Fashion is enticing, playful, consumable and therefore lucrative. As an industry it has a darker reputation that lurks behind the cheap clothes and sale signs luring in customers.
The RMIT Gallery/Goethe-Institut’s new exhibition Fast Fashion: the dark side of fashion (running until 9 September) strips away the glamorous veneer and exposes the brutal reality of the social, economic and environmental impacts of the low-cost garment industry.
In response, the exhibition’s Slow Fashion Studio provides an upbeat response, exploring new fashion practices and experiences to bring about positive change, featuring exciting new work from practitioners at RMIT ‘s School of Fashion and Textiles.
Bookings for free guided tours for school, university and community groups are now being taken. Please contact RMIT Gallery on (03) 9925 1717.
The following education resource material may be useful for your visit.
As you move through the exhibition, note down your thoughts and reactions to the issues presented. Below is a list of questions about some of the exhibits in the show.
When you get to each of these, read these questions and write down your responses while you are in front of the work.
Main room: LEFT WALL: Fashion and Consumption
- Read the discussion of fashion and consumption.
- What are your thoughts on what it says?
- Do you agree with everything?
- Look at the mannequins: Before you read the labels for the rotating mannequins, which do you think is the fast fashion outfit and which is the haute couture outfit?
- Did you get it right?!
- Why do you think these three garments are in the exhibition?
Side gallery: (painted black) Fashion and the Environment
- What here is new information to you?
- What alarms you?
- What does the exhibition tell you about the solutions being developed to these problems?
Main room: REAR WALLS: Fashion and Economics ‘PEPE’ Photos by Paolo Woods of Haitian people wearing second hand slogan t-shirts.
- Where do these t-shirts come from?
- What are the associated ethical issues?
‘DEATH OF A THOUSAND DREAMS’ Photos by Talisman Akter
The Rana Plaza factory collapse was a tragedy on a huge scale. What did the fashion industry do in its wake to prevent it happening again?
Watch this 4 Corners report ‘Fashion Victims’ Which discusses the tragedy from an Australian context.
VIDEO OF RECYCLING- describe the recycling process shown – and ‘CLOTHING RECYCLED’ Photos of recycling in India by Tim Mitchell
What is being recycled and how? Are the processes chemical? Mechanical? Automatic? Manual?
Many fibres (synthetic and natural), can be successfully recycled, yet garment recycling is not widespread.
What are the challenges faced when recycling clothing?
MAP OF COUNTRY OF ORIGIN LABELS
Current clothing labelling is inadequate to explain the true origin of a garment. Why? What would be a better system, do you think?
Slow Fashion Studio (2 rooms, accessed from the entrance hall at the side of the front desk)
RE-MANUFACTURE REPAIR WORKSHOP by Tania Splawa-Neyman
- Have you ever had a garment repaired by someone else? A family member or did you visit an alterations service?
- Can you repair clothes yourself? Who taught you to do this?
- Have you ever discarded clothing in need of repair? How?
‘OUTFIT FROM THE LIVING WARDROBE’ by Jo Cramer shows how designers could design everyday fashion to last longer through durability and versatility.
- Do you have any garments that do these things?
- Describe them. Do you have any garments you wish you could alter to fit better?
- Why can’t you alter them?
- 3 DRESSES BY GEORGIA MCCORKILL What comment is Georgia making about local manufacture?
- Concluding thoughts: This worksheet has focused on some of the exhibits.
- Look closely at the others as well and note down your thoughts. If someone asked you to define ‘fast fashion’, what would you say?
- From looking at the slow fashion studio, what do you understand slow fashion to be?
- What’s the most significant thing that stood out to you in the exhibition? What’s missing from the exhibition?
- What’s the exhibition’s message to young people such as yourself?
- What are you wearing when you are not in school uniform? Think about what you wore on the weekend. Where is the outfit you wore on Saturday night from? How many times have you worn these garments? Are they favourites? How do they make you feel?
- On trend? Comfortable? Invisible? Beautiful?
- What’s the story of each piece? Don’t know enough???
Thank you to participating artist and lecturer Jo Cramer for use of this material by schools.
Fast Fashion: The dark side of fashion (running at RMIT Gallery until 9 September) is presented in collaboration with the Goethe-Institut and RMIT School of Fashion and Textiles.
Fast Fashion is curated by Dr Claudia Banz at the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe in Hamburg and supported by Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt and Karin Stilke Stiftung.
BOOKINGS FOR FREE GUIDED SCHOOL TOURS: RMIT GALLERY (03) 9925 1717