Shahira Kamal

Shahira Kamal

Custom wool and leather outerwear and technical garments at
Shahira Kamal Custom, www.shahirakamal.com

Volunteer for Fibershed: building a regional textile economy
in my backyard, at www.fibershed.com

Location Portland, Oregon USA

Activity

  • Looking back at my work experiences I can see it really is necessary to have qualities from both columns to move situations forward.
    I'm probably personally better at the skills in column 2, but it's not necessarily apparent, and my communication techniques could be more effective.

  • I've found that I usually possess a great deal of personal power but sometimes struggle to communicate it.

  • I think positional power is becoming less and less relevant, as job descriptions shift, more and more people work remotely or as consultants or otherwise independent contractors/entrepreneurs/freelancers.

  • Hello, all. I'm Shahira from Portland, OR.

    My tasks include imparting the value of sustainability as a socio-political and economic practice, including investment in long-term solutions that can be expensive up front but give better returns over a longer period of time. These philosophies can be difficult for those of us in the affluent West to adopt, as...

  • As a professional clothesmaker, I will continue to lead by example by wearing more garments that I've made and fewer that I've bought, wearing only self-made clothing by 2020.

  • Indeed @DanielaMagalhaes vegetable-tanned leather is available (I also use it in my work), but it's been overrun by more easily available and cheaper chrome-tanned leathers, even on the luxury market. Veg-tanned leather also has a different quality: it's a bit stiffer, takes longer to soften, and shows strong wear patterns over time (which I absolutely love,...

  • Still feeling good about my manifesto, but like a lot of other folks, I want to incorporate visual elements.

  • I've always had a difficult time speculating on my customers and community. Something about not enjoying the guesswork. I really want to do this justice, so I will probably interview some real people.

    Doing so will require time that takes me past this final week, but I feel it will be worth it.

  • I love how Fisher doesn't mess around. Honestly, it would be a better role model than Kering regarding how Kering was showcased in the curriculum for this course, i.e. in the interviews and the EP&L app, etc. Maybe Fisher was approached.....? I understand showcasing Fisher would make it a slightly different course, as the brand is not quite luxury, but...

  • Yes @NinnaKorhonen-Schwegler . A Part II to this class would be needed to really give proper consideration to the psychological and emotional issues around clothing and consumption, and also to the difficult related topic of transitioning to a slower-growth or no-growth economy. Especially in the US, we're taught it's our patriotic duty to consume at high...

  • I'm so inspired by Professor Storey's work. I dug into her background; I didn't know she's been concerned with socio-political and environmental issues for ages, and that she incorporates so much science into her art. (I'm dying for something like a 'Professor of Fashion and Science' at a college here in the US, not to mention a school like LCF).

    Her...

  • Shahira Kamal made a comment

    I must echo previous comments about how this course is a great foundation for people new to the issues, showing how the issues intersect with a ready-made hierarchy for organized consideration, keeping the focus on how to stay commercially viable while implementing sustainable business practices.

    But that we needed more depth of consideration about the...

  • I completely agree, it is past time to delve deeper into the psychological and emotional barriers to consumers making sustainable choices, which relates to the values our (Western) culture decides to push in cooperation with our personal emotional strength to either adopt or reject. And, we can no longer tip-toe around the fact that the fashion industry...

  • Agreed, there could easily be a Part II with an emphasis on social psychology, consumer culture, and the relationships between business and politics. And I strongly agree it is within those areas we find the beating heart of the environmental and social justice problems we're currently facing.

  • Offering curriculum, engagement and opportunities in the areas of sustainable fashion to young people would also require a more serious look at fast fashion. How can we encourage our young folks to express themselves creatively as much as they want concerning their appearance while doing so in ways that are not as damaging to other people and the planet? And...

  • Agreed. Trying to encourage businesses and consumers to find technological ways (technocentric ways - in the words of Ms. Fletcher) to maintain the status quo, just a little bit more sustainably, doesn't address the deeper issues of high-volume production and consumption.

  • Finally, we're addressing the heart of the matter: values.

