Let's Talk.

Use the form on the right to contact me with your questions or inquiries.

 


Durham

Katie Berman and her textile adventures.

Musings

A growing collection of my musings including collaborations, thoughts about textiles and more.

Thoughts + Musings

Katie Berman

CONFESSIONS OF A FASHION REVOLUTIONARY

I have a confession. Two weeks before Fashion Revolution Week… I bought a new pair of shoes.

For some this may not seem like a big deal. But for someone like me who strives to add to my wardrobe ethically and responsibly, this is a deal of sorts. I don’t do that anymore, I think to myself. Let’s back up and give a lil’ context…

Rana Plaza collapse in April 2013. Photo: Munir Uz Zaman/AFP/Getty Images

Rana Plaza collapse in April 2013. Photo: Munir Uz Zaman/AFP/Getty Images

Fashion Revolution Week is a social media campaign that centers around demanding transparency in fashion supply chains around the globe. After the tragic collapse of the Rana Plaza garment factory on April 24, 2013 that killed 1,138 people and injured many more, much of the world’s eyes were open to the horrific working conditions of the factories that make our clothes. My eyes were one of the pairs that were opened that year and I haven’t been able to unsee. Not only does this movement demand transparency, but it demands that we do better in manufacturing and consuming.

Since gaining this awareness, I made a pact with myself about how I added to my wardrobe. Items that I added to my wardrobe had to be: made ethically to the best of my knowledge, handmade by me, or secondhand. And I’ve stuck to that pact…mostly.

This pact comes with difficulty. I’m not sure about my other conscious consumers, but things that I find hard to shop for are undergarments and shoes. “Ethical” undies are usually super basic and boring and expensive. And I find that shoes can be extremely pricey too. What’s a sister to do? I want to support ethical brands, but I have trouble wrapping my brain and budget around spending $30 on a single, nude pair of organic panties that are nooot. cuttte.

And that’s when it hits me— I still walk this line between selflessness and utter selfishness. This conversation comes down to being about… me. My look, my style, what I want. Don’t get me wrong— I think our clothing can be an amazing avenue to display our personalities and individuality and I love that about fashion. But how much am I willing to sacrifice for that? It’s not just about sacrificing money, it’s about what my money means. When I use my money to buy fast fashion items, what I’m ultimately doing is creating demand for a way of manufacturing that comes, in some cases, at the cost of human life. I’m saying exploiting other humans for my own wants and cheaper fashions are okay. And it’s not.

Dress is a me-made  In the Folds + Peppermint Magazine Peplum Top  made into a dress. The shoes I speak of are from  Naturalizer .

Dress is a me-made In the Folds + Peppermint Magazine Peplum Top made into a dress. The shoes I speak of are from Naturalizer.

So back to these shoes. I love them. I wear them. I want to wear them for years to come. And yet, I didn’t do my homework. In the end I cared more about myself and my style than about the possible conditions of the person who made them. I took a peek at Good On You, an organization that rates brands on their transparency and ethics, and found that this brand scored a “Not Good Enough”. Ooof.

So where do we go from here? We learn. I learn. Let’s do more research and do better next time. Let’s weigh what the true cost of a garment may be before I purchase it. One of the first in-depth talks I heard on this topic was from Josh Porter out in Portland. He shared that when it comes to responsibly consuming, it comes down to caring more deeply about the people that make our stuff than our stuff (paraphrased).

That has stuck with me ever since I heard it the first time. And for those that know me well, you know that people are at the center of my heart. I yearn to spend my days caring more deeply about others. And the folks that make our clothes and shoes count as others in my life.

I am grateful for this awareness, but some days I feel that I am tortured by it. Why can’t I just buy a cute pair of shoes and be done with it?? Sigh… So I want to hear from you, my fellow conscious consumers. Is there anyone else out there that feels tortured or has a moment of guilty shopping? What do you do about it?

And if you have any sources on where I can get ethically made, cute panties and bras— please do share.

Thanks for listening, my loves.
Talk soon,
- KB

In the Studio

Katie Berman

The different stages of hemp. Photo by  Anna Carson Dewitt.

The different stages of hemp. Photo by Anna Carson Dewitt.

