First Aid fashion surgery in Exeter

Mary Youlden
Authored by Mary Youlden
Posted Saturday, May 31, 2014 - 2:03pm

If you have clothes that need mending or restyling, or want to swap unwanted garments for hidden gems from another wardrobe, head to the Guildhall Shopping Centre next week.

From June 2-5 a group of students from the University of Exeter are taking over a shop in the centre as part of a series of global events and initiatives commemorating the first anniversary of the Rana Plaza factory disaster.

On April 24 last year, 1,133 people were killed and many more injured when the clothing complex collapsed in Dhaka, Bangladesh. After the disaster, dozens of brands quickly signed a binding agreement to improve factory safety in Bangladesh, and a small number offered compensation to the victims and their families.

The horrific event has been seen by many as an ethical turning point in the fashion industry, and has given rise to one of this year’s Grand Challenges at the University of Exeter.

From Monday, the students will be based in the Guildhall Shopping Centre, and will be finding out what people like about the clothes they wear, and what clothes they’d like to wear in the future.

As well as being happy to find the answers to any questions people have about their own clothes, there will also be a chance to replace or jazz up your garments at the shop.

On Tuesday, outgrown or underloved clothes and accessories can be brought in and exchanged on swap rails in Guildhall Square. On Wednesday, a First Aid Fashion Surgery opens in the ‘Talking Clothes’ shop. This is a chance to bring in beloved items that need mending or restyling. The students will be joined by talented textile students from Falmouth University and local menders and restylists.

Thursday will bring an interactive fashion show to the Market Square, where the students’ challenge is to literally wear what they’ve learned and encourage others to join in. From Monday to Thursday, visitors can also take part in Catherine Cartwright’s ‘How clean are your clothes’ art work, and take fashion ‘selfies’ in a London cab.

Geographer Dr Ian Cook, who is leading the Fashion Ethics after the Rana Plaza Factory Collapse Grand Challenge, said: “We’re looking forward to finding out what stories people can tell us about their clothes, and what they want us to find out for them. Our clothes not only contain stories of the people who made them, in Bangladesh or anywhere else. They also contain our own stories, of our friends, family members, work colleagues, shopping trips, what we can afford, what others say we look good wearing. We’re interested in finding out how these different stories come together in the clothes that people wear. We’ve tried to come up with some fun ways to do this. We’ll be easy to find. Just look for people wearing clothes inside out!”

Sheryel Ashwell, centre administrator at the Guildhall Shopping Centre, said: "This is a great way to raise awareness of the ethics of fashion and its production, and we are delighted to be able to help the University run this event. Ethical and sustainable shopping is important to us - not only do we have one of the most effective recycling systems in the city, we also support local businesses, especially via our successful weekly Street Food Market."

The team will be based in the Market Square and in a ‘Talking Clothes’ shop (previously Camber & Batch) between 11am – 4pm from Monday 2 June to Thursday 5.

Find out more and read their daily blog at or follow them live on twitter via the hashtag #insideout.

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