    If we continue to hope against hope that technology - recycling, new materials, automation, closed-loop systems, etc. - will save us from having to actually take steps to change our high-consumption lifestyles and daily habits, deep and lasting change will never take hold.

    We have to be much...

  • Wearing the same garment more often also needs to be portrayed as cool.
    Wearing the same top, say, three times a week is really looked down upon, especially here in the US. Such behavior goes strongly against the grain of what has been defined in the past 4 or 5 decades as 'the good life' and 'the American Dream' (which is different from the original...

  • But it will probably require redefining what it means for a business to be profitable. Businesses and economists, too, are afraid to look at other models aside from those based on continuous growth.

    Nobody really knows what a slow-growth or no-growth economy will look like, but there are few people considering it. Do you know the books or "Post-Growth...

  • I am also finding that I can draw in people who are unaware of these issues towards idea that sustainable clothing can also be beautiful by focusing on design and materials. Then when they are told that 'by the way, this garment also expresses sustainability as a priority' they are pleasantly surprised. There is still a perception that sustainable garments are...

  • Yes, clothing needs to be treasured again.

  • Yes @CarmenEco @RaffaelVeldhuyzen Wearing the same garment more often needs to be portrayed as cool, too. In the face of a media juggernaut shouting at people to buy the newest item NOW or else they'll look like an idiot, we must find an inspiring narrative that makes people proud to wear the same thing repeatedly.

  • Shahira Kamal made a comment

    UNMADE really struck me, too. I wish they still sold direct to the consumer, though. It would cut down even further on high-volume production. I also appreciated the other profiles in the 'Changing Behavior' category, though they were perhaps not as striking because the stories behind the clothing weren't presented as strongly as they were for UNMADE, or also...

  • I like the idea of integrating the concept of empathy into every step of conceptualization, but I would have to agree with @AdriannaDeBiasi that the empathy needs to stretch beyond the human condition. Perhaps there is an intention to integrate an appreciation for ALL of the conditions - particularly the environmental - that contribute to the entire planet's...

  • Shahira Kamal made a comment

    This is a great idea but barely begins to scratch the surface. I was surprised and disappointed by how few choices there were for materials and manufacturing areas. This app has been mentioned several times before this section as being something Kering has worked very hard on and as something of a saving grace for designers to make more sustainable choices for...

  • I agree @AngelaSerra if this software can truly be called 'open source' it should include how the profit and loss numbers are calculated.

  • Yes, @JoaoBerdu this app does not take into account the environmental benefits such as carbon drawdown that can result from partnering in a responsible way with natural systems that comprise the growing of silkworms or other fiber animals like goats and sheep.

  • Hi, @JAIMEGM The idea that 'sustainable harvesting' of wood is beneficial to forests -- as if forests were in bad shape until humans came along and started cutting them down -- is questionable. Just because a forest is thinned instead of clearcut, that trees along streams are left standing, and that old-growth trees are left untouched doesn't mean that the...

  • Hi, @SuzanneDelaney - Lenzing does do some admirable things, but not consistently across the board. Over half of their pulp is processed in their own facilities where their water-heavy and chemical processes have been largely closed (but not completely), but the other half is processed elsewhere by their partners. There are no details on their partners'...

  • Hi, @carolined - thank you for the compliment. I wish the process of rebuilding a regional textile system would go a lot faster, but I'm learning to be patient.
    I understand you're based in London at the moment, but perhaps it is you that is destined to start a Fibershed affiliate in Italy :-)

    By the way I love your weaving! I'm following you on Insta.

  • @eLaineD I couldn't agree more; it's so important the facts behind textile and garment production are shared with consumers, hopefully via a compelling narrative that both informs and inspires. And I would build on what you said: I really hope our educators take our voicing of these concerns a bit more to heart, because it is precisely instruction on consumer...

  • Hello, @carolined It is confusing H&M is pointed to as a leader in implementing sustainable practices. Maybe because they're one of the largest purchasers or organic cotton?
    I found several articles touting H&M as 'making fast fashion sustainable', but here's an open letter from the Clean Clothes Campaign calling out H&M for back-peddling on its promise to...

