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What's a shirt, really? Fiber molecules? Instant warmth and comfort? In truth, every shirt is part of a complex system of global trade, agricultural politics, farming traditions, and the detailed labor of a young person's hands on the other side of the world? Can the truth of a shirt really fit into a space as small as your closet?

Changing Clothes is an ongoing project that investigates the politics and ecology of clothes through a series of sculptures, collaborations, and public participations that explore the everday world of producing, wearing, and discarding clothes.

This project consists of an ongoing series of blog posts and the participatory clothes tag offerings further down the page. Here are the blog posts to date:


Note: There is a suggested donation of $1.00 per tag requested to cover project costs. You can include your donation in your envelope, please make checks payable to "Leafcutter Designs." If you can't donate but still want to participate, please limit your tag request to two (2) tags. Thanks!

 


Tag Exchange

This custom clothes tag is an intervention - a way to introduce and cultivate an imagination and awareness that are essential to ecologically and socially conscious shopping habits. We designed them a few years ago and they are woven here in the United States. There are now thousands of them in circulation.

With these tags, we want to honor the best of what clothing can be: something that connects us to the earth and each other in positive, beautiful ways. Imagination - the images, ideas, and stories in our heads - has an essential role to play in furthering a more fair and just production system for clothing; one that treats the earth and people well.

Perhaps China is too far to go to find out for ourselves, but if we can tell (and re-tell) stories - true stories - about the peoples and places wrapped up in the production of clothing, we believe our clothing will begin to speak to us in new ways. Our hope is that this eventually leads us to more respectful relationships with each other and the planet, and healthier more sustainable methods of making.

Here's how it works:

  • Send us one (or more) of your clothes tags and a self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE)
  • We'll send you one (or more) of the tags at left in exchange
  • Sew these tags into your garments, as a reminder and statement in support of healthier clothes

As your garment gets passed on to friends, little sisters, or thrift stores, the tag takes on a life of its own and becomes a surprise snippet for future wearers. If you're about to give away a load of clothes, consider sewing these tags into the collar first. The tags can also be sewn onto a sleeve (or anywhere else) like a patch. As I receive tags in exchange for mine, I am making a shirt by stitching them together.

Send your tags to be exchanged and a SASE to:

Leafcutter Designs
1528 6th Street
Berkeley, CA 94710






 


Wool/Sheep Craft Tag

Quite a few folks requested clothes tags to sew into their handmade woolen items. So here it is. If you are a knitter, clothing maker, or sheep-raiser these tags are for you!

$0.75/ea IN STOCK

Quantity



 


Inspiration & More Resources

Fortunately, there are lots of artists, businesses, and organizations working on the ecological and social issues of clothing. Many of them offer plenty of opportunities to get involved.

Artist Terese Agnew stitched together clothes brand labels into a "Portrait of a Textile Worker" and microRevolt created a Nike Blanket Petition with the help of knitting and crochet hobbyists. In the Brown Dress Project, a woman makes a fashion statement. Artist Michael Swaine wheels a mobile mending cart through San Francisco. Judi Werthein designed the Brinco Sneaker for immigrants crossing the US/Mexico border.

While there are many companies now offering organic and fair labor clothing, I'm especially inspired by Tom's Shoe's model of giving a pair of shoes to a person in need for each pair purchased, and Icebreaker's Baacode that lets you track the origins of their woolen garments back to the specific sheep farm.

Here in CA, the Sustainable Cotton Project brings farmers, manufacturers, and consumers together in pursuit of cleaner cotton, while Textile Exchange is a non-profit working to improve the global industry. The Clean Clothes Campaign supports the empowerment of garment workers and The Organic Consumers Association has a Clothes for a Change Campaign. Maquila Solidarity Network will help you start a "No Sweat" campaign in your community and also supplies news and educational videos. Global Exchange also has a Sweatfree Communities campaign to ensure that our tax dollars support fair labor. The Environmental Justice Foundation's Cotton Campaign focuses on child labor in Uzbekistan and MADE-BY has developed a Blue Button tool as well as Track&Trace which lets you follow a garment's supply chain.