Norwich is to host the city’s first ever Slow Fashion Week next week. Maria Thornberg, one of the organisers, explains how they hope to help drive a positive shift in our relationship with clothes.
A fashion show, exhibition, slow fashion trail, workshops and pop-up events around Norwich will make up the city’s first ever Slow Fashion Week, starting on Tuesday, September 19. The aim of the week is to invite people to consider how clothing is produced, its environmental impact – and the personal significance of garments. ‘Slow Fashion Week is the first fashion week of its kind in Norwich. It will focus on inspiring, empowering and supporting people to think a little more deeply about their relationship with fashion,’ says Maria Thornberg, one of the organisers, along with Karen James-Welton – a fashion stylist and blogger with more than 25 years of experience working in fashion and vintage – and Liz Hollis – an award-winning multimedia journalist and writer based in Norwich.
Maria, founder of Norfolk-based charity ReDo, a CIC that helps charities and businesses, as well as individuals, send less to landfill, adds: ‘As well as considering how fashion can be more sustainable rather than harmful to the planet, the week will also invite people to contemplate what clothing means to them personally. We hope people will think about their relationship with garments in their wardrobe and why we should care more about what we wear.’
The week will also consider the important links with Norwich’s textile past – an industry which dominated the city until modern times. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries for example, Norwich was world-famous for its finely woven fabrics.
Programme of events:
John Lewis Norwich, Mezzanine, Tuesday 19 September 2pm to Saturday 28 October 2023 at 5pm.
Slow Fashion Week will bring an innovative exhibition to Norwich called Threads of History. Held in collaboration with John Lewis Norwich, the event will open at 2pm during Slow Fashion Week on Tuesday September 19 and will run for several weeks until 28 October 2023 at 5pm. It will be held in the Mezzanine at the John Lewis store, in Norwich and will be available to visit during the store’s normal opening hours.
The event will curate and display several precious items of clothing and explain their back stories. ‘It will inspire people to think about the meaning in clothing – and in their own wardrobe. It will encourage them to think about their relationship with much-loved items and why some have no meaning – and others are important to them,’ says Maria.
It will also showcase the latest trends – but styled using pre-loved and vintage fashion. In addition, John Lewis will loan items from its heritage library of garments for the exhibition.
Pre-loved style and shopping evening
Wednesday 20 September, Nansa Charity Shop, Magdalen Street 7-9pm, free entry.
Join stylist Fabulous Miss K, aka Karen James-Welton, for an evening of pre-loved fashion advice and shopping. This event is for anybody who would like to start wearing second hand but isn’t sure how to start. Enjoy at talk on how to shop second – what to look for plus tips on what would suit you best. Then you can shop without anybody in the store with Karen on hand to help you choose pieces and style them up.
Invitation only, Friday 22 September, Juni & Co, Royal Arcade. Copies available around Norwich from this date.
The week will also see the publication of the second issue of the Norwich-based sustainable fashion magazine Dressed. The magazine is edited by Liz Hollis and style director is Karen James-Welton. The launch is invitation-only, but after this you’ll be able to pick up a free copy around the city, including in Juni & Co, Royal Arcade Norwich.
Saturday 23 September 2023, at John Lewis mezzanine, free entry.
Two workshops will help people learn to rework and repair clothing.
Workshop 1: Mending with Friends
10am-12noon, free entry
Run by Norfolk-collective We Wear the Trousers, this free workshop will explore ways to participate in fashion by enjoying the clothes we already have. Drop in, bring pieces that need repairing or altering and somebody from the collective will be on hand to help you sew. Ideal for menders and aspiring menders. No sewing experience needed, suitable for all levels. No cost, but donations to the collective welcome.
Workshop 2: Tell your story with clothes
1-5pm, free entry but donation welcome
Book ahead by email firstname.lastname@example.org
Love your old clothes and remake them into something new and original. Simple sewing. Bring an old piece of favourite clothing and give it a new lease of life by adding vintage lace, buttons and embroidery. Or bring two pieces and combine them to make a stylish new item. Run by Emma Skeet, artist and activist who runs SYSTA Share Your Story Through Art.
Fashion show and pop up shopping
Mercure Hotel, Boundary Road, Norwich, Sunday 24 September 2023, 12-noon to 4pm. Fashion show starts at 1pm. Free entry.
The final day of Slow Fashion Week will bring a Sunday of sustainable fashion events at the Mercure Hotel, in Norwich. A fashion show will see five local charities and local sustainable clothing brands showcase the joys of pre-loved and environmentally friendly fashion.
The event will also have locally based pop-up shops and Norwich University of the Arts students will also take part in the event, creating an outfit from pieces found in local charity shops.
‘The aim is simple. We want to show the world just how amazing second-hand can be, highlight some of the many amazing charities we have here in Norfolk, and of course showcase some of the talent at NUA. We want the world to see how sustainable fashion can be anything and everything, but boring,’ says co-organiser Karen James-Welton.
Follow slow_fashionnorwich on Instagram and visit slowfashionnorwich.co.uk
Featured image of (left to right) Liz Hollis, Maria Thornberg and Karen James Welton