ONE ACRE EXCHANGE HEMP ART SHOW
April 26-May 12

This week is the opening of a project I’ve been helping to curate for many months— a gallery show celebrating community built through a shared hemp fiber supply chain!

In this show, we have gathered together a group of artists (including yours truly), given them Durham-grown hemp fiber and asked them run with it. The show is sure to be diverse in content and show off the amazing possibilities that can come when farmers and artisans are brought together by a shared love.

Participating in conversations and practices around responsibly grown/made textiles is at the heart of my personal studio practice. My connection with the One Acre Exchange crew was kismet and I am beyond thrilled that I get to come alongside this team and navigate the new waters of what it means to grow and use industrial hemp in our county.

Final prepping for my piece  Hemp Texture Study #1  which will be featured in the show.

Final prepping for my piece Hemp Texture Study #1 which will be featured in the show.

The show opens this Friday, April 26 at The Carrack in Durham, NC. We’ll also be hosting a couple of additional events including a Piedmont Fibershed meeutp and a round table meeting for farmers and artists. Head to the Carrack’s website to get all the dets. I hope you can join us!

Curators:

Katie Berman
Tyler Jenkins
Courtney Lockemer

Featured Fiber Artists:

Nicole Asselin
Katie Berman
Alexandra Burchette
Janie Kimmel
Kelly Walsh

Events:

Artist Talk + Opening Reception:
Friday, Apr. 26 | 6:30-9:30p

Piedmont Fibershed Meetup:
Thursday, May 2 | 7-8:30p

Farmers + Artisans Meeting:
Sunday, May 5 | 5:30-7:30p

In the Studio

Katie Berman

To Find a Quiet Place  Wool and cotton, 23in x 11in

To Find a Quiet Place
Wool and cotton, 23in x 11in

This year I’ve made it a goal to invest more time in creating fine art work. It’s crazy to think that it’s been almost 7 years since I submitted work into a gallery show. After graduating art school and in the throes of trying to figure out how to merge my art with a sustainable income, I immersed myself in trying to create a retail line and fit into the handmade maker/market community. I spent the next few years hauling my wares to local markets, trying to figure out a world I didn’t know and in the end didn’t fit into. Though I was having a blast getting to know folks in the community and talking to people about my process, my business was ultimately failing. The work I was producing was not what the local, handmade consumer wanted.

To Find a Quiet Place  in progress.

To Find a Quiet Place in progress.

But what did I want? I wanted to create functional art— heavy on the art part. So I closed the business and spent a year reflecting, researching and opening myself up to creating fine art once again. I wanted to return to creating from deep places with broad, organic, gestural, abstract strokes. To make for the sake of making.

Art serves a purpose. It’s necessary. And that’s something I didn’t quite believe once I left school. Who would ever want my art?

So this year, I’m saying yes. Yes to gallery shows. Yes to putting my self out there. Yes to putting my work out there. Yes to being open minded about future businesses and endeavors. Yes.

I’ve said yes to not one, but two(!), shows so far this year— one that I’m helping to curate! And it’s only April. Who knows what the rest of the year may hold.

The work pictured at the top of this post is a piece I submitted to my first show this year. It was donated to a benefit show for Layers of Dignity. Created by two nurses, the gals at Layers of Dignity strive to support and clothe the sexually assaulted in our local community— layering them in their dignity. What an honor it was to donate a piece to their show. And, along with all of the other amazing submissions, it sold! They raised over $2,000 in art sales through our show. I don’t know where my works’ forever home is, but I’m so thankful.

Spoonflower Collab

Katie Berman

The knees of my much loved  Raleigh Denims  patched over and over. The colorful patch is made with  Spoonflower’s Dogwood Denim . Design is   Protea flannel flowers and wattle on dark polka dot  by mabouk.

The knees of my much loved Raleigh Denims patched over and over. The colorful patch is made with Spoonflower’s Dogwood Denim. Design is Protea flannel flowers and wattle on dark polka dot by mabouk.

Visible Mending 101: How to Extend the Life of Your Wardrobe

For those that know me well, you know that I am passionate about loving my clothes well, making them last and keeping unnecessary textile waste out of our landfills. I was so stoked when Spoonflower invited me to chat about just that on their blog this month! Check out our conversation and a quick tutorial on visible mending. Give your clothes a second (or third or fourth life in my case) with little mending TLC!