Meeting at: The Yesterday Society Vintage Boutique, Unit 9 : Alley 1, Grainger Market NE1 5AE
Ending at: Ampersand Inventions, 4th Floor Commercial Union House, 39 Pilgrim St., NE1 6QE
How do women understand beauty today? What are the pleasures and agonies of fashion, consumerism and body image when shaped by the social ideals of what it means to be a woman or girl? How are local women empowering themselves to live aesthetic and sustainable lives? And if you’re worth it, what exactly is ‘it’ and how do we measure its value?
We joined writer Dr Alex Lockwood for a guided walk and podcast recital exploring the complex relationship between fashion, beauty, consumption and women’s lives in Newcastle and Gateshead. The collaborative exploration with fellow walkers asked participants to take a deeper look at the social and physical fabric of our urban environment through a lens of gendered space. The narrative included interviews with a dozen academics, artists, feminists, activists, charities and fashion industry workers. Choosing to listen to the podcast in a collective, mobile performance embeds our everyday choices around beauty, fashion and consumption into the broader currents of climate change, social inequality, city spaces, and the nature of human identity.
This co-participative walk is part of the Shift and Signal project, a series of podcasts and events exploring ways for us to go deeper in our adaptations to the contemporary environmental and social crises we face. Asked to think about what it is we have to relinquish if we’re to survive the current moment and create a sustainable future, this second episode continued the work of the first (on masculinity) to challenge the dominant identity formations propping up our unsustainable Western lifestyles. Questioning ideals of beauty and our global fashion industries furthers this investigation.
The walk ended at The Fashion Lab Project in Commercial Union House, followed by refreshments and discussion with fellow participants, and a showcase of work from women’s businesses, art, including a pop-up stall from The Women’s Trading Collective, a project of Newcastle’s The Millin Charity, who help women become makers, entrepreneurs and business owners; and an alternative DIY Zine-making demonstration and show from illustrator Nil Laverick.
Image: Orin Zebest