  • I agree greenwashing is a real concern. It's dishonest and only adds to consumers' confusion. They're already overwhelmed by expectations and choices; it's no wonder they're likely to just throw up their hands and say 'I give up'.

    The fact of greenwashing also underlines the issue of our need to rethink our values. Right now our values still skew towards...

  • The social/cultural imperative is still underrepresented. Granted, the business imperatives are the primary focus of this section, and the social/cultural imperatives will get a small nod in the next section, but we will not make much progress towards a sustainable future until our cultural values change. These values need to be part of the discussion in all...

  • Yes, our small daily actions do matter, and we influence those around us, whether or not we see the results of that influence immediately.

  • I agree not being afraid to say 'we're eco' is important. It no longer means 'we're hippies', as if that's a bad thing anyway.
    It's like not being afraid to say 'I'm a feminist'.

  • The UAE could be an interesting market to try to get a foothold regarding marketing sustainable clothing. As you said, there is considerable disposable income, and sustainability is at least on people's minds concerning other sectors. I would imagine design and function would need to be focused on as the primary traits of a sustainable object (garment), to...

  • We're definitely all with you on the concerns about the inherent elitism.

    But the higher costs of responsibly-made items are made into a bigger problem than they should be because we still consider them within the context of high-volume consumption. We consider consuming at high rates as one of the hallmarks of leading a 'normal' life.
    Higher priced items...

  • ....on thinking about these issues than the US. Your governments certainly have a stronger mandate from their constituents to take action that is community-minded.

    I like to push the work of Fibershed, a non-profit started in Northern California. I volunteer for their Portland, Oregon affiliate.
    http://www.fibershed.com/about/

    They work to build...

  • (continued from above)

    .... I know Kering and all the other multi-national corps like it are in a fix. They want to keep producing at high volumes but not admit it's high-volume/low-cost-per-unit production - with it's attendant exploitation of people & resources - that got us into this mess. And it's not just the brands; the industry itself doesn't want to...

  • Hello, @NinaStevenson -- I appreciate your responding, especially with the article from Mr. Thackara, which was new to me.

    I'm so appreciative of Ms. Fletcher's work. It has been a go-to resource for several years. She provides a language around these issues that's particularly useful when I want to partner across disciplines with those who are ready to...

  • Hi, @NinaStevenson I particularly appreciated Kate Fletcher's post from last Nov 2017 about thinking beyond processes and products to reconsidering our values that make high-volume production/consumption the cornerstone of our socio-political and financial economies.

    Are there any other resources on the CSF website or could be shared in this course that...

  • Shahira Kamal made a comment

    I make custom/couture leather and wool coats and leather motorcycle apparel. I am for the low-volume production and use of vegetable-tanned leather, preferably organically grown.

    My approach to sustainability is about wearing far fewer garments for a far longer period. No other material comes close to leather for durability, longevity, and increased beauty...

  • We need to look at cotton alternatives. I'm not insenstive to the fact there are some families that have been farming cotton for a few generations, but, again, the problems begin when we try to produce too much. Cotton is so resource intensive - water needs and nutrients from the soil - we're well past the point of needing to reconsider our assumptions, based...

  • Love the link below sustainabilitymap.org, especially that it lists all of the global standards and certifications for sustainability that are currently being used.
    But that same list also highlights how much simpler it would be to address these concerns if we, as a global community, could merge some of these certificate requirements and develop fewer...

  • I agree, @AnaNeto - The brands may have started this terrible cycle by outsourcing to produce more items at cheaper prices, but it's the consumer that is driving the market. And it's within the consumer's power to change it, a power they've forgotten they hold. Hooking the consumer on the ideas that buying less, buying better, taking care of their clothing,...

  • @TracyHoltze I understand. It's interesting how people can compartmentalize their feelings. And it can be difficult to cut through emotions with a rational argument like "cow hide doesn't bother you but kangaroo hide does?....."

    But I don't know the ecological situation around kangaroos, and what the implications would be to build an economy around them....

  • That's fantastic, @IsmayMummery that you have a good resource for sampling and and production.
    Best of luck!

