By Darren McDonald. In a world fueled by fast food, instant messaging, and immediate gratification, Charllotte Kwon suggests an entirely different way of starting your day — by pulling on ‘slow clothes’.
Kwon, who received an honorary degree from the University of the Fraser Valley in June, returns to UFV to present a lecture titled Waiting for the Monsoon: Slow Clothes in India. Her appearance kicks off the UFV President’s Lecture Series for 2014/15.
Kwon’s lecture begins in UFV’s Abbotsford Lecture Theatre (B101) at 4 p.m. Monday, Oct. 6. Through video and images she will lead a tour of slow clothes in India designed to make the audience rethink everything that goes into a garment.
“It’s a responsible, compassionate answer to a daily necessity,” she says.
“Slow clothes are made with an eye to the human impact of clothing production rather than the need accelerate production to meet a fashion trend.”
UFV President Mark Evered established this lecture series to bring informed and inspirational speakers to UFV and our community, to share their experiences, challenge our views, and promote dialogue — and he’s thrilled with the next installment.
“We’re especially happy to have such an inspiring alumna and colleague return to UFV,” Evered says. “Charllotte’s work is changing lives and building communities around the world, and teaching us important lessons about responsible and transformational business practices right here at home.”
As an artist, documentary filmmaker, educator, businesswoman, and humanitarian, Kwon works tirelessly as an advocate for the preservation of tradition and craft and the betterment of society. Her compassion, drive, and knowledge have changed the lives of many through symposia, master-class workshops, and natural dye teaching, all driven by the Maiwa Foundation, which is dedicated to the preservation of traditional craft and to employment, empowerment, and the eradication of poverty through craft in developing nations.
Her efforts and dedication to the preservation of the traditional extended to the boundaries of human experience when Maiwa Foundation (started in 1997) helped raise $35,000 for shelter, food, and medical supplies after an earthquake rocked India’s Kutch region in 2001.
Kwon became intrigued by plant dyes while travelling through Indonesia, Thailand, and China. She found craftspeople struggling to find fair market value for their work; often undercut by mass-produced pieces made with artificial dyes, poor materials, and machines.
She set up a table at Granville Island Market, made $3,000 one Christmas weekend, and never looked back.
Her Maiwa retail store on Granville Island that sells artisanal clothing, bedding, jewelry, and art also includes warehouse and workshop areas that employ about 30 people.
The non-profit Maiwa Foundation — connected to but separate from Kwon’s for-profit business — raises money for small grants and larger projects that don’t fit within traditional non-governmental organization requests. Small grants are from $500 to $1,500, helping craftspeople do everything from buy a bike to build a well.
Kwon’s work has supported the University of the Fraser Valley as well, through the mentorship, supervision, and the hiring of UFV fashion students.
For more, visit http://events.ufv.ca/events/presidents-lecture-series-charllotte-kwon/.