TAPERED: You’ve done a lot of research on fast fashion, what’s the biggest way that you believe we can change the future of fashion?
TANUSHRI-RADHA: I believe that individual choice regarding consumption of clothing is potentially powerful in evoking change. It’s not just about consuming less, but also consuming differently. There are many alternatives to buying fast fashion nowadays; vintage and second-hand clothing is readily available, and ethical labels are slowly on the rise. In Australia, Topshop has recently gone into voluntary administration and it’s future here is very uncertain. I think this really speaks to the fact that consumers in general are beginning to grow tired of the crowded, overrepresented fast-fashion market.
T: Why did you choose ‘Zeitgeist’ as the name of your line?
TR: Zeitgeist translates roughly to “spirit of the age”. The idea behind the name is to challenge the zeitgeist of ‘fast’ clothing that is as easily purchased just as it is disposed. It also suggests a turn in time towards an alternative ethos; one that appreciates clothing and broader textile items as an art form.
T: When you shop second hand, what kind of things do you look for? Any particular characteristics, shapes, materials etc.? And do you have an idea of what you want to embroider or create beforehand?
TR: I look predominantly for durable and unique textiles that drape and take form nicely. At the moment I am enjoying working with natural fibres as they are generally easier to work with and leave room for many techniques, whether it is embroidering or printing. I usually work from sketches when I embroider, but I also like to leave room for my ideas to evolve and take different forms.
T: Where did you learn how to repurpose clothes and embroidery?
TR: Mostly from experimenting over the years. Sometimes techniques I pick up fly well, and sometimes not so much. It’s all part of the design process I suppose!
T: Any tips for others who want to repurpose their clothing? Be that best simple tricks, ideas or examples.
TR: Think creatively about what your clothing can become. It can be difficult to look at an object or item of clothing as anything other than what it currently is, but the fun in repurposing it is the way it can evolve into something else. Repurposing your clothing can be as simple or as radical as you want it to be.
T: What’s been the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
TR: Probably that experimenting and letting ideas slowly evolve and take new shapes is an important part of the process. Failing whilst experimenting as well as trying different physical techniques is a big part of what I do.
T: What’s been the most resourceful book you would recommend reading?
TR: Slow Fashion by Safia Minney is up there.
T: How would you describe your personal style?
TR: Sometimes purely monochromatic, but also sometimes bold patterns that fit what I feel would be described as an art teacher aesthetic.
T: If you had to wear the same outfit every day for a month, what would it be?
TR: My red knitted sweater and vintage mom jeans.
T: What’s your favorite hang spot in Sydney?
TR: Kinokuniya bookshop in the CBD.
T: You define yourself as a ‘Fibre Artist’, can you explain what that means?
TR: Part of it is that I work predominantly with fibres and threads. Defining myself as a fibre artist (rather than a designer or tailor etc.) reminds me that what I create is about the artistic and material design process as much as it is about making the final product itself.
T: Would you say that your style has changed since becoming a conscious consumer?
TR: To an extent. Since quitting fast-fashion and no longer buying ‘new’ clothes, I’ve had to think more creatively about curating my existing wardrobe. When I do buy clothes, they’re often vintage. There’s a wider margin for exploring my style, as there aren’t any set expectations or trends when you’re searching through a vintage store. I’m still largely a dress for comfort person, which hasn’t changed.
T: Tea, coffee or other?
TR: Jasmine & green tea with honey.
T: What are you interested in at the moment and how does it feed into your work?
TR: I am currently interested by how fashion intersects with gender and race. Particularly, the ways in which consumer cultures in predominantly western countries can impact the lives of people of colour (particularly women) in offshore garment industries. Looking at fashion from an intersectional perspective has allowed me to see that the issues in this industry go beyond being a matter of environmental degradation. There are many underlying gender and racial complexities and issues in the supply chain.
T: If you could travel back to any time period what decade would that be and why?
TR: Although I was born in the 90’s, it would’ve been cool to actually grow up/exist in that period. I can’t really explain why I’d travel back to then, but the movie soundtracks were super and I think my clothing sensibility is still firmly rooted (or stuck, probably) in that period.
Tanushri is a textile-artist, design thinker and Cultural Studies student. She works on an ethical design project named Zeitgeist, which incorporates writing and art to highlight human rights issues faced in the garment industry, as well as the environmental impact of fast fashion. She enjoys reading, collaging, most things sci-fi, and sometimes writing.
Website & Blog: www.zeitgeistlabel.com