The Circular Heritage Project
Fashion is a product of the presence, no question about it. The half-life of fashion cycles can tell you a story or two (increasingly short ones, though) about it. And yet fashion is also the result of
Unequal, colonial ones. Cotton plantations, the enslavement trade and the paths to "modernity" are closely linked, and they still form the foundations of the clothing industry today.
Part of the Circular Sweater Project's philosophy is to keep this often-neglected critique in mind and to speak out. But we also founded ourselves to go beyond this and to develop solutions that transfer the consequences of our pasts into a better future.
At the core of this concern is the recognition that
CIRCULARITY is not a brand new invention,
but it used to be the common mode of producing clothes for centuries. In the context of industrial modernization, new and supposedly better materials emerged: Colors that did not change despite numerous washes, particularly resistant threads, stretchy, lightweight or even waterproof fabrics, etc. Today, we're confronted with the unintended side-effects of these inventions.
The entanglement of forced labour, the global cotton trade and the rapid technologization of the clothing industry led to the destruction of LOCAL KNOWLEDGE on a large scale - in the colonies as well as in Europe. We have to be aware of these pasts when looking for better futures.
The Circular Sweater Project therefore works not only on the level of material culture. We also understand ourselves as a Circular Heritage Project, looking for forgotten circular knowledge stocks, striving to uncover, archive and re-use them sensibly and without romantization.
Using artistic and ethnographic methods and collaborations to collect, exhibit and publish our findings, we inscribe ourselves into the desideratum of a global decolonization project that is more and more interested in how colonization shaped and changed not only the colonies, but also the former metropolis, "Europe". It is with this postcolonially sharpened lense that we're working towards better and circular futures.