We interrupt the flow of the EU sheep breeds series to invite you to join an open discussion: #woolbodypositive.

Sonya Philip with lamb buddy
Sonya Philip with lamb buddy

This evening we have a special Q&A with Sonya Philip whom you may know from her iconic project “100 acts of sewing“. Wovember is about challenging the fashion industry’s misuse of the terms wool, woolly and woollen because we feel that currently these terms are misused to benefit massive corporate interests and globalised supply chains rather than the wool growers who ultimately produce this amazing stuff. However, Wovember has always been a celebration of wool as well as a campaign website, and that celebration is a form of positive activism too. In highlighting the wool products of small businesses, the cultural heritage of shepherding and many different sorts of sheep breeds, we are exploring an alternative model of fashion here: one that has wool at its heart.

We came to wool through a variety of routes; through disgust that this sustainable natural resource was not being utilised everywhere; through anger about advertising and marketing that cash in on the cachet value of wool while simultaneously destroying its economic viability; through horror that fashion is the world’s second most polluting industry.

On a much more personal level, Wovember began with two friends asking what shall we wear? of what will those clothes be made? and what will those outfits mean? Perhaps you came to wool by the same route, too.

Slowly working towards a woollier wardrobe...
Slowly working towards a woollier wardrobe…

The ongoing Slow Wardrobe project grew out of Wovember; we have featured the work of Fibershed here; and we have published content about land and resource management touching on everything from the preservation of rare sheep breeds to the environmental consequences of the globalised wool industry.

But perhaps – although it’s always been implicit – we have never talked explicitly about body image and wool. Today we want to change that. The same Fashion with a capital F systems that reduce the value of wool, push acres of synthetic textiles into landfill, enslave garment workers in the developing world in abominable working conditions and that pollute the planet, are the same ones churning out images that make us feel bad about ourselves. The imagery of Fashion does not reflect the rich diversity of people who wear clothes. As well as not being representative, Fashion imagery all too often creates a sense of lack and of not being good enough, rather than engendering us with the necessary hope and conviction to challenge all the things that are wrong with the global garment industry.

We need new ways of dressing; a rich, alternative fashion narrative; one that we can make up ourselves… one we ARE making up ourselves. There are many comrades to whom we could point for inspiration when it comes to alternative fashion narratives – to folk who are leading the way when it comes to methods for dressing ourselves that are kinder to the planet and to each other. However recently we’ve been especially struck by the empowering and affirmative, empowering and political tenor of Sonya’s amazing work and social media presence. We’re really excited to have her here tonight on the blog for a longer discussion.

The revolution will have dots and high wool content!
The revolution will have dots and high wool content!

Please join us in this discussion by sharing how wearing or working with wool has changed your personal sense of style and the ways in which you express yourself in fashion. Use the hashtags #woolbodypositive and #bethechangeforwool: see you tonight!

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