“SLOW TEXTILES GROUP is a collective of designers, manufacturers, suppliers, artists and tutors. HQ is the social enterprise, Textiles Hub London, that we set up in West Hampstead, London, UK.”
The aim of the Slow Textiles Group is to push the boundaries of sustainable textile design and related industries (agriculture, waste, chemical engineering, behavioural science, oceanic sciences, social care, etc) and record the resulting innovations, concepts, installations, garments and projects through publication, exhibition and engaging events. It is a subscription-based membership group working much like a co-operative where all members make up the group’s input and output.
The group’s ethos is founded upon a sustainable development model where investment in social, cultural, health and resource capital takes priority. The group’s theoretical approach is based upon the National Population Approach, Ecocide as Fifth Crime Against Peace and the Industrial Ecology model. The enterprise originates from Slow Textiles Founding Director, Dr Emma Neuberg’s research into sustainable design systems whilst at the Royal College of Art, NESTA Creative Pioneer Programme and Textiles Environment Design at University of the Arts, London, UK.
“We’re delighted to celebrate two doctorates and several awards that have arisen from the work of the group already!”
“Slow Textiles Group members are cultural meaning creators,” says Neuberg. “Each one imbues fabric, clothing, images, systems, techniques and relationships with cultural meaning. This creates value and edge by being symbolic, insightful and eloquent and grounds people in a language that can be felt, talked about, shared, understood and owned.” Clothing, fabrics and design exist in a cognizant, collective space, she adds, not “just some place of coincidence and plagiarism.” By understanding textiles manufacture, design and meaning, more complex relationships arise and render textiles and their systems less throwaway.
“Our workshops, meetings, tutorials, book launches, seminars, film showings and symposia are a constant source of inspiration for the group, its members, friends and associates.”
Dr Emma Neuberg founded the Slow Textiles Group in 2009 in response to a demand for more reflective, theoretical and collaborative frameworks for creative design and textiles practice, professional development, educational and industry support, lifelong learning and community. Her vision for the future is progressive, integrative and global.
During a time of mounting university costs, cuts to student funding, textiles as a subject no longer taught in schools and Fast Fashion as global therapy, the Slow Textiles Group represents an enterprise that inspires, shares and teaches textile design, making and systems that stimulate in-depth material and immaterial relationships, meaning and value.
From 1960s’ BIBA seamstresses to digital company directors, Slow Textiles Group members and associates enjoy textiles and tactile materials for haptic exploration, social and cultural experience, quality of life – and a great wardrobe! They know the complexities of resource depletion, monoculture pressures, toxic externalities and social injustices and take a localized, grassroots approach to indicate and carve out diversified routes and alternatives.
Neuberg believes that fabric created to a maker’s design is an extension of that maker’s psyche, cultural context and epistemology. As a designer herself running her own commercial practice she knows this to be true with “every fibre of her being” and, in applying this as a foundational stone, all fabrics, structures and patterns made and discussed by the group are placed in a fresh and meaningful cultural context and conversation. The role of crafted practice is enormously important in integrating this value knowledge with respect to materials and product values, effects and affects at each stage of the material and immaterial lifecycle. (Examples of ‘immaterial’ may range from falling ‘out of love’ with a coat to ‘invisible’ carcinogenic emissions such as phthalates emitted from a vinyl beach bag left in a car on a hot day.)
One public space for the group’s work is Textiles Hub London, a textiles maker-space and franchise conducive to textile designing, making, sharing and dialogue that Neuberg set up in 2014, and online during events broadcast live via Google Hangout, Any Meeting and Facebook Live.
Slow Textiles Group events at Textiles Hub London offer an accessible space for conversations to air and blossom and for research and new knowledge to embed and disseminate. Themed events range from My Nature to The Sustainable Design Tools Masterclass.