BA Menswear student Holly Sibley talks about her experience visiting the San Patrignano rehabilitation community in Italy
Supported by the Zegna Foundation and facilitated by the social responsibility department at LCF, Conscious Contemporary Tailoring brings communities together: the women of the weaving department at San Patrignano, the women of LCF’s Making for Change project and BA Menswear students. San Patrignano is a community which focuses on the rehabilitation of young people affected by drug issues. As an alternative to a prison sentence, the young people actively engage with their own transformation through education and learning to be specialists in a craft skill. Earlier this month students visited the community and wrote about their experiences for LCF News.
Words: Holly Sibley – BA (Hons) Fashion Design Technology Menswear student
Photos: Holly Sibley
The social and emotional reinvention the community offers is cathartic. Spending three days getting to know the women in the San Patrignano weave sector, we soon realised that life inside the community is analogous to life on the outside.
At 7am, Karol knocks on our door; ‘it’s time for breakfast’, and our day began. Walking through the serene gardens at the center, we arrived in the dining hall, which seats over a thousand members of the community under one roof. It was a truly exceptional and unique breakfast experience. As I sat and drank my coffee, trying to take it all in, I truly gained an understanding of the magnitude of San Patrignano.
In the weaving department, the women displayed their facilities and exhibited fabrics and experimental design work. The level of creative endurance and professionalism within the fabrics they produce was spectacular; seeing the process first-hand gave me real respect for the fabrics they create and the craft these women hold. We were later able to try out the process ourselves, using small looms that are incomparable in size to those that the women worked with. While it seemed liked using a toy to them, to me it all seemed very daunting. Laughing and chatting away with all the women, the satisfaction they gained from their work was clear.
Bethany Williams, the designer who collaborated with LCF on this project, was also visiting the community whilst we were there. After spending time with Bethany and the women, and being able to watch the ways in which they interact, it is evident that she has formed a friendship with them all, which I believe to be just as, if not more, valuable to the women than the fabrics they are producing. In this way, not only does this creative collaboration provide inventive sustainable solution for fabric production, it provides the opportunity for creative therapy for all involved. I felt very honoured to be welcomed into the community and I was lucky enough to have the chance to be able to speak to them all about their own personal experiences, and how this project has changed their lives for the better.
Bethany’s innovative techniques of are creating a new ethical production method, a necessity for the foreseeable future. The collaboration that I witnessed between Bethany, LCF, San Patrignano and the Zegna Foundation was unlike any other creative venture. The entire trip was a truly exceptional experience and gave me an insight into the possibilities of a creative, innovative, sustainable future, producing very competitive ethical fabrics. My outlook on sourcing fabrics and the method behind both creating and producing has been enhanced dramatically.