How Georgina Johnson Wants to Change the Fashion System

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Polymath and artist Georgina Johnson of The Laundry Arts – is launching her first book: The Slow Grind: Finding Our Way Back to Creative Balance, which seeks to incite change in fashion and beyond

Georgina Johnson has been busy over the last few years. She launched her brand Laundry Service in 2016 which – built upon the idea of creating “contemporary couture” – aimed to improve representation in fashion. Under this label, which is currently on hiatus, she worked with photographers Campbell Addy and Tyler Mitchell, who has contributed to AnOther, publishing lookbooks-cum-zines with both. In 2017, she launched the curatorial platform The Laundry Arts, which, like her brand, had a social mission at its core: highlighting and supporting the experiences of women and minority artists. Which leads us to Johnson’s latest project: her first book, The Slow Grind: Finding Our Way Back to Creative Balance, an anthology of essays addressing “radical change, sustainability, and how hyper-acceleration affects both the planet and people in a social, physical and psychological sense”.

Independently published and available to pre-order from today, the publication features contributions from figures across the worlds of fashion and art: from designer Bethany Williams, to activist Caryn Franklin, previously mentioned photographer Campbell Addy, writer and AnOther contributor Francesca Gavin, stylist Ib Kamara, writer and Noon editor Maisie Skidmore, writer and artist Wilson Oryema, and more. The result of a collaboration with the writer Tamar Clarke-Brown, who assisted in editing the book, and the designer Josh Woolford, who helped put it together, Johnson describes The Slow Grind as essential reading for “anyone and everyone that engages with the [fashion] system … Whether you are an environmental novice, futurist or simply someone who wants to slow down, gather their thoughts and figure out how they can safeguard our collective future.” Here, speaking in her own words, Johnson tells us the story behind the book and what she hopes it achieves.

“In 2018, I wrote a manifesto in collaboration with mental health activist Sara Radin titled Slow Fashion to Save Minds, for an evening of the same name, which I curated under The Laundry Arts. This manifesto was in response to both myself and Sara experiencing and witnessing anxiety, depression and burn-out as a result of precarious working conditions, bad practice, internalisation of productivity, value and discrimination within the fashion and creative industries. The manifesto was a blueprint for the utopia we sought; one centred on community, care and regeneration. Essentially, it was about looking at the whole, not just at waste and recycling – how sustainability had been marketed up until that point. I felt especially that mental health and race needed to be embedded into the sustainability algorithm, and that they had been considered separate issues for too long.

“The response to the manifesto was overwhelming. It resonated not only with those active in the fashion and creative spheres, but those in the wider creative constellation – DJs, artists and thinkers alike. I didn’t want to leave the conversation there because we see it all the time – with this accelerated state we are in, we miss the necessary longevity in conversation because we move on to the next thing so quickly, but I want to commit to dismantling these oppressive systems and that takes time; it requires you to intentionally slow down. A couple of months later, at the end of 2018, I started having conversations with people I admired about what is now The Slow Grind.

“My aim was to rethink the way we live. It’s been a process of pulling things out of myself and unlearning the deep-set beliefs ingrained within my person. With this book I want to radically upheave our sense of value. I want to encourage everyone to really think about their mental health and the mechanisation of their bodies; how we’ve missed the point and can’t continue believing that resources, people, the planet, labour, energy are limitless. We don’t have infinite resources. This mentality is way out of bounds because it then automatically increases the load when there is no need to do so. It’s about dramatically increasing your self-awareness and refuting the standards set and redefining needs. While it focuses on fashion and creativity most of the ideas in the collection can be adopted to any industry.

The Slow Grind is that guide for these uncertain times and a resource for the future industries we are envisioning now. We need the raising of voices, because it gives us permission to raise our own and actually take a step back and think about how we contribute to the unbalance. The Slow Grind invites you to think about how you can turn it around. The crisis is revealing the chasm in society, one if we looked at holistically we might have a chance at really tackling. Extreme autonomy and individualism are bedfellows with capitalism, that allow for this nonsensical and exceedingly damaging pace to take priority in our lives. I don‘t think most of us know why we are living so fast. But if we take the time to slow down and take the time to consider the intention in our actions as well as the significance of human action as it pertains to the fragility of life, then we could be on our way to revolutionising the way we live and centring radical care. Only then will no one be left behind.”

Pre-order The Slow Grind: Finding Our Way Back to Creative Balance here.