In a world where it’s possible to pick up a T-Shirt for just a few pounds, have you ever stopped and wondered who made your garment, how long it took them and what skills they needed in order to deliver the perfect final product? With all the buzz about ‘hand-made’ items, perhaps you assumed that most clothing is made by machines and not hand-sewn?
To help unveil some of these mysteries, reveal some of the secrets of the fashion industry and help consumers reconnect with their clothes, a Pop-Up T-Shirt factory was set up by Antiform with the TRANSFER project team at Trinity Leeds from 6th-7th February 2015.
TRANSFER, a joint initiative between the Centre for Sustainable Fashion, London College of Fashion, UAL the University of Sheffield (UoS) and funded by the ESRC, invited the public to visit the factory and chat with a specialist team who asked a series of questions derived from their research about shopping habits. Answers to those questions then directly informed how their T-Shirt is manufactured, from the colour to the pattern and print. At the end of the interview a personalised manufacturing docket was passed to Antiform’s skilled makers and machinists. The interviewee then watched their T-Shirt being brought to life by the team, ending up with a unique money-can’t-buy garment to their exact specifications.
By unravelling the process of clothing manufacture the TRANSFER team, which is made up of experts in psychology, management and fashion, hope to help people reconnect with their clothing and show that just because some clothing is cheap it’s certainly shouldn’t be disposable – there is a story behind each and every garment that we own. The pop up factory highlights just how many skilled people it takes and how much energy is needed to produce our clothing. It questions our insatiable need for cheap fast fashion and to make the social, environmental and cultural impacts of our day-to-day purchasing decisions more real. It will also encourage people to question our consumer habits and what we have come to believe is normal.
The team of machinists was made up of Antiform family past and present including Hannah Rooke, Kate Uzzell, Hannah Gower, Dots Printhaus’s Gem Smith and Jonny Akers and Leeds college of Arts’s Sam Hudson. This talented group of makers produced 4 t-shirts per hour, from cut pieces to final pressed and printed garments laying bare the reality of how clothing is made.
Antiform developed the pop up factory with the team from Centre for Sustainable Fashion, Professor Helen Storey CBE RDI and Business and Research Manager Alex McIntosh to create an immersive and interactive event.