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Gayil Nalls, Ph.D.
Gayil Nalls Ph.D.

Re-Made in America

FLIP— Fashion Lab in Process

Daria Dorosh, PhD, an artist, designer and activist, has been part of the New York art and fashion worlds for all of her adult life. She has also been a Professor at Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) for over forty years. But it was only on September 10th, 2010, in tandem with NYC' Fashion's Night Out that she decided to launch, with the exuberance of someone half her age, an idea she has long incubated - Fashion Lab in Process or FliP (TM).

"I see an industry that is out of sink with the way people enjoy living their lives. I established FliP to creatively up-cycle discarded or unsold mass produced garments and give up-and-coming fashion designers a public platform," Dr. Dorosh said. "FliP is a perfect answer for retailers with a load of stagnant fashion stock and a drop in traffic. FliP is all about real social engagement with the customer- a rare commodity in fashion retailing these days. We establish a Fashion Lab in Process, a re-make area within a store, and our interactive performances entice customers in to witness the process and become involved as mass-produced fashion becomes exquisite one-offs."

At the launch event held at the American Folk Art Museum, FliP showed its first collection of garments and accessories to the public in its uniquely characteristic 'fashion theater' program (see picture of Dorosh's Jacket make-over). The event featured six of the highly-talented eco-designers now working with FliP: Meiling Chen of Fearless Dreamer, Phaedra Elizabeth, Laura Bond, the local sustainable design collaborative of Melissa Kirgan and Xing-ZhenChung-Hilyard of Eko- and PattyO, who provided a live garment make-over. The lab's concept is to help tackle sustainability issues by revaluing overflow and unwanted fashion in a highly creative way, simultaneously developing and promoting other ideas about fashion, ecological balance and fashion job creation. "It's fashion theatre- and people love being invited into the creation process of a garment makeover because they walk away with so much more than a garment. The process opens people up and gets their minds going. They begin to see renewal value in other things. The retailer gets income and reduces waste stream, it creates a traffic flow that spills over into other departments, and...very important- the retailer gets big credit for their sustainable practice."

By involving the public in a unique fashion experience where the customers are able to "get inside the creative mind," witnessing moments of inspiration, and the emergence, evaluation, rejection or refinement of ideas, FliP provides wonderful flashes of insight. It helps people understand that creativity is a process where old ideas connect to new ideas that are examined for their value, quality and importance before they are executed. The process reinforces the reason to take risks and find out what inspiration and creative things can come out of open, relaxed, unconstrained proactive discussions. As Dr. Dorosh said, "You can look at it as ‘the product' being a stepping stone to ‘a process.' It's a model of creativity for the customer. It's amazing how many people always wanted to design their own fashion. The customer will know they have the only piece like theirs and the satisfaction that more things didn't end up in the landfill. If you see something made-over it nurtures the hope of renewal. It encourages growth because you are in a process. People are looking for a way to connect. Also, by being an incubator for starting out designers, there is a huge opportunity for new product development."

Dr. Dorosh has created a company whose business is to recapture value from a mass fashion waste stream, while at the same time creating additional forms of value for a business and its customers. Most importantly, she wants to help designers from the huge talent pool she has nurtured get established and find their public. Like the cultural shifts of the Slow Movements to experience life in a different way, like Slow Food, Slow Travel, Slow Parenting and Slow Design, FliP's distinctive and pleasurable Slow Fashion approach of reconstructing gives people the choice and enjoyment of stepping-out of the mass produced lifestyle of wearing garments made in China, India and the United Arab Emirates, by turning them into original fashion statements ‘Re-made in America.'

About the Author
Gayil Nalls, Ph.D.

Gayil Nalls, Ph.D., is an interdisciplinary artist based in New York.

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