Future of craft as a form of protest

We had the amazing Sarah Corbett of Craftivist Collective over to Parsons some time ago, and we have the pleasure of seeing her here again for a discussion on craft and protest. (Fashion Praxis lab in collaboration with the DEED lab at Parsons)

“Craftivism: The Future of Craft as a Form of Protest”

March 26, 2020
6:00 – 7:30 p.m.
The New School’s Lang Cafe
Ground Floor, 65 W. 11th St.
and live on Instagram @DEEDLab

Join an evening exploring ‘craftivism’ (craft + activism) – how craft has been used in the past and present for protest, the strengths and weaknesses of craft as a tool for protest and the potential craft has of improving our fragile world in the future. This will be a three-way conversation between Cynthia Lawson Jaramillo, the new Dean of the School of Design Strategies, on artisan crafts as a tool for change-making; Sarah Corbett, Founder of the global Craftivist Collective, sharing how her unique ‘Gentle Protest’ methodology has helped to change hearts, minds, policies, and laws; and Otto von Busch, Associate Professor of Integrated Design, on the power of making for social change. There will be plenty of time for questions, comments and discussion from attendees.


Banner for Union of Concerned Researchers in Fashion

The Fashion Praxis Lab at Parsons supports the agenda of the  Union of Concerned Researchers in Fashion. To manifest unity, we decided to make a banner for the Parsons section of the Union. We imagine this can be used for celebrations as well as a backdrop for work-in-progress, mobilization, or presentations of union-related activities. Perhaps most importantly, as we made it, it brought about an assembly of people and practices – a way of being together.

– Fellowship is Life. Unity is Strength.  


On the Union of Concerned Researchers in Fashion

In today’s Fashion Praxis meeting Timo Rissanen presented the Union of Concerned Researchers in Fashion and the development of the agenda with special focus on the challenges of corporate “greenwashing” of fashion. The union’s concerns are shared by the Fashion Praxis Lab, and the discussion circled around how to best push for a visionary as well as critical activist agenda – pushing for more wholesome ways to be with fashion, but also to research on such ways of being – and doing such research in a constructive manner that does not add more waste and pollution (and especially hypocrisy).

Wikipedia Edit-a-thon in the works!

One of the first resources people visit online for information around almost any topic is wikipedia. It is thus important having the page of a subject of your concern updated and relevant. This is especially crucial on a complex topic such as sustainable fashion.

As part of the wikipedia edit-a-thon organized by the UCRF, the Fashion Praxis Lab got all into editing the “sustainable fashion” page on Wikipedia together with fellow researchers across the planet. With these efforts the page gets a lot more references and a more nuanced presentation of the topic.


Spring events with Fashion Praxis

The Fashion Praxis Lab at Parsons will do a series of informal events this spring, from editing the “sustainable fashion” wikipedia page, to present recent initiatives in research. Please see schedule below:

  • Tuesday Feb 26th (3.30pm) – Wikipedia edit-a-thon – updating the “sustainable fashion” page on wikipedia.
  • Tuesday March 12 (3.30pm) – “Union of Concerned Researchers in Fashion” (Timo Rissanen, and possibly Lynda Grose via Skype)
  • Tuesday March 26 (3.30pm) – “A Buddhist approach to sustainable fashion?” (Otto von Busch)
  • Tuesday April 9 (3.30pm) – “Developing climate beneficial textiles and building regional supply chains” – (Laura Sansone)
  • Tuesday April 23 (3.30pm) – “Designing shirts to evolve over time” (Timo Rissanen)
  • Tuesday May 7 (3.30pm) – Christina Moon

all meetings will be held in the 610 conference room at University Center library, Tuesdays at 3.30pm. Welcome.

Praxis and Strategic Craftivism


Sarah Corbett of Craftivist Collective visited Parsons to present her ideas on craft and gentle protest, and how activists need to get past the “tantrum” of reaction to become more strategic (and “slow” as in thoughtful) in the way they execute their work. Giving examples of “pretty protests” (getting out of the black hoodies and into the flower-patterned dresses) and identifying allies outside of the affected groups help build wider alliances and longer lasting momentum.

Craft activism and critical making often missies the strategic perspective; how to add political leverage towards systemic intervention and change (move beyond the “tactics” of resistance) and who to utilize non-violence to build affinities and turn skeptics into allies. In this way the very slowness and introspection that craft embodies can open room for dialogue and reflection. Craftivists have a lot to learn on how to better leverage non-violence and proactionary work from icons such as Gandhi and MLK.

Critical Praxis: Commemorating Lost Selves

There are all these unfulfilled selves out there – dressed selves who were just awaiting to emerge – selves who already had their garments ready for the occasion; the occasion that never came. What happened to that self? Why did it not have a place in your life? What held back the emergence of that facett of your self?

Do not despair. Now these interrupted selves have their own monuments, they are no longer denied a place in the annals of history. We can mourn the loss of all those potential beings we could have been. What a loss.

A memorial to the wearer of that crisp white shirt. A tomb to the unpainted nails. A mausoleum to the unused hoodie. “Selves known only unto God.”


Oct 23: Monuments to Smothered Selves

What is a way to commemorate the interrupted lives of all the dressed selves we could have been? What garments/accessories do we have in our wardrobes which we don’t feel comfortable wearing, but which we once perfectly thought we could be. These things which somehow proved to be just a bit too much, or not for our current peers and context, or just simply “not me?”

Now, what happened to that potential self? Why was it not allowed to come out, to blossom, to fully grow into a mature new self?
We will build small monuments of commemoration, a grave to the unknown self who was sacrificed in the no-mans-land of lost aspirations.

When: Monday October 23rd, 18.00
Where: Parsons Making Center, 2 West 13th Street
Bring: A garment/accessory which is not worn, for some reason – and some cardboard for monument building!
& feel free to fill in a Commemoration Form for your monument – MoSS commemoration form

Sept 25: Critical Fashion Praxis #1

This term the Fashion Praxis Lab will arrange a series of reading & making events on the theme of Critical Fashion Praxis, that is, applying some of the thinking in Critical Making to fashion design. We will meet Mondays at 6pm to discuss and together try out new critical practices in fashion – we will see what that can be!

First meeting!

When: Monday September 25th. 6-8pm.
Where: at Parsons, Room U514 in the University Center.

Reading introduction will be sections of Garnet Hertz (ed) “Conversations in Critical Making” – find it here:Hertz-Conversations_in_Critical_Making-ext