We were so excited for
Space2 is an award-winning charity working in community arts and social change. We are celebrating our 20th birthday this year, and have done so in style, with a sold-out show at Leeds Playhouse, and the creation of 20 tapestries focusing on the 20 years past and future. Working in Gipton, East Leeds, where most residents aren't reaching the social foundation (as is often the case in east sides), we have been exploring Doughnut Economics over the last year. More about Space2 here: https://space2.org.uk/
One big conclusion we came to is that we were already practicing it in various ways, one of which is Clothing Rebellion. A relatively new group, formed in 2021, Clothing Rebellion is comprised of some of our longest-serving volunteers from previous projects. It was formed as a proactive community-led response to socio-economic hardships in the local area, aiming to create an affordable place to buy good quality second-hand clothes (3 items for £1!) , intercept clothes that'd otherwise be thrown away, and upcycle donated clothes into bespoke items, with the mantra of 'Be Your Own Label'. Clothing Rebellion operates a weekly pop-up shop on Thursdays from 11-1 at The Old Fire Station in Gipton. The same group of committed volunteers operate The People's Pantry, which sells redistributed food also at 3 items for £1.
When we first heard about the inaugural Global Donut Day back in May, we wanted to get involved with it straight away! We wanted to do something that was distinctively a Space2 event. We pride ourselves on being celebratory, co-produced, creative, and community-focused, from our weekly groups to our big events. Clothing Rebellion had previously put on a couple of fashion shows before, but never as a standalone event! But what better than a fashion show to celebrate and showcase the amazing work our volunteers do, and the power of small grassroots initiatives in helping steer communities towards the Doughnut. We called the fashion show 'Plant A Seed', reflecting our aim to disseminate and popularise the concept of the Doughnut to people who may not have heard of it before, and encourage them to act and take something away from it, to positively affect the social and ecological where they live.
The show took place at The Old Fire Station in Gipton in front of a sell-out crowd! In the spirit of Clothing Rebellion's legendary bargains, tickets were just £2.50, inclusive of a few games of bingo, and some incredible vegetarian Caribbean food prepared by a small local business just down the road in Burmantofts. Vegetable curry, rice and peas, Johnny cakes, mac and cheese, salad, and some pineapple upside down cake for dessert. Portions were plentiful and we'd also got everyone some doughnuts for the table of course, so we were all very well fed!
After opening the show with a couple of short speeches about Clothing Rebellion and Doughnut Economics, the catwalk was declared open for business, and 25 models made their way down, each with considerable swagger and attitude, and with hair, makeup, and henna done artfully by the volunteers. I even had a go! Alongside most of the Clothing Rebellion volunteers, models included volunteers from other projects at The Old Fire Station, regular customers at the Thursday shop, and more.
Following a game of bingo and some delicious food, we put out an open call to the audience to join in and pick out some clothes for our second trip down the catwalk. Once we'd been round again (with a few extra models this time!), the pop-up shop was opened so people could have a chance to buy some of the brilliant clothes we keep from going to landfill, and a chance to avoid buying new, resource-intensive, plastic-laden fast fashion! We even got a special 'Blue Ribbon' rail out, packed with designer clothes and suits we'd been donated.
What a show it was, and what a way to start Leeds' week of Doughnut events. While grassroots initiatives like Clothing Rebellion may not have the power to address the root causes of shortfall and overshoot (yet!), events and programmes centring community resilience and collective joy are crucial for uplifting communities, instigating action, and popularising the Doughnut in new settings.
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