Halifax textile designer pushing to create local fiber industry with help of farm

A textile designer and weaver in Halifax, N.S., says people can begin to tell stories through their clothes again if they become in control of the designing process.

“Right now we purchase all of our clothing from overseas. We don’t have a say of the color palette or the material palette or the knit structure,” said Jennifer Green, an assistant professor at NSCAD University, also known as the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design.

“In the past, we were the creators of all of our clothing, and clothing was a really important vehicle through which we told stories about our land or our place or our cultures,” she added.

She’s set on bringing that tradition back through the use of the flax plant, which is used to make linen.

Launching a local natural fiber industry

Green is researching the history of flax, hemp and wool grown and processed in Nova Scotia with the goal of reviving and developing a local natural fiber industry in the province.

She says while Canada does not have a very prolific textile industry, many of the key components are attainable.

“Most of the clothing that we buy actually has a plant origin. So, for example, cotton comes from the cottonseed of the cotton plant and it gets spun or knit into the garments that we buy, and linen comes from the flax plant and wool comes from sheep,” said Green.

“So a lot of the materials we’re using have a plant or animal origin that we could create here.”

But fast fashion is dominated by cotton and polyester, which have very heavy environmental footprints and that’s something Green wants to stay away from.

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