by MIKE CHAIKEN
The revolution might not be televised. But it will strut down the catwalk in an act of solidarity.
A Fashion Revolution, if you will.
According to a press release from Danbury’s Workspace Collective, “Fashion Revolution is a global movement calling for greater transparency, sustainability and ethics in the fashion industry. Fashion Revolution Week is the #whomademyclothes campaign in April, which happens at the time of the Rana Plaza factory collapse, where 1,138 people were killed and many more injured on April 24, 2013.”
“We’re translating this concept at Workspace Collective by celebrating the designers and makers at Workspace Collective, who provide us with the highest quality products, made by hand and using clean design processes,” said the news release.
In an email interview, Meagan Cann, the founder of Workspace Collective–a retail and design co-op at 287 Main Street in Danbury—said she organized the local event because, “Knowing that Fashion Revolution is a global movement calling for greater transparency, sustainability and ethics in the fashion industry, I wanted to share with our community that very important concept, and how we run on that ethos here at Workspace Collective. I felt inspired to utilize this global event to shed light on our own designers and makers.”
On Friday, in honor of the Fashion Revolution, Workspace Collective will host a fashion show.
“Through our designer lineup, we will be facilitating the connection between customer and designer,” explained Cann. “While designers and makers will be demonstrating their work, customers can ask questions such as what materials are being used, sourcing procedures, inspirations, and whatever else comes to mind. It truly facilitates that element of transparency, sustainability and ethics held by Workspace Collective and the core ideals of the Fashion Revolution.”
Featured at Workspace Collective on Friday are:
Xoli Ngcoza, who creates knit pieces (hats and scarves for winter, tops and shoes for spring, summer. She is from Ridgefield, Conn.
Julissa Cadena of Julissa Designs, who creates clothing that is locally designed and produced. She is from Danbury, Conn.
Michele Counihan of Mikki Mikki Art Jewelry, who creates hand made jewelry from unique, cultural beads. She is from Brewster, N.Y.
Billy Neville, who creates woodwork, all of the fixtures in the shop, clothing fixtures, jewelry stands as well as wood burns coasters and other lifestyle pieces. He is from Danbury, Conn.
Crystal Keeler, who is a soapmaker, using natural and organic ingredients. She is from Carmel, N.Y.
Erin Shaw, who creates unique jewelry using natural stone, lava rock, and flowers. She is from New Milford, Conn.
“The vetting process I go through with each designer is intensive, based on design practices, sustainability, and handcraft concepts, so when these designers make it through our standards, I was very excited and impressed,” said Cann when asked how she chose these particular participants. “The designers’ passion is always what draws me to a designer. Designers who are so fully invested in their work, the process and believing in their pieces, there is such a strong energy about that.”
Asked about the community response to Workspace Collective beyond Fashion Revolution, Cann said, “The folks who walk in tend to be the adventurers, the wanderlusters, seeking beyond the common. That’s really what we are as well. The reactions are elements of inquisitiveness and delight in the selected items for the shop. I love the questions I get from the customers, as I can educate them on every piece in the shop.”
“In terms of designers’ reactions, overall, they love it,” said Cann. “It’s a space where they can sell their wares, and within the collective, we have a tight knit group of makers who want to see Workspace Collective do well. So they really love the retail aspect, the community, the ability to travel with me to events outside of the shop, and the element of camaraderie.”
Not everyone who steps forward to be part of the collective is the right fit, however, for Workspace Collective, said Cann.
“Some designers have loved the space but I couldn’t sell their pieces based on materials as I tend to stay away from polyester and other synthetic materials,” said Cann. “There have also been designers that I wanted to sell their pieces, and who were aligned with our ethos, but were deterred by the idea of selling in Danbury, and thinking it was not a town that fit their market.”
Shoppers with a conscience, however, will find it worth their while to get behind the fashion movement, Workspace Collective espouses, said Cann.
“The global fashion industry is opaque, exploitative and environmentally damaging and desperately needs revolutionary change,” said Cann. “We love fashion, but we don’t want our clothes and other lifestyle products to come at the cost of people or our planet.”
As for why people should turn out to be part of the Fashion Revolution this week, Cann said, “Customers can come and work with designers who are directly making their products. They can explore the shop and listen to the lives of the folks who are making the clothing. They can come out and even have a one of a kind piece made for them. Most importantly, they can be part of the change we are trying to make in fashion.”
Workspace Collective, 287 Main St., Danbury is scheduling film screenings, visits with the designers and a fashion show during the week of April 24 to 28.
A fashion show will be presented Friday, April 28 from 5 to 8 p.m. There will be designers, models, a live DJ, live art, photo booth, and cocktails.
Find more information at www.workspacecollective.co/fashion-revolution and www.fashionrevolution.org