The Life of a Dress, Mexico
The University of Boras
Amanda Margareta Ericsson, textile engineer, dress-collector and artist. Born in Sweden, based in London. Currently working on her PhD in Upcycling Textile Management at the Swedish School of Textiles. She is here investigating the reconstruction of secondhand clothes and fashion as tools for capacity building and business development.
By the age of ten Amanda had already begun to amass a collection of second hand clothes picked up from local charity shops. Her search soon focused onto dresses but the search also rapidly grew worldwide. Initially triggered by a curiousity in other countries, soon fuelled by a career in modelling, Amanda started to travel extensively continuously expanding her dress and photographic archive and her knowledge of the textile industry in different territories. As part of her education in textile production she moved to Hong Kong in 2005. This became the turning point in how she wanted to be involved in the fashion business and use fashion as a mean of communication rather than as an excuse for production. Exploring a direction of redesigning and rethinking materials and current structures Amanda started to learn more about a fashion world where concern for environment and social conditions were taken.
Amanda has been freelancing as a stylist/consultant/lecturer for various projects, organizations and magazines for many years. Since 2007 she has been working with her concept brand and online platform Dreamandawake where old dresses are collected and revived through design and photography. The project is built upon photo collaborations with photographers who are given free hands to interpret and depict collected and redesign dresses.
From 2009 Amanda has curated and developed a travelling exhibition and workshop called "The Life of a Dress" having visited Sweden, France, Hong Kong, Mozambique, Mexico. During these workshops participants are encouraged to challenge current structures and ways of thinking around materials and making.
This paper is a summary of a field study made in Mexico during six weeks in October/November 2012. The concept, process and findings from a practical project "The Life of a Dress", containing a participatory design workshop given at a cultural center in Mexico City are presented together with an overview of five Mexican design and slow fashion brands.
The brands presented are in different ways exploring alternative product development processes of producing and communicating design, identity and heritage through combining new design thinking with traditional handicraft manufacturing. The handicraft industry is a vital part of the Mexican economy and for many families in rural villages it is the main source of income. New products are developed in collaboration with craftsmen and respect are given to the time it takes to make the materials and products which are being made in close relation to nature.
The action research project "The Life of a Dress" is a traveling exhibition presenting a concept of revival of second-hand clothes through visual installations and hands-on workshops adding value to discarded clothes. The group of students which followed the workshop in Mexico City in 2012 created a collection of 50 dresses which were all labeled with a common brand "Hecho en Faro", collaboratively created in the premises of production. The project "The Life of a Dress" has been ongoing since 2009 and has so far been taking place in four different continents (Sweden, Hong Kong, Mozambique and Mexico). The aim of the project is to explore how design, traditional handicraft and waste clothing might be tools for capacity building and/or business development, on a local as well as global level.