Organic by John Patrick resort 2017

What role does education play in revolutionizing the fashion industry?

John Patrick launched his signature fashion label Organic in 2004 as an attempt to answer the question of whether sustainability is a possibility. His latest project Communitie serves both as a platform "fostering revolutionary ideas and supporting social and artistic exchange" and a shop space in Marfa, Texas.
Being a forerunner in his field, we asked John Patrick to share his thoughts on the future fashion scene–and what role education plays in revolutionizing its practices.

“What role does education play in revolutionizing the fashion industry?
That is a very difficult question. The chicken or the egg.

Since the educational system is for the most part a reflection of our societies, educators swing a broad range of concepts and commitments. Many of the schools I have worked with seem to have a very hands-off role in actually ‘educating’ design students, because the fashion industry itself is mostly a visual industry now, with the actual construction and build of products an afterthought. It is similar to the way the cooking world has evolved from a recipe based industry to a ‘search-hunt-cook’ universe.

In its most basic form ‘classic education’ doesn’t really have the power to ‘revolutionize’ the fashion industry because it is all part of the status quo. However, when you have powerful visionary educators on the inside you have the power to make changes. And the way a tremendous amount of education is done now, with the power of the internet at its core, presents a change component too.

« When I first started Organic by John Patrick I felt that if I could only plant the seed in a few people’s minds I would have great success. Little did I know that it would become an idea so big that it defied gravity »

If education was to actually revolutionize anything schools would need to put the students out into the field; similarly to archeology; and allow them to study the current supply chains and materials, including the farming and gathering of materials. Education doesn’t have to be done inside of a school. Self-education within the confines of a traditional school would probably be an ideal curriculum–that would in itself be revolutionary.

The fashion and design industry is slow to change, still to this day we are wearing 19th century clothing, albeit contemporary interpretations. The struggle for transparency makes a transition difficult and a ‘change’ or a ‘revolution’ is a slow process. But we are actually in that process now. A shift has happened globally and it is showing an entire industry that the calendars, processes, products and core values; the entire concept of ‘fashion’; is undergoing a cataclysmic end of story-scenario.

With the start of the ethical and sustainable movement in the early 2000s, the information that I desired was nowhere to be found. So I went to cotton farms, worked with The Organic Exchange and met with people from all over the world.

When I first started Organic by John Patrick I felt that if I could only plant the seed in a few people’s minds I would have great success… Little did I know that it would become an idea so big that it defied gravity. So in effect I educated a whole group of people from different areas of art and design and worked on projects as varied as making QR codes for garments and creating ‘source maps’ for a sheep and a sweater.

These processes spurred on further thoughts, ideas and projects, so that collectively we could all move forward in a new contemporary idea wave. We all continue to delve deeper and work to make things that feel right and authentic to our own ideas. The examples that our practices create are in fact education; the ‘book’ that teaches future generations. I felt that if I could work like Johnny Appleseed in planting the ideas and seeds for the ‘organic’ movement in fashion and design, it had a chance.”

Visit Organic by John Patrick here and be sure to check out John Patrick’s project COMMUNITIE based in Marfa, Texas. 

John Patrick's project COMMUNITIE fosters revolutionary ideas by promoting sustainable projects and education, and supporting social and artistic exchange.

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