World 43, Exploration A

In World 43, a progressive UK government recognised the disastrous impacts of the fashion industry and passed the Environmental Sumptuary Act (2015). This controversial law limited production of clothing and banned the sale of all blue textiles, both new and used. Further colour-based restrictions will be introduced every ten years.

With the now-finite resource still in demand, an impromptu system has emerged in which blue clothes are exchanged and repaired at community-run ‘Blue Fashion Commons Hubs’. Rules govern the use of these hubs: people must donate garments, skills or time to become commoners and earn the right to withdraw items.

While some people place more value than ever on the logos and labels that signify industrial production, others have embraced the de-commercialisation of blue clothing by embroidering folk symbols on their items. The motifs found on nineteenth-century English smocks, reinvented for this new context, are particularly popular. 

This hub, constructed in the vernacular Essex style, has been generously loaned by representatives of the parallel world as a gesture of friendship. It offers a window into a very different system of clothing exchange.


‘A Temporary Outpost of the Blue Fashion Commons’ is currently on display as part of We Are Commoners: Creative acts of commoning, a Craftspace national touring exhibition. For more information visit craftspace.co.uk/wearecommoners

Images 1, 2, 4, 8, 10 and 11 courtesy of Craftspace/Dewi Tannatt Lloyd

This Exploration was contributed by Amy Twigger Holroyd (located in Nottingham, UK), developed from a World that she also contributed, using a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International licence which allows others to share and adapt the work in any medium and for any purpose, providing that they credit the authors and share their material using the same Creative Commons licence.

Does this World remind you of something?

I am keen to hear about any historical or contemporary real-world examples – whether individual practices, subcultures or mainstream activities – that this fiction brings to mind.

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Published by Amy Twigger Holroyd

explorer of Fashion Fictions

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