Refashion East 9th - 10th May 2015

At its peak in the early 19th century the British cotton industry alone was producing an astonishing eight billion yards of cloth. That’s 4.5 million miles of cloth, or enough to circle the earth 182 times!

Two world wars later, and with the emergence of competitive global markets, the UK garment industry went from boom to bust and all but disappeared. Just between 1980 and 2013 jobs fell from 800,000 to 100,000. Meanwhile the fashion industry still brings £26 billion to our economy, but there’s a growing disconnect between the clothes we wear and the journey they make before reaching our wardrobes.

Petticoat Lane in Esst London, the venue for Hubbub's RefashionEast event

But the past few years have shown a thread of hope in reviving a generation of lost sewing skills in the UK. Sales of sewing machines and haberdashery kits are on the up and we’re seeing more and more people getting crafty with their garments, from the revival of the old ‘Make, Do and Mend’ to upcycling. Disasters such as Rana Plaza have acted as a catalyst for people who want to be reconnected with how and where their clothes are made.

This weekend (9/10 May) Hubbub is launching Refashion East to celebrate the heritage of the fashion industry in the UK, beginning with Spitalfields in east London. The old home of the East End rag trade has seen some changes over the years, from waves of immigrant bringing their multifarious textile skills to the area, to the tattoos and flat whites that recent gentrification has brought with it.

Everything in Colour workshop, taking place during Hubbub's Refashion East weekend

It’s a unique, diverse and often overlooked part of London, so we’ve chosen it as the location for a series of events including workshops from Wool and the Gang, Everything In Colour, Hatastic and the locally-based Heba Women’s Project. There’ll be a clothes swap and a pop up shop of ethical labels such as Birdsong, Everything In Colour and Araminta.

On Saturday a ‘Huguenots to Hipsters’ walking tour will take in the fashion history of the area, home to streets such as Fashion Street, Threadneedle Street and Petticoat Lane. On Sunday at the Whitechapel Gallery the Empathy Museum will host a ‘human library’; where the books are people from throughout the fashion industry. Join them for a natter and in doing so understand more about what they do and how the industry works.

We hope you can join us for a festival of fashion making, seeing and doing.

The full programme can be found at

About the author
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Gavin is one of the Founders of Hubbub. Previously Gavin was Senior Client Manager at Global Action Plan, one of the UK’s leading environmental charities. He also set up the UK’s first online carbon calculator and the UK’s first environmental lifestyle magazine Ergo.

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