Thoughts

Working at the margins of the mainstream requires a confidence of purpose and what people often call ‘theories of change’. Through these words we attempt to communicate what underpins our work, articulate the complexity of process and practice, and acknowledge what is evolving. Please join our journey.


  • Bioregional fibre systems

    Developing cloth from local soil with local toil.

    At Liflad we are helping to develop new systems, governance & enterprise for agroecological fibre, textiles, clothing, and related materials. We also support the provisioning of a place-sourced, bioregional future through natural systems and small supply chains. To progress this challenging yet exciting vision, I recently travelled through the Netherlands, France, Switzerland and Spain by train. I explored cultural, social and physical infrastructure, investigating existing equipment and process to consider what needs collaboratively developing to support farm scale, localised fibre production. It was an enjoyable and fulfilling journey funded by a Churchill Fellowship and I felt privileged to meet many amazing people. This article, one of a series, describes my journey exploring the process and people needed to create bioregional, collective, natural fibre systems. One of the many stumbling blocks to creating localised, UK fibre is the small-scale machinery needed to help with transforming the raw plant material into practical value such as insulation, growing medium or textile yarn. Knowledge and understanding of this equipment, the process, time and effort that cloth production requires may help create respect and perhaps reverence for the textiles we take for granted on a daily basis. To understand this new/old field of practice read more here:

    https://liflad.substack.com/p/the-potential-of-bioregional-collective

    fashion designer standing next to a farm building
    Joline Jolink at her fashion farm.
  • Dreaming of a Small Fashion Farm

    On a month-long European journey supported by a Churchill Fellowship, Director Zoe Gilbertson researched small scale, bioregional textile processing and the collaborative governance and finance needed to support such initiatives. Zoe met a wide range of people from farmers, to designers, academics, entrepreneurs and co-operatives, all who share a similar vision of the future that Zoe writes about here. Please get in touch if you also share this dream:

    I have a dream to start a small fashion farm. The dream sees organic flax to make linen grown in rotation with heritage wheat, grains and pulses. Wool will be hand sheared from sweet natured Dorset Down sheep, regeneratively grazing in rotation on pasture and woodland. Nettles from the fringes will be harvested to create an experimental yarn. Mulberry Trees will be planted to give additional nutrients to grazing sheep but mainly to produce silk through feeding tiny silkworms. People will flock to the farm to learn about soil-to-soil systems and ancient artisanal skills, assisted with considered technology such as 3D printed spinning wheels and cycle powered machines. Eyes would be opened wide to the time, energy and extensive knowledge needed to make local, natural clothing through methods of processing, spinning and weaving cloth. Idyllic and educational it will lay bare the realities of making nature-centric clothing.

    A locally based food and fibre system will provide security against the increasing risk of global systems collapse. It will keep us safe, repair our soils and our souls. This slow and deliberate nature of production will prevent the excesses of consumption and the unhealthy thoughts and feelings that fashion can bring. The fashion farm is an adaptive process in which participants prepare for a more resilient society without jeopardising the needs of life’s future generations. It will coexist within a bioregional, relational ecosystem of small-scale, land related activities supporting regenerative livelihoods.

    The steps towards creating UK textile sufficiency require rethinking and dismantling many different capitalist systems. It will require new relationships to land and figuring out innovative systems of exchange and finance. A future fashion farm could help establish a dynamic clothing commons; creating products locally but sharing knowledge digitally so that similar localities can adapt and evolve process, plans and technique. It will require collective endeavour and enterprise. Building a shared culture around what it means to grow, own and wear clothing produced locally will help us consider more deeply what we want our clothing to reflect. Situated within a bioregion populated by a multitude of small-scale nested ecosystems that grow food and create useful materials alongside textile fibres the fashion farm will require integration into wider production systems and seasons. It will require learning to be we not I.”

    Read the full article here: https://liflad.substack.com/p/dreaming-of-a-small-fashion-farm

    Image: Devon Farm by Craig Cameron on Unsplash.

  • Giving up on Fashion

    In this article our Director, Zoe, talks about her tumultuous relationship with fashion and how she’s come to the view that a transformative, earth-centric mindset is what we must nourish rather than attempt to fix a broken industry. We all wear clothing and the plurality of our backgrounds and cultures will mean that all our reactions around the globe will be different. Our agency is to stop buying new, to disengage from what is considered ‘fashionable’ and to develop fibres and textiles locally from the land. We love clothing and the personal expression it brings but fashion is a mirror on society and we must recognise what it is reflecting. We cannot wait for governments or corporations to change the situation. Liflad invites everyone to examine their wardrobes and perspectives, to develop unique ways forward and tentatively build a new clothing culture. This may seem difficult or even impossible but what is fashionable starts in the mind, something that is within all our power. Read the full article at Zoe’s Substack.

  • Why did we begin Liflad?

    Liflad CIC is a brand new not-for-profit company. Woohoo! It’s so exciting to type those words. To share our excitement, I’d like to explain why the Directors, Hattie Emerson, Kat Davis and I have founded this company, why we believe it’s important, what underpins our aims and what we hope to achieve.

    I’ve been involved in sustainable fashion initiatives and various enterprises over 20 years. In that time the consumption of clothing and other resource intensive materials has increased exponentially and shows no sign of slowing. Consumption fills a void left by our current empty culture, bereft of purpose and meaning, focused on social media, shopping and individual pleasure. Our aim is to support and demonstrate enterprise that creates useful items from local resources using natural materials and minimal energy, in synergy with agroecological and regenerative methods.

    We exist to help provision an emerging culture; one that balances the needs of both nature and people, one that reflects fundamental human needs (rather than wants) whilst manifesting respect for all living beings. The UK lost much of its local textile knowledge hundreds of years ago when our early advancement of industrial processes and colonisation obliterated our indigenous knowledge. Blending old and new technologies, restoring long forgotten processes and bringing hydrid knowledge back into being is essential. We will facilitate networks, research, design and develop new economic, social and governance systems, in service of creating new livelihoods from natural material supply chains of fibre, textiles and clothing.

    Liflad will be an emergent container for creativity and practice and we are open to its development over time. We have been involved with enough ventures to understand that the thing you start out with may not be the thing you end up with. This is ok. We are dancing with possibility.

    A longer version of this post can be found on my substack, please follow me on there 🙏 :