Localism is recognised as a central tenet of sustainability that will, it is claimed, ‘solve at root many of society’s theoretical and practical problems’.

Its promise arises from two main sources:

  • the different way that power is divided when the scale of living is revised: smaller, local scales change the influence that people have over decisions that affect their lives;
  • the recognition that a community’s well-being depends on the health of the ecosystems it lives within, the fitness of which that same community is uniquely placed to understand and affect.

Localism is a process that subordinates economic decisions to communities and nature. It shapes activity by a region’s natural factors and by what is intriguing and vibrant in a place to ensure its long-term prosperity. It is typically small scale; characterised by self-reliance, practices shaped by traditions, necessity, climate and a distributed form of authority, leadership and political power.

Whereas the forces of globalisation act centrifugally, moving away from the distinction of a specific ecosystem or place; localism is a centripetal movement, concentrating economic and political power inside communities. Seen in the fashion context, it describes a highly-decentralised textile and clothing system reflecting ecological conditions, changed economic priorities, community empowerment, heterogeneous products, local stories, myriad dress practices and fewer goods.

As part of the Fashion Ecologies work, we edited a Special Issue on Fashion Localism in the Journal of Fashion Practice that explores fashion localism as a cornerstone principle and practice of sustainability where place-based and community values describe a fashion system reconceptualised by scale, stewardship and sufficiency.

This Special Issue included a paper by Kate Fletcher about the Fashion Ecologies project’s work ‘The Fashion Land Ethic: localism, clothing activity and Macclesfield’. The article can be downloaded via the Fashion Practice website. Should you have difficulties accessing the paper, please email Kate Fletcher for a copy.