BFA exhibition at Colonel Eugene E. Myers Art Gallery
Hughes Fine Art Center – University of North Dakota
April 3 to 6 2017
Fast fashion of readymade clothing has become very popular. Cheap and fashionable clothing that allows people to update their wardrobe every two weeks is, evidently, very attractive; however, this convenience has a price. The effects of this consumption can be seen in all spheres of the economy. On the one hand, the amount of jobs it creates and the money this industry makes is very appealing to brands worldwide. On the other hand, the unappreciated workers pay with their lives. The three dresses on display were made as a critique of the fast fashion industry and a way to raise awareness of its consequences.
The development of this work started with an in-depth research of the fast fashion industry: from conception, sale, to discard. This data was later converted into visual elements used to give shape to the dress form. The construction process was similar for each dress: starting from the bodice, layering strips of paper, and working downwards to the skirt where the main information is placed. For each dress, one element was created to be repeated through the form. On the first dress, “Made In,” the tags in the skirt were produced to represent the people affected by three major accidents in sweatshops: two in Bangladesh and one in Pakistan. Together, these accidents killed over 1200 people and injured many more, between 2012 and 2013. In “Little Money,” the origami octahedrons represent the wage inadequacy suffered by the workers in this industry. For each ten hours of work they receive a single dollar. “Pollutants Used,” repetition of form and text are used to emphasize the relevance of these issues at a greater scale.
The elements in the dresses are directly connected to the message they bring: how this industry relies on unsustainable practices and the exploitation of workers in third world countries. Lastly, the production of these products is prejudicial to the environment from harvesting cotton, chemicals, and dyes, to the disposal of garments. Most of what is produced end up in landfills. Buying into this practice is buying into exploitation and pollution. It may seem like an attractive option and sometimes it is the only option, but if one can choose, one should opt for sustainable clothing.