POSITIVE BEHAVIOURAL CHANGE
We started our business to create change. It began with body confidence and female empowerment, through our online sewing & fashion design courses, as we believed the myriad of negative marketing and media messages targeting young women needed to be challenged.
The various benefits for sewing and handcrafts are well documented but can these skills be used for a higher purpose? Can they be used for positive behavioural change in society?
The Circular Economy
The target is 2030 and the government is doing an amazing job of keeping the general public out of any messaging. If you ask “what is the circular economy?” most will give you a blank stare. It is understandable why no messaging is wanted. Creating a conversation with the public sets the date. The date requires action. Action requires ideas. Ideas require, well, creativity. All of this involves accountability and government doesn’t really do accountability.
Zero Waste Scotland has missed their 2018 and 2020 targets. Is there any accountability?
(“Who are Zero Waste Scotland?” you ask…)
“I don’t have the time”
It is a statement we hear a lot and mainly from adults. We get it. People don’t want to learn new things. It gets you out of your comfort zone, the drawbridge goes up and the conversation is over. Trying to engage with an adult about learning a new skill is like trying to bathe a cat, maybe with slightly fewer scratches.
According to a recent article, around 85% of jobs that will exist in 2030 have yet to be invented. On the flip side, a lot of existing jobs will no longer exist. That’ll mean a lot of people are going to have to retrain, reskill and get out of their comfort zone and it won’t be their choice. Where is this conversation?
We have just completed a student-led teaching project in Clydebank. It was a sewing & fashion design course, using the basis of our online courses as a teaching strategy. Our courses are based on making your own clothes, for your body and style. There is no rigid structure, no readymade pattern, no complicated jargon. That puts people off. It certainly puts kids off as they just want to learn, to ‘do’.
Throughout, we sought feedback, comment and constructive criticism. We learned there was a fashion class in the school. It was called “Passion for Fashion” and they were all embarrassed by this and the content. It bored them, they switched off. Teens don’t want to make cushion covers and stuffed toys and it is condescending to think they do. It isn’t challenging and probably speaks more to the level of the teacher than the pupil.
Harsh? Maybe, but adults do a great job of putting limits on kids, to avoid mistakes and that mistakes are bad. It’s knee jerk but we do it and we know we do. We also have a very rigid curriculum that has no room for creativity. Creativity is hard to mark but it is the single most important part of the curriculum. This is why we believe we can supplement what already exists.
We believe that children want to learn and grow but this growth is hampered by adults who have engrained resistance - it’s a vicious cycle. There is the “pester power” theory of using children to positively influence parents within the sphere of food buying habits, but there is no reason why the same philosophy cannot be adopted for clothing habits, fashion waste, environmental impact and linear vs circular. Pester power may be the best option to engage with parents. If you look at the climate discussions in school, engaging the children (who look up to Greta Thunberg), then they positively influence the parents through pester power. It can work.
How do we break the marketing message from fast fashion brands? How do we pierce through the greenwashing? We have to begin teaching impact ownership to our kids. These businesses certainly won’t change, why should they? There is no incentive and it’s all on their terms. You break the cycle by turning off the taps.
Impact ownership is about teaching pupils their part in the fashion journey - before and after. Warts and all. All the stuff that H&M, Zara, Shein, Primark etc do a really good job of covering up. Fashion underpins all parts of society. We all wear clothes and we all play a part in that journey. Reducing our dependancy on fast fashion brands will make them change. Hit them in the pocket. It’s the only way.
Impact ownership is also about calling out ignorance. Own it. We know the fast fashion is toxic, we know they don’t pay the workers, don’t accept responsibility for their wellbeing, pollute the land, pollute the sea, destroy eco systems and clearly put profit over people.
Yet we still consume, increasing the deflation of prices to meet our unrealistic demands and simply worsen the impact on the environment. If we are serious about our climate targets then fast fashion has to be taken to task.
Positive Behavioural Change
Change is always met with suspicion, unless it means something to us.
Then we embrace it as a change agent.
Mending and repairing are almost forgotten skills. These acts keep clothes from landfill and in use. Sewing is therapeutic. Handcrafts are great for mental wellbeing, hand eye co-ordination, problem solving, creative thinking and confidence building. They all work together to build a more confident individual, who isn’t afraid of mistakes, or failure. They see it as the learning path and embrace it. After all, you learn from mistakes!
Social Media Influencers
If we are going to break the strangehold that fast fashion has on the marketing world, we need some Grade A celebrity type to jump ship and come to this side of the fence. Too many take the money, promote the brand and keep us in this cycle. Nothing will change while that world is made to look glamorous.
Our mission is to break the spell. It just takes one high profile star to change everything.
Sewing & Fashion Design by Arkdefo
We believe the skills we teach transcend any one course or subject. Our “course for kids” is a system build, growing confidence at each stage as the complexity increases. We know this system works, we have had online feedback and, more importantly, we have first hand experience of the course in action, live, and the results were amazing.
From next to no experience, we took six pupils and taught them how to design and make their own clothes (top and bottoms each) in only 12 days, a total of 48 hours. They learned more with us than in 2 years at school. We had each of them proficient with a sewing machine within 3 hours. As the teacher, Elizaveta was running 12 separate design projects simultaneously and kept them all moving forward to meet the deadline. They made what they wanted, listened, learned and they had fun.
Fashion design is a vehicle to create positive behavioural change through confidence building.
It works and we want to roll it out!