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Give (Back) Credit to the Heritage Communities

Give (Back) Credit
to the Heritage Communities

How should the fashion industry give credit to the originating communities and creators? How to revive, repurpose and reward the European-wide sector of textile craftsmanship?

Give (Back) Credit to the Heritage Communities

©Red jacket and illustration by Ciara Courtney, Tartan by Clare Campbell

The importance of restoring control and recognition to makers of heritage products is imperative to preserve this endangered knowledge and intangible heritage, and promote an alternative to the destructive transactional relationships in the present fashion system. 

The “Give (Back) Credit to the Heritage Communities” project is a response to the pervasiveness of cultural appropriation in the fashion industry. This remains a growing and widespread problem despite the celebrated shift towards a more ethical future. Through a program of webinars, workshops, designer residencies and collaborative design, the project aims to emphasise the lack of protection afforded to heritage communities and influence a transformation in attitudes and practices through education and alternative frameworks.

The University for the Creative Arts is a partner of the “Give (Back) Credit to the Heritage Communities” project, which is co-financed by the Creative Europe programme of the European Union.

Activities

#GBC activities

This webinar discusses the subject of cultural appropriation, and its prevalence in the global fashion industry. Hear from leading experts and industry voices, as they assess the barriers that prevent the artisan communities being included and/or remunerated by the fashion industry when creating collections inspired by the traditional artefacts. A special emphasis is placed on the international legal framework applicable to intangible cultural heritage, and on the contemporary business models evident in the fashion industry. As the industry begins to shift towards a more sustainable future, it is important to place cultural sustainability as a focus in this transition. 

Leading experts and industry voices include Activist and Designer Carry Somers, Intellectual Property Rights expert Brigitte Vezina, Textile Conservator Emerita from The Met Museum and the co-owner of the Muzeul Textilelor; Dr. Florica Zaharia, and Professor Pier Luigi Petrillo professor of Cultural Heritage Law. There is also special contributions from guests Cristina Niculescu and Jelena Ivanovic. Cristina is an artisan, weaver and designer working specifically with Romanian cultural textiles, and Jelena is a Serbian international top model and founder of J’s management, a talent management company. Their experiences and first-hand accounts are crucial to inform the conversation around cultural appropriation in fashion. 

The “Cultural Appropriation in Fashion” webinar was the first activity of the “Give (Back) Credit to the Heritage Communities” project proposed by La Blouse Roumaine - IA Association, from Bucharest, Romania, in partnership with Gordana Grubjesic Etnology Fest (Republic of Serbia), National Institute of Heritage - Institutul Național al Patrimoniului (România) and University for the Creative Arts - UCA Business School for the Creative Industries (United Kingdom). 

This webinar is hosted by the Business School for the Creative Industries, part of University for the Creative Arts (UCA), and a partner of the Give (Back) Credit to the Heritage Communities project. UCA is a specialist arts institution, and the highest-ranked creative specialist in the UK, with courses that span the arts, business and technology sectors. The Business School for the Creative Industries is the newest edition to the UCA community, and is ranked no.7 in the UK for Business, Management & Marketing (2021 Guardian League Tables). The Business School offers the tools and resources needed to support the global thinkers and leaders of tomorrow to achieve their creative and visionary goals. 

“Give (Back) Credit to the Heritage Communities” project is co-financed by the Creative Europe programme of the European Union. 

 

CREDIT 

  • Design and visual work by Louie Stewart-Poynter elespee.co 
  • Video ‘The Way of the Artisan’ by Speri Enescu The Speri Factory 
  • Video ‘Ethnology Fest’ and recorded interview with Jelena Ivanovic by Gordana Grubjesic 

After a successful Call for Proposals in June 2021 we embarked on our Summer Residency in August 2021 with independent fashion designer Ciara Courtney and our chosen artisan community Prickly Thistle Tartan mill in the Scottish Highlands. Our Designer Ciara was provided the unique opportunity to observe the authentic craftsmanship at the Prickly Thistle Tartan mill, and the immense effort of the team there to restore and protect the tartan production heritage in the Highlands, whilst keeping the skill and meaning alive.

Find out more and read the gbc residency handbook.

