World 43, Enactment i: report

Man sitting stitching blue cloth at a workbench.

This Enactment was developed in tandem with

This World 43 Enactment was created as a commission for an exhibition by Craftspace, We Are Commoners: Creative Acts of Commoning, which toured the UK in 2021–22. It was conceived as an interactive installation: visitors were encouraged to use the hub by exchanging and mending blue clothes.

The fiction guiding this Enactment:

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. 

The beautiful hub structure was constructed by Ben Coode-Adams, Jack Dempsey and Jeremy Kidwell. The initial stock of blue clothes was gathered from Amy’s local community, and she added chain-stitch motifs to a number of them. The hub also featured packs of mending supplies: scraps of blue fabric, threads and yarns; sewing and darning equipment; and mending books for inspiration.

A sign communicated the rules of the hub to visitors – and encouraged them to join in:

Blue Fashion Commons Hub poster inviting visitors to become a commoner by exchanging blue garments and/or spending time on the maintenance of the resource by mending.

At some exhibition venues, special events were organised to catalyse activity – such as the Day of Commoning at Devon Guild of Craftsmen, shown in the images.

Craftspace also commissioned Amy to create a set of instructions for adding chain-stitch symbols to your clothes:

Adapt this Enactment

Would you like to adapt this Enactment for your setting? Please feel free to use the ideas shared here – and tell us how it went! Send an email to Amy with your news.

This Enactment was devised by Amy Twigger Holroyd, developed from a World also contributed by Amy Twigger Holroyd, 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.

Photos courtesy of Craftspace/Dewi Tannatt Lloyd

Does this World remind you of something?

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Published by Amy Twigger Holroyd

explorer of Fashion Fictions