Since 2009 the initiative has been gathering stories and images from the public, capturing how people use their clothes. Started by Dr Kate Fletcher — one of the founders of the ‘slow fashion’ movement and a reader of Sustainable Fashion at London College of Fashion — Local Wisdom explores the satisfying and resourceful practices people develop in using clothes. The project charts the second-natured ‘wisdom’ to use garments in ways that go beyond their original design and far beyond the passive act of purchasing. It aims to challenge the fashion industry’s dependence on increasing material output and to propose solutions that employ sustained attention to caring for and using garments — not just producing them.

Photography by Ellinor Stigle
Photography by Ellinor Stigle

Local Wisdom organizes frequent photo shoots in different cities, and everyone is invited to model. Anyone can show up at the advertised venue with one piece of clothing that tells an interesting story: it is enjoying its third, fourth or fifth life; it is worn regularly without ever being washed; it connects its owner to others. The Local Wisdom team records the story and a professional photographer snaps away.
So far, Local Wisdom has engaged hundreds of people worldwide and was shortlisted for the Observer Ethical Awards in 2010. International design projects aim to integrate these practices into larger programs and original business models in the UK, USA, Canada, Denmark, Australia and New Zealand.

Photography by Fiona Bailey
Photography by Fiona Bailey

On January 26th, the last photo shoot was held in the gallery space at Parsons The New School for Design in New York. The next events are scheduled in Wellington, New Zealand, on March 16th and in Melbourne, Australia, on March 23rd. Flip through our gallery and see the diverse people participating in Local Wisdom.