SLOW FASHION IN NEW YORK STATE: EXPLORING FARM-TO-FASHION INTERSECTIONS
Trejo, Helen Xiomara
Inspired by Fibershed and the Slow Fashion movement, this research explores the intersections of fashion and agriculture in New York. Although New York is not a leading wool state, a vibrant fiber community persists. There are over 470 fiber farms in New York with sheep, alpacas, and goats that produce a variety of fibers such as wool, alpaca, mohair, and even cashmere. Several fiber processing mills have emerged to transform raw fibers into finished products for clothing and textile design. This research uses Actor Network Theory as a framework based on the idea that all entities are equally important including people, animals, and objects for design practice. Three major case study themes include historical, contemporary, and practice-based approaches. Methods include archival, qualitative survey, interview, and observational approaches. Findings from historic and contemporary research reveal that fiber farming has always been economically difficult. Major challenges faced by farmers in both contexts include difficulty reaching a consistent market and rural geography. A difference today is that women predominantly own fiber farms. Like predecessor farmers, they develop innovative approaches to address key challenges that includes developing fiber mills and fiber festivals. Several New York artisan designers are interested in sourcing local fibers. While some consistently source fibers, others struggle to identify consistent sources. Inspired by the research process, this study includes three practice-based approaches. The first is collaboration in a Fiber Sorting, Grading, and Classing Apprenticeship to learn about fiber quality for scaled production. The second is the development of a New York Regional Yarn Sourcebook as a resource for artisan designers to find farms. And the third involves the development of farm-to-fashion short films to expand awareness of fiber farms. Aligned with slow fashion, farmers hope that demand for local fibers increases to bring a local clothing and textiles economy into fruition. The development of an umbrella New York Fibershed and collaboration with Cornell Cooperative Extension may provide a centralized source of information about farms, fibers, and textiles for New York City designers interested in sourcing local fibers. This research provides a model for future research that explores the intersection of slow fashion and agriculture.
actor network theory; slow fashion; small farms; sustainable fashion; textile design; Design; Fashion; Agriculture
Lewis, Tasha Lenise
Park, Huiju; Leonard, Lori; Thonney, Michael Larry
Fiber Science and Apparel Design
Ph. D., Fiber Science and Apparel Design
Doctor of Philosophy
dissertation or thesis
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