like they used to be. Globalization has moved garment production out of the United States, searching for cheap labor outside our borders. As recently as 1965, 95% of American clothing was made in the US, today 5%. Environmental and social degradation aside, we are also losing "the craft". As Dr. Sennett so eloquently points out, modern capitalism rewards mediocrity and discriminates against craftsman. There are countless (and would I love to do that count) unemployed master craftspeople without work, who may be aging and have little means of teaching the next generation. If this interests you, HBO on demand SCHMATTA and check out The Sundance Channel's, Full Frontal Fashion Series, The Day Before. The atelier scenes make me cry.
Inspired by the Minnesota Center For the Book Arts, Highpoint Center for Printmaking, Northern Clay Center etc. I envision,
A Center For the Advancement of Garment Making
(official title tbd)
Anyone want to join me?
First draft of a vision/mission statement inspired by the MCBA:
The Center for the Advancement of Garment Making celebrates fashion as a traditional craft, vibrant contemporary art form and means of providing nourishing employment. From the traditional crafts of pattermaking, draping and sewing, to experimental art making, CAGM supports the limitless creative evolution of garment engineering.
CAGM will be established in the year 2012 in the generously gifted, historic building in downtown Manhattan as a lively destination for a diverse public interested in the craft of garment making, and the American fashion industry.
The soul of CAGM is the studio spaces where you find masters and novices draping, patternmaking, sewing, hand finishing and engineering muslins into beautifully finished garments. In addition to the studios, there is an exhibition space, a studio shop, an archive, reference library, and offices. Visitors are welcome to observe the activity and work close-up. CAGM serves artists, students, teachers, designers, and fashion lovers through a variety of participatory programs.
The mission of the Center for the Advancement of Garment Making/Slow Fashion is to preserve the traditional crafts of garment making, re-establish American fashion as vital domestic cultural industry/asset, re-introduce the American public to the process of garment making, inspire and incubate diverse craftspeople and learners and engage audiences in educational, and creative experiences.
CAGM will serve as a vital craft resource for a diverse public audience and will make valuable and important contributions to the American Fashion community’s cultural depth and economic health. CAGM will respond to current industry challenges facing it by focusing on its mission and three strategic goals: skill preservation, sustainable business development (social, environmental and financial) and acceleration of public consciousness public education.
Disclaimer: This isn't an organization to bring down big corporate fashion companies, rather to give craftspeople or aspiring craftspeople the opportunity to do the work that nourishes them, preserve skills, and re-value garments and the people that make them. It is my hope that we can work side by side and/or in collaboration with one another.
The "Parts" of the CAGM:
- 5 to 10 students a year fully or partially funded in apprenticeship-like program. Students take classes in draping, patternmaking, sewing, fashion history, sustainable design taught by master craftspeople and other esteemed fashion professionals.
-Small business entrepreneur incubators that focus on financial literacy.
-4 artists in residence in the fields of illustration, photography, design and textile arts. Work collaboratively with each other and students.
-Workshops and short term classes
-Small boutique/atelier with work (garments, patterns, kits, art, materials, custom pieces etc.) for sale from students and artists in residence. Online and/or brick and mortar depending on space available.
-Public membership program.