  • A few people below mentioned the problem of waste from development processes.

    I've found a recycle-er of cotton fibers here in the US that will take low volumes, called Leigh Fibers, in South Carolina. There is still some structure of our textile industry left here in the States, and the southern states is where it mostly can be found. I do all of my...

  • When I'm not making custom/couture wool & leather coats, I volunteer extensively for an organization called Fibershed.
    www.fibershed.com

    Its challenge is to (re)develop regional fiber systems, where all phases of natural fiber growth, production, consumption and recycling happen within a designated area. In my area of the Pacific Northwest United States...

  • Hello @IsmayMummery @RuthRead -- I don't know if you ladies have already started producing, but you might consider starting small. A lot of people hope to launch 20-40 products all at once, which is often too much to ask, especially if your a solo-preneur AND you also want to do it sustainably.

    I would suggest focusing on developing just one or two...

  • Hi, @CarolynPrevett I agree, wool really is boss, for its beauty, versatility, and durability, and it's easy to partner with its natural cycles. It can even scale a little easier than most fiber production systems, though not too big is always better. And, stewarding the land by responsibly herding livestock such as wool and goats can be regenerative and...

  • Hi @MichelaBardotti - I found the same was true when I worked 9 months at Nike. It's as if companies won't give the consumer even one small chance to make a better choice by creating something better.
    The consumer really has the power; if they made more demands and refused to make purchases, the brand/retailers would snap to attention much more quickly.

  • @constanceJeffreys Yes, I agree it's absolutely critical to hook the consumer on these ideas because increased demand generates more funds for small and large companies alike to develop more sustainable practices, and for fairer prices to be paid all along the value chain.

  • Hi, @JulieConroy Wow, absolutely gorgeous knits! Very inspiring.
    Of course, I can't help asking: what has been your experience around looking into sourcing US wool? I don't think we produce cashmere in the volumes you're looking for, I'm wondering if you've found sources of other heritage breed fibers that might be suitable?

  • Hi, @TracyHoltze I use vegetable-tanned leather in my custom garments. Certainly compared with a nappa-style leather it is stiffer, but it really softens up with use. I'm sure you'd also appreciate veg-tanned leather is non-toxic to produce, compared with a chrome-tanned nappa.
    I had a quick look and found this tanner in Austraila on Australian Made, called...

  • I make custom/couture leather and wool coats and leather motorcycle apparel. I am for the low-volume production and use of vegetable-tanned leather, preferably organically grown.

    My approach to sustainability is about wearing far fewer garments for a far longer period. No other material comes close to leather for durability, longevity, and increased beauty...

  • I do like Ms. McCartney, and it's clear these issues are truly important to her personally. She did go out on a limb as far as high fashion is concerned by choosing not to use leather and fur, and she's been consistent in her efforts to implement more responsible practices over the course of many years. I also appreciate her company swallowing the higher costs...

  • Regarding grown fibers and materials like cotton, cashmere, and leather, I wish the discussion about diminishing availability of these materials and stress on the environment made a bigger point about how high-volume production is what's pushing the irresponsible growth and processing of these materials.

    Dr. Crowley discusses briefly that it's possible to...

  • I do appreciate thinking in terms of circular production systems vs. linear systems, but I've always felt "What do we do with so much waste?" was the wrong question.

    The right question is "How do we generate less waste?"
    And the answer is simple but perhaps hard to digest: we produce and consume less.

    Instead of looking to circular technologies and...

  • Hello, @AnneMatthews @IlariaFumagalli @MichelaBardotti
    I'd have to echo @BrittaBoyer comment. Considering the volumes H&M produces commercially compared with what it 'takes back' and 'recycles', they're hardly making a dent in the problem of waste they're creating. You might appreciate this link discussing H&M's take-back program....

  • Shahira Kamal made a comment

    The Shared Talent project is a fabulous idea, though I want to encourage designers and entrepreneurs to look within their own regions for artisans to collaborate with. Granted, they may or may not find people or organizations that can produce at high volumes, but there are still opportunities to be found at producing in low volumes and limited...