Pratt Manhattan Gallery will present “Ethics + Aesthetics = Sustainable Fashion,” the first American exhibition to investigate the sustainable practices of American fashion designers, many of whom are based in New York City. The exhibition will run from November 20, 2009 through February 20, 2010 and will be celebrated with an opening reception on Thursday, November 19 from 6-8 PM. The exhibition and opening reception are free and open to the public.

“Ethics + Aesthetics” is guest curated by Francesca Granata and Sarah Scaturro. Granata is a fashion theorist and independent curator who is completing her Ph.D. in fashion history and theory at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, London. She also lectures at Parsons The New School for Design. Scaturro is a textile conservator at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum and adjunct instructor at the Fashion Institute of Technology.

Granata and Scaturro conceived of “Ethics + Aesthetics” as a way of building on established sustainable practices of using recycled, renewable, and organic fibers and the employment of fair labor, while deepening the public’s understanding of what constitutes sustainability within the fashion system. “While the concepts of recycling and using organic materials are quite familiar in fashion, we are seeking to broaden the definition of what constitutes sustainable fashion by exploring ideas such as modularity, minimalism, and memory,” said the curators.

The curators have organized the exhibition around the themes of “Reduce, Revalue, and Rethink” that reference the traditional ecological mantra of “Recycle, Reuse, Reduce” while acknowledging the importance of aesthetics within fashion design.

“Reduce” investigates how designers employ minimalist design as well as innovative materials and pattern-making to promote garment versatility and longevity through modular and reversible garments that employ streamlined and multi-functional design. Among the designers who most explicitly tackle these issues are SANS, a fashion company run by Lika Volkova and Alessandro DeVito that is known for its sculptural and modular silhouettes; Uluru, a sustainable clothing line by Caroline Priebe that is inspired by innovative construction; Loomstate, a company founded by Rogan Gregory and Scott Mackinlay Hahn that utilizes certified organic cotton in its designs; and Bodkin, a sustainable women’s collection by Eviana Hartman that comprises modern, smart design.

“Revalue” underlines the importance of creating an emotional engagement with the wearer by focusing on the materiality of clothes and their ability to retain memory and history. Upcycling, wherein old clothing is recycled in such as way as to add value, and handcrafting, in which the hand of the maker is
visible, are two emerging areas of sustainable fashion that suggest ways in which garments can become less disposable. Designers who explore this area are 2009 Council of Fashion Designers of America/Vogue Fashion Fund finalist Alabama Chanin, a lifestyle company that focuses on creating handmade products through a combination of new, organic, and recycled materials; Susan Cianciolo, an independent fashion designer known for her artistry, handcrafting, and use of cherished vintage textiles; and SUNO, a workshop-driven line by Max Osterweis that produces colorful garments, many from one-of-a-kind vintage African textiles.

“Rethink” questions the fashion cycle and its dependence on fast and constant change by suggesting a paradigm shift in the way we think about fashion. Artists such as Kelly Cobb, Tiprin Follett, Zoë Sheehan Saldaña, and Andrea Zittel, as well as the fashion line Slow and Steady Wins the Race, promote a slower fashion tempo by suggesting alternative ways to produce and consume fashion. Their practice fosters the creation of meaningful networks and relations through clothing as well as challenging the seasonality of the fashion trade.

The full color catalog is made possible by a generous grant from the Coby Foundation, Ltd., a New York-based organization that funds projects in the textile and needle arts fields. The majority of the Coby Foundation’s support goes to exhibitions and education programs that combine excellent scholarship and effective interpretation. For more information please visit

The exhibition design was completed by current graduate interior design students as part of the Exhibition Design Intensive course led by Professor Jon Otis.

For more information, please call 212-647-7778 or email More information on this and all gallery exhibitions and events is available at Follow Pratt Manhattan Gallery on Facebook by searching “Pratt Manhattan Gallery” and follow Pratt Exhibitions on Twitter at “PrattGallery.”