Local textile enterprises shows the way to sustainable production

What is your research about?
−It is about changing our beliefs about, and expectations of, fashion. My work is social science research that responds to facts from natural science that tell us we must live, could perhaps flourish, within the carrying capacity of the Earth's biosphere and with respect for our fellow human beings. Global Fashion, especially during the past decades, has increasingly become a celebrated consumption activity that is in many ways at odds with achieving environmental and social well-being.

The thesis first focuses on understanding the current circumstances and considers theories about how to change it. It then looks at two real-world cases of small scale, "local" textile/fashion production: Växbo Lin in Hälsingland, Sweden, and WomenWeave in Maheshwar, India.

−My aim was to see if and how these alternative enterprise models are or might help us to re-evaluate, re-value, and re-direct the functions of fashion.

How did you perform your investigations?
−My approach is ethnographic, which meant desk research exploring the theory and discourse around so-called "sustainable fashion", and field work, mainly in Sweden and India, exploring what is actually happening "on the ground".

What are the conclusions so far?
−Local production of textiles and fashion promotes a social or psychological attitude that could help us to be more measured and reasonable about what we make and how we use what we make. It can also provide much more interesting, more diverse, and more meaningful products than the current global fashion system is capable of. It no doubt creates nodes of economic activity, in other words, jobs. Whether or not these characteristics will contribute to creating sustainability, which, by definition must be a global phenomenon, not a local one, remains to be seen.

When did you join the UB?
−I started my work as a PhD candidate in 2010.

Why Borås?
−Some years ago, I realized that my knowledge base with regard to textiles, fashion, and sustainability needed serious updating. I chose The Swedish School of Textiles to do a master’s degree in Applied Textile Management because the school has excellent facilities and my desire to have a "foreign" educational experience. During the master’s, I was inspired by Professor Carbonaro and the ideals of The Design of Prosperity initiative that she leads, and decided to apply for a PhD position exploring Design Management for Sustainability.

What did you do before the PhD studies?
−I have done a lot of different things, but the main chunks of my career have been in the contemporary art gallery world, designing textiles for fashion companies, teaching textiles at university, and teaching English as a Second language.

You are also teaching at Parsons in New York. What subjects?
− I teach Introduction to Textiles to Parsons fashion students, but I have also taught Computer Aided Design, and English for Design. At The Swedish School of Textiles, I have been tutoring in The Art of Business course, leading seminars in textiles/fashion and sustainability, and co-organizing The Design of Prosperity conferences. I also teach at The Handloom School (which I call THS South) in Maheshwar, India.

Licentiate thesis

On the 9th of December David Goldmith will defend his licentiate thesis : "Local Fashionalities: Växbo Lin and WomenWeave"

Text: Solveig Klug
Photo: Handwoven textiles: Private. Portrait: Henrik Bengtsson