Culture, Clothing & Connections

A public program event for the RMIT Gallery online exhibition Skilled Hands, Shared Culture

‘Culture, Clothing & Connections: Exploring environmental, cultural and creative sustainability in fashion and textiles‘ is presented by RMIT’s Contemporary Art & Social Transformation (CAST) Research Group and RMIT Social Innovation Hub with RMIT Gallery, RMIT Vietnam and VICAS.

Considerations of ‘sustainable fashion’ often stops at material and technical approaches. In this panel conversation we explore the concept of sustainable fashion in a more holistic way – how ‘sustainability’ is not only linked to the environment, but the sustainability of culture, heritage and creative work. From merging traditional techniques with contemporary design, to innovative ways of keeping creative work viable in an insecure, Covid-normal world, our speakers explore the connections between culture, creativity and sustainability.

Host: Rimi Khan

Dr Rimi Khan is a Lecturer in the School of Communication and Design at RMIT University Vietnam. Her research is broadly concerned with creativity, citizenship and cultural economy. Her most recent work examines creative labour and ethical fashion economies in Asia. Her book, Art in Community: The Provisional Citizen (2015, Palgrave), examines the institutional and aesthetic agendas that make communities creative, cohesive and productive.


1. Vu Thao from Kilomet 109

Vu Thao is the founder and Design Director of a sustainable fashion brand from Hanoi, Vietnam, called Kilomet109. She’s a fashion designer by training and also a practicing textile artist. My art and design work focus on sustainable textile practices in contemporary Vietnam, have been exhibited around the world in prominent international art and design shows, university symposiums, and featured across multiple media channels.

She founded Kilomet109 in 2012 as a fashion label and social enterprise that blends contemporary design with traditional Vietnamese craftsmanship. Her work uses design innovation as a means of raising public awareness about at risk rural minority communities in Vietnam, and supporting the preservation of craft villages. Thao collaborates with communities of indigenous artisan women, representing different ethnic minority groups to create eco-friendly textiles and dyes that are incorporated into Kilomet109’s collections and art installations.

2. Aleksandra Nedeljkovic, Chief Operating Officer, The Social Studio

Aleksandra is a social impact executive who works at the crossroads of purpose-driven business, fashion and the arts. Focused on solving complex social problems through sustainable and ethical business practices, Aleksandra is the COO at The Social Studio, where she oversees the not-for-profit’s social enterprise arms, driving organisational capability, sustainability and impact.

The Social Studio empowers young people from migrant and refugee backgrounds to design their own futures by providing fashion and industry-based solutions to the main barriers they face upon arriving to our community: unemployment, isolation and difficulties accessing education and training. The Social Studio does this by creating jobs, providing education opportunities, encouraging community engagement and fostering social inclusion.

3. Léuli Eshrāghi

Dr Léuli Eshrāghi (Sāmoan, Persian, Cantonese) works across visual arts, curatorial practice and university research. Ia intervenes in display territories to centre Indigenous kin constellations, sensual and spoken languages, and ceremonial-political practices. Through performance, moving image, writing and installation, ia engages with Indigenous futurities as haunted by ongoing militourist and missionary violences that once erased faʻafafine-faʻatama from kinship and knowledge structures.

Ia contributes to growing international critical practice across the Great Ocean and North America through residencies, exhibitions, publications, teaching and rights advocacy. Eshrāghi is a board secretary of the Indigenous Curatorial Collective, the inaugural Horizon/Indigenous Futures postdoctoral fellow at Concordia University, a member of The Space Between Us SSHRC research partnership (2020-28) led by Dr Julie Nagam, and an affiliate member of the Wominjeka Djeembana research lab at Monash University led by Dr Brian Martin.

Bookings via this Eventbrite link

Image credit: Courtesy of The Social Studio, Art Comes First and Grace Dlabik.