UCRF is running a ‘Member of the Month’ feature on this blog, where a member, selected at random from the membership database, is sent five questions to give us all an overview of our members. Our sixth participant is Noorin Khamisani.
>How would you sum up your research / practice?
I am a designer and academic from London, UK currently based in Dubai, UAE. My professional practice is a fashion label called Outsider which is focused on design for longevity. During my MA in Fashion Futures (2018) I reflected on this and my research into Fashion Design for Multiple Lives developed. This is an exploration of circularity and how the design process needs to evolve for a clothing rental model within a fashion library or informal sharing lifecycle.
>How do you address fashion and sustainability in your work?
I teach at a new university called the Dubai Institute for Design and Innovation, the original curriculum was developed with Parsons, The New School. This has provided me with the opportunity to embed sustainability into the fashion design courses. It is the foundation of every syllabus and project brief, not an add on or a single project.
I have drawn on my teaching practice for my research. In September I presented a paper at the International Upcycling Symposium on the subject of mapping a new design process for upcycling. This encouraged students to approach their projects in alternative ways, not automatically starting them with new materials.
I have also developed a collaboration with the Zay Initiative which is an archive of historical clothing from the MENA region. This was progressed with a view to decolonise the teaching of fashion history and to explore the unique perspective of the region.
>What are the conflicts you have encountered around fashion and sustainability in your work?
In my professional practice, I realised several years ago that even by offering my clients a sustainable alternative to conventional fashion, I was still a part of the problem simply by making more stuff in a world that has in many ways reached peak stuff. Within my academic work, I see my students struggle with resolving their wish to create with wanting to be sustainable and responsible fashion designers. This has led me to pursue research on the future of fashion design education.
>What do you consider the key sources and cases when it comes to fashion and sustainability?
Fashion Revolution, The Earth Logic Fashion Action Research Plan and Arturo Escobar’s Designs for the Pluriverse have all become very influential within my approach to teaching sustainable fashion.
>Could you recommend some less known sources or cases you think should be more widely shared?
I have really enjoyed Global Perspectives on Sustainable Fashion, edited by Alison Gwilt, Alice Payne and Evelise Anicet Rüthschilling for the varied and diverse approaches to sustainability in fashion practice.
Here in the UAE, the exhibition Fashcultivate is a fascinating example of local context design. Date palms are the starting point for a variety of pieces created by artists and designers.
>Thank you for your insights Noorin!