CREDIT 

  • Designer in Residence: Ciara Courtney
  • Student Research Intern: Cara Hodges
  • Residency Booklet design: Cara Hodges
  • Research & Coordination: Fran Sheldon
  • Heritage Textile Community: Clare Campbell and the team at Prickly Thistle Tartan Mill

Designer Ciara Courtney and the Prickly Thistle Tartan mill team (guided by Clare Campbell) collaborated on the production of a 7 piece tartan capsule collection in order to explore collaborative relationships between designer and makers whilst centralising the artisan community and the heritage in the design and production process. Many elements of the supplier: designer relationship are explored in this collection including and identity and design, equal pay, and ownership and labelling. The collection is due for completion in May 2022.

Find out more about the collection here.

The masterclasses held in April 2021 include perspectives from fashion industry insiders and cultural heritage legal experts over two topics ‘The Legal Framework’ and ‘The Fashion System & Heritage Communities”. Through lectures and scenario driven discussions UCA’s fashion and business students were invited to actively assess and explore the current transactional relationships with artisan suppliers in the present fashion system, and framework best-practice for the future of the fashion industry when working with heritage communities.

CREDIT 

  • Moderator: Fran Sheldon & Andreea Tanasescu
  • Consultants: Marijana Andric (Maridruna), Professor Pier Luigi Petrillo, Charlotte Urbain (Fragonard), Clare Campbell (Prickly Thistle Tartan Mill)
  • Student Research Assistant: Cara Hodges

The “Give (Back) Credit to the Heritage Communities” project is still ongoing. We are planning the following activities:

  • Exhibition
  • Documentary
  • Charter for culturally respectful fashion
  • Conference

Give (Back) Credit to the Heritage Communities 

©Image1: Jacobite illustration Bridgeman Art Library / Universal Images Group, Image 2: ‘Sandy’ a Victorian tobacconist’s shop sign. Photo credit Christie’s Images / Bridgeman Images. Image 3: Words by Inverness Museum & Gallery. Photo Credit Cara Hodges.

#GBC

To find out more

The “Give (Back) Credit to the Heritage Communities” project seeks to reposition the value of cultural craft within the fashion system, and proposes a new collaborative and considered approach to the creative process when working with heritage communities.  

We understand that the prevalence of culturally appropriated products in today’s fashion industry is in part due to the deterioration of the creative process, but also the limited protections which legally and financially favour the designer over the heritage community. 

The importance of restoring control and recognition to makers of heritage products is imperative to preserve this endangered knowledge and intangible heritage, and promote an alternative to the destructive transactional relationships in the present fashion system. 

Craft by its nature embraces the art of method, and expertise. Speed is acquired through mastery, but never to the detriment of the craft or the technique. Compare this to the manufacturing process of fashion products that will be sold today, and likely at discounted price within the next 3 months. The commercial ideals of low price, high speed threaten handcraft, home-industries and community production. 

But there is a sea change in our human aspirations, and we are starting to see awareness and desire for responsible product. This is the perfect time to ensure that cultural sustainability and safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage is central to the future promise in the fashion industry. 

Brands and product developers are innovating sustainable solutions, but also turning to forgotten knowledge for these solutions. Now more than ever textiles knowledge: the understanding of natural fibres, resource efficiency and technique is championed.   

Cultural communities can provide these tangible solutions to the fashion industry, but also intangible solutions; teaching the creative brain to be inspired from nature, to be inspired by stories, and to make connections. We believe this exchange is vital for both industries but it must be collaborative. Our challenge in this project is to find out how. 

The “Give (Back) Credit to the Heritage Communities” project has been produced with the support of the Creative Europe programme of the European Union. 

Project Partners: La Blouse Roumaine - IA Association, Gordana Grubjesic Etnology Fest, National Institute of Heritage Romania (Sep 2020-Feb 2022 only), and University for the Creative Arts (Business School for the Creative Industries)

Designer (Tartan Residency): Ciara Courtney

Designer (Romanian Blouse Residency) Monica Miller

Tartan Residency (Highlands, Scotland): Prickly Thistle Tartan Mill

Romanian Blouse Residency (Bihor, Romania): Community Artisans in Bihor

Student Research Intern: Cara Hodges

Design & Communications: Elespee.co

Videography & Production Romania: Speri Factory

Videography & Production Scotland: SomewhereSky Photography

Project Consultants: Marijana Andric (Maridruna), Jelena Ivanovic, Cristina Niculescu, Professor Pier Luigi Petrillo, Carry Somers, Charlotte Urbain (Fragonard), Dr. Florica Zaharia

Historical & Cultural locations (Scotland): Culloden, National Trust for Scotland, Highland Folk Museum, Inverness Museum & Art Gallery

Connect with us

To ask any questions about the project, please get in touch at: contact@givebackcredit.org

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