I am really delighted to have recently become a member of the South West England Fibreshed.
Fibreshed, if you haven't heard of it, is a movement that began in the US as individuals and organisations began to envision an alternative to the current, unsustainable model of garment manufacturing and to address the mammoth issue of waste from the industry. They realised that their own landscapes and communities provided enough resource for the potential of truly local garment production.
Some were inspired by wanting to reduce the environmental toll of clothing production, some were concerned about energy use and climate change, some were textile designers with a love for natural fibres. There were also farmers looking for ways of diversifying their practice and there were local economy organisers looking for opportunity for community business growth. A collective movement was emerging.
Fibreshed was then founded both as a result of this collective drive, as well as a woman - Rebecca Burgess - who pledged that she would challenge herself to only wear garments that had been grown and produced in her region for a whole year. This came after the realisation that her wardrobe was full of clothing 'largely sourced from fossil carbon fibres, and almost all were dyed with these same, non-renewing materials originating from deep within the Earth's carbon pool'. She wanted to find a way of clothing herself that would not just have minimal negative impact on people and planet, but that would actively benefit the two.
To quote the South West England's definition - 'In other words, the Fibreshed ethos goes beyond sustainability, to something that is truly regenerative and it does this by considering the whole system in which fibres, textiles and garments are not only produced, but also how they worn and how they are disposed of.'
A couple of months back, I bought the book 'Fibreshed - Growing a Movement of Farmers, Fashion Activists and Makers for a New Textile Economy' from Fernhill Farm. I have been reading it apace and often aghast at some of the horrific statistics about garment production and toxic chemicals within the industry. I knew a little already, having had a keen interest in ethical manufacturing and sustainable processes for many years (been buying fair trade or second hand for most of my adult life), but the in-depth font of information in the book is particularly powerful.
So you can imagine my delight when I applied to join the South West England Fibreshed and was accepted! My Truly Mendip range is a fully soil-to-soil collection, aligning with
the Fibreshed ethos. The yarn is sourced from Fernhill Fibre, situated less than 10 miles from my loom, where the sheep have been regeneratively reared in a way that increases the biodiversity of the beautiful landscape on which they dwell. I weave the yarn into scarves that are designed to thrive for years to come, and at the end of their long life can be laid out in the compost heap and given back to the earth.
My upcoming natural dyed collection will also join the Truly Mendip range - keep an eye out for these!
I am really excited to be part of this important movement and so looking forward taking part in future events and projects with the Fibreshed community!
Take a look here at lots of other wonderful makers and textile producers, all based in the South West, on their Producer Map