Ditch the Label state that 'as many as 1 in 2 people have experienced bullying at some point in their lives', a sad and startling statistic highlighting the prevalence of bullying, not just within schools but increasingly across social media and the local community. From our experience of working within schools and colleges, whilst recognising the provision and support services available at The Orange Box, we had the welcomed opportunity to contribute to the Orange Box's own, Anti Bullying campaign over the Half term holidays. Using our donated sweatshirts, we engaged an enthusiastic group of first time machinists in some fashion inspired activism, transforming discarded clothes into a slogan printed wrist band that portrayed messages of support and empowerment for those affected by bullying.
Education and Events
To support teenage mental health and inspired by our own eye pillow range, we worked with a multi cultured group of young people at the Orange Box, showing them the process of creating of their very own, hand made and up-cycled Lavender eye pillow. Lavender, renowned for its relaxing and therapeutic properties was used to fill the eye pillows which were hand sewn and embellished using donated clothing. After the positive response and feedback received, we'll definetly be running more holistic health and wellbeing focused sessions in the future, believing this as crucial to the longer term development of young peoples confidence and resilience.
Just some of the spontaneous, creative sewing outcomes from our recent workshop at the Orange Box in Halifax. These guys designed and made skate snoods from old t-shirts kindly donated by the staff at the Orange Box. It was great fun to work with these guys but what made it even more so, was seeing them scooting through Halifax wearing their very own handmade and up-cycled creations at the end of day. Hope to see them all again soon.
Over the school holidays we had an awesome 2 days at the state of the art young peoples centre, The Orange Box in Halifax. On day one we arrived ladened with sacks of reclaimed T-shirts and sweats and pleased to say, that on day two, we left with considerably less.
As the photos show, amidst some serious designing and sewing action there was also an overwhelming sense of support and solidarity across a broad range of ages and abilities. The ratio of boys to girls from the Orange Box and participants from other youth projects; Arts Barre and Project Challenge meant that between up-cycling, yoga, dance, cooking and art workshops, there was something for everyone to get involved in.
The beauty about working with reclaimed and donated clothes in workshops with young people, is that if it you make a mistake it doesn't matter, you just repurpose the garment into another creation at a later date. This not only permits more creative freedom and enjoyment but removes the focus of achieving the 'perfect' outcome, which lets face it; could be seen as an over worked concept within today's design led world anyway. New and innovative ideas come from making mistakes and its great to be able to provide the opportunity for young people to allow this to happen whilst supporting the environment too.
After the two days, the response from the young people was overwhelmingly positive and from our perspective, it was an honour to work with such a fantastic group of enthusiastic, young people who were not only excited about up-cycling and but were pretty fab machinists too. Most importantly it was great to see that everyone involved over the two days was challenged, inspired and proud of what they had designed and created. Well done Halifax Fashionistas.
To launch our community education project we ran a pilot fashion project with a group of young teenage girls, exploring current issues surrounding social media and its impact upon teen mental health and wellbeing. The creative and personal outcomes far surpassed our expectations. Their openness to communicate and share experiences, skills and challenges was incredibly positive and inspiring. Below are some of the unique designs produced by this very talented group of young girls. We look forward to continue working with the group on their journey of creative self expression and entrepreneurialism. #teenfashionactivism
Teen Fashion Activists: Esme
'My garment is about how people feel like they can hide behind their screens and say things to people which can affect them in many ways. I've put the words on the back of the shirt to show what it's like being stabbed in the back and how the people who are affected by this put it behind them and try to forget about it all.' Esme age 14
Esme chose text as a means of expressing her feelings and concerns around teenage cyber bullying. Having initially sketched the words to form a repeating pattern, she then hand screen printed her design in black onto a deconstructed, donated work shirt. She then skilfully reconstructed the garment, attaching the sleeves and a pocket printed with 'dumb.' A tremendously bold and graphic visual statement that unveils a hidden, teenage dialogue.
Esme hand screen printed her garment at The Egg Factory Co-Working space in Hebden Bridge using non-toxic, water based inks.
Katie and Bella:
Romanticising Depression and Self Harm
Bella: 'Our shirt is about how, on social media, depression and self harm are romanticised and often seen as a cool thing. We wanted to stitch that upsetting idea onto clothing to show how tragic this is.'
Katie: 'Yeah, it's like to show people it's not something to be congratulated about. It's something for people to acknowledge and support people with these mental illnesses and that the media isn't spreading a good message on this. Katie and Bella, age 14
Ellie: 'Who's Perfect?'
'My design is about the unrealistic standards and ideas of women's bodies in modern society, and how we are expected to look a certain way, which is ridiculous because everyone is different' Ellie aged 14
Ellie boldly challenged the sensitive topic of the female body shape to explore, using two discarded garments as the structure for expressing her creative talents. She selected black and white, stretch and non stretchy fabric as opposing colours and materials, reinforcing the contrasting opinions around the 'perfect/imperfect' female body. Her final garment incorporates structured tailoring with internal deconstruction, layering and padding; undoubtably demonstrating Ellie's incredible design and making talents.
''To express my thoughts about social media through a t-shirt was amazing because I had no limits" Molly, age 12
Molly, aged 12 chose to tackle social media filters and questioned why many young people now see cutting, editing and filtering their online appearance as normal behaviour. Molly reverses the negative connotations with over editing and produces an creative, wearable interpretation of her ideas. After ombre dyeing a piece of reclaimed cotton calico for the front panel of a reclaimed mens t-shirt, she then appliquéd the letters onto the ombre background. Finally, to add an additional personalised finish, she cut away the upper sleeve sections to create a drop shoulder effect. Fantastic work for a very first time machinist and designer!
In the final week of June, the fantastic, Hebden Bridge Arts Festival begins. Taking over the town with an array of events and workshops, last years festival was aptly themed 'Trouser Town', paying homage to the towns heyday, trouser manufacturing industry. As part of the festival programme, we delivered an up-cycling and customising workshop from the towns Artsmill. With machines and trousers in abundance we worked with willing young first time machinists teaching them how to transform a pair of trousers or jeans from a range of donated and second hand trouser finds. Alongside this, a shower curtain was given a new lease of life in our political, Prime Ministers Trousers for the Day activity.
We start our community blog with a short update on what we are doing during the commemorative days of the Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh. From the 18th to 24th April, people across the globe joined forces to show their support for the families of the 94 victims that lost there lives during the collapse of the clothing manufacturing factory in 2013 and we were no exception. On the 23rd April, exactly 3 years on from the disaster we channelled some of the global grieving into a cause that will hopefully have a more small, yet positive impact on the way young people in particular purchase and value fashion within the future.
Over the next few months we'll be exploring and creating alternatives to the 'Fast Fashion' model through recycling and repurposing textiles waste into cool garments that express and share collective concerns on todays teen issues. For more information, check out our forthcoming Teen Fashion Activists posts to see what the talented group of young girls got up to.