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Wearing The Weight Of/On My SleeveRead award winning writer and performance artist Taylor Biedler’s spoken-word poem for the #NetZeroFashion event as a part of the Race to Zero Dialogues in 2020
Taylor Beidler is a London-based playwright, prose, and performance artist. She is the inaugural recipient of the 2020 UEA New Forms Award through the National Centre for Writing. She holds an MA (Distinction) in Scriptwriting from the University of East Anglia, and is currently finishing her MSt in Creative Writing at the University of Oxford, where she is working on a novel. She provided written material for AMC, and is under option for an original series with Silverprint Pictures. She is the co-founder of Arts Regeneration, an environmental arts organization championing solutions-based narratives.
This work in particular was inspired by Taylor’s conversations with various youth focus groups oriented around sustainable fashion, and she performed the poem to stakeholders from across the industry with a view to raising ambition levels and catalysing real change towards sustainable, fair sourcing and climate change targets.
Wearing The Weight Of/On My Sleeve
I grew up with a great-grandmother
Who once owned a children’s clothing store in Upstate New York We would take annual back-to-school pilgrimages
Buying clothes that did not fit, but I would one day fill.
I remember my great-grandmother
Gumming pins as she trimmed the tail-ends of my trousers. Or running her fingers along my sleeve.
You can tell everything in one touch,
She would say, flicking her hand away,
As if there was a stain only she could see.
See I was raised to believe that clothes make the woman, That the right fit will invigorate me.
But if that liberation comes at a cost,
Are any of us truly free?
Throughout our focus groups we asked,
What changes they would like to decree,
What they looked for when buying a product,
What the industry should strive to be.
Here’s what they had to say:
Clothing may be our second-skin,
But our trust is worn too thin,
To invest in anything further.
We’ve stopped believing in transparency,
When the word itself is now opaque.
Let’s pinpoint exactly what sustainability looks like
And allow it room to regenerate.
To use it as an instrument of change,
Rather than a one-note buzzword.
Greenwashing is not an absolution
The solution lies in our ability to congregate, collaborate, and incorporate In order to remove the stain we must connect the chain,
Copyright Taylor Beidler, 2020
To embrace, not waste a system of circularity,
To do for our great-grandchildren,
What my great-grandmother did for me.
Let’s double the anticipation by halving our carbon participation After all, 2030 is only ten years’ shy of tomorrow. If a Fashion Revolution really is everyday,
How do we make today different?
Today, I challenge you to set targets too impossible to ignore, To define, refine, and, redesign your outlook,
Fashion is only worth the price,
If the cost adds up to net zero.
When single-use holds a universal impact,
How do we sustain one another?
Let’s start by finding less in the more
When more of us accept nothing less.
Copyright Taylor Beidler, 2020. You can discover more about Taylor and her work here.
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