Saturday 31 December 2022


Welcome to Discarded, a multimedia art project by Elly Platt and CL Gamble. Discarded is an exploration of the short and uneventful lives led by fast fashion garments from brands with headquarters in the UK, focussing on brands with their headquarters in Manchester. From garments in charity shops that have never been worn, to garments thrown out with household rubbish, this project seeks to highlight the waste of resources, the exploitation of workers and the pollution problems that the overproduction of fast fashion causes, and to create new and exciting realities for these unwanted garments. The project will culminate in an exhibition during Fashion Revolution Week in April 2023, to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Rana Plaza factory collapse.

This is a quick FAQ about the artists and the project, with more information to come as the project develops.

Who are we?

Discarded is a collaboration between Elly Platt and CL Gamble.

Elly Platt (she/her) is a costume maker and textile artist, also known as Take It Up Wear It Out. Her love of telling stories through clothing has taken many forms, from visible mending to the Wandle Wardrobe project, showcasing lost and discarded clothing and textiles from the River Wandle in south London as precious objects or wearable works of art. As a person who makes clothing, Elly seeks to spotlight the disrespect fast fashion brands show to the skills and expertise of garment workers when they sell their clothes as disposable.

CL Gamble (they/she) is disabled, queer and non-binary.
Art that’s Lo-Fi, that makes you think “I could do that” in a way that encourages you to follow through.
Art that’s conceptual, but that you don’t need to have done homework to understand.
Art that doesn’t follow rules, which crosses boundaries between media and ignores tradition.
Art about what we have in common, entering the spaces we share. Be it on your mobile phone, or picking up a printed zine…
I want art that moves us & brings us together.

What is “Discarded” going to be?

Right now, it’s an Instagram and Twitter account, a pile of cheap clothes and a maelstrom of ideas! You can follow our progress on social media as we collect and document the unloved clothes we find. These clothes will eventually become the raw materials for an exhibition with a work of wearable art at its centre. You can expect restyling, upcycling, storytelling and ranting as part of the online process, as well as physical artefacts like a zine.

Why are you doing this?

On the 24th April 2013, the Rana Plaza factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh, collapsed. 1134 garment workers died, and more than 2500 were injured, many of them severely. They had been making clothes for fast fashion brands and other western retailers whose labels were found in the wreckage. Workers had noticed cracks appearing in the building the previous day, and were reluctant to return to work. The threats of docked wages for people who have barely enough money to survive sealed their fate. The factory collapse made global news, and led activists to campaign for change in the industry on many fronts. Better transparency from fashion brands, so consumers would know where their clothes really came from. Better pay, conditions and the right to unionise for garment workers. And more knowledge of what really goes on behind the scenes of popular fashion brands.

The hope was to slow the fast fashion juggernaut, leading to better choices being made by more conscious and ethically-minded consumers, and better lives for the people who make our clothes. In reality, the pace of fast fashion has only increased, with new brands producing clothes that are considered almost disposable. The exploitation of garment workers in the Global South continues to be a huge problem, but it’s happening here in the UK too, where we assume minimum wage legislation, working time directive rules and other checks and balances would prevent this mistreatment of the people who make our clothes.

Why Manchester specifically?

Historically, Manchester has a place at the centre of the UK textile industry as the site of hundreds of cotton mills and other textile factories. Today, Manchester is home to the headquarters of some of the UK’s worst offenders when it comes to creating fast fashion from exploited labour. Activists have protested outside the Manchester headquarters of BooHoo when the company attempted to prevent unionisation by workers. The 10th anniversary of the Rana Plaza disaster will see creatives and activists come together in Manchester to commemorate this tragedy, spotlight the ongoing problems with the fast fashion industry and highlight the need for better regulation and legislation to control the industry’s exploitation of people and the planet.

What is happening, and where?

That’s still to be confirmed! As soon as we have details, we’ll let you know.

Why are you doing this?

We both love clothes! We love the theatrics and the creativity of expressing ourselves through our personal style. We both keep clothes for years, adding to our wardrobes by hunting through thrift stores, charity shops and even finding things by the side of the road! We love the freedom of feeling truly yourself in an outfit that’s perfect for a certain moment, and then remixing those clothes into a totally different style for the next month, or year, or decade.

We don’t love the conformity that underpins so much of the fast fashion industry, where hundreds of thousands of styles are available every day but somehow everyone looks the same. We want all garment workers, wherever they might live, to be paid a living wage, to have a safe work environment and to be respected for their skills and expertise. We want clothes to be worn again and again, to hold memories, to be considered precious. We don’t want clothes to be unworn, unloved, discarded.

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