A Sartorial Education: 5 Inspiring Fashion TED Talks by Awesome Women

TED talks

TED Talks have been inspiring the world with their knowledge, wit, humor and desire to connect communities since they first came into the online presence in 2006. We’ve rounded up our 5 favorite TED talks on fashion, which is a relatively sparsely explored topic in the TED arena, even though the creation of clothing impacts and involves many industries and incorporates everything from natural resources, to human rights style, and art. Check out the 5 very different talks by 5 awesome women, and let us know which one is your favorite “idea worth spreading”!

suzanne lee

Suzanne Lee: Grow your own clothes

“What I’m looking for is a way to give material the qualities that I need. So what I want to do is say to a future [insect], ‘Spin me a thread. Align it in this direction. Make it hydrophobic. And while you’re at it, just form it around this 3D shape.” —Suzanne Lee

Director of the eponymous BioCouture research project, Suzanne Lee is the first fashion designer to successfully “grow” fabric in her bathtub out of bacterial-cellulose. With an avid interest in ecological and sustainability issues around fashion and textile applications, Miss Lee has taken on the mission of working with scientists to investigate whether synthetic biology can engineer optimized organisms for growing products like garments and shoes. Listen to her talk on how she discovered that “growing” your own fabric is possible!

cameron russell

Cameron Russell: Looks Aren’t Everything. Believe me, I’m a model. 

“[Models] have the thinnest thighs and the shiniest hair and the coolest clothes, and they’re the most physically insecure women probably on the planet.” —Cameron Russel

Cameron Russell is a Victoria’s Secret model with extensive experience in the fashion industry through her decade long modeling career. But this model is far from the stereotypical cover girl, as artistic passions have brought her to run blogs and projects for grassroots public art, political power and radical demonstrations of positive social change. Russell has also co-founded Interrupt, a webzine that discusses identity, women is society and taking action. Watch her TED talk on the inside story of working as a fashion model, and using the position to create positive change.

jessi arrington

Jessi Arrington: Wearing nothing new

“Color is powerful. It is almost physiologically impossible to be in a bad mood when you’re wearing bright red pants.” Jessi Arrington

The founder and owner of Brooklyn-based designer firm WORKSHOP, Arrington is as colorful as her work. This lively lady names rainbow her favorite color, has taught design classes at renowned universities, is a board member of AIGA/NY and has carried the branding for several prestigious labels. This girl-next-door meets powerhouse gives her TED talk on her hobby of wearing nothing new; she carried out a 7 day experiment where she traveled to LA with nothing but 7 pairs of undies, buying all of her clothes at local thrift stores. Would you try this meditation on conscious consumption? We would!

rachel botsman

Rachel Botsman: The Case for Collaborative Consumption

“With every trade we make, comment we leave, person we flag, badge we earn, we leave a reputation trail.” —Rachel Botsman

Rachel Botsman is an innovation consultant who co-authored the book What’s Mine is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption, which covers the power of collaboration and sharing through our new social, consumer and local networks. Botsman is also the founder of The Collaborative Lab, which acts as an incubator for startups, big corps and local governments to come together to deliver innovative and equally beneficial solutions. Her TED talk doesn’t focus directly on fashion, but uses examples from fashion to indicate how powerfully collaborative consumption can transform the fashion business, the way it is consumed and turned into positive catalysts.

johanna blakley

Johanna Blakley: Lessons from fashion’s free culture

“One of the magical side effects of having a culture of copying is the establishment of trends. People think this is a magical thing. How does it happen? Because it’s legal [in the fashion industry] for people to copy one another.” —Johanna Blakley

Johanna is the Deputy Director of the Norman Lear Center at the University of Southern California, which has afforded her the opportunity to explore how our entertainment industry interacts with commercial, political and social habits. Her particular area of interest is the impact of intellectual property rights on innovation, ownership of creative content and the lack of creative ownership in fashion. Watch her TED talk on the latter area of interest, and learn about her views on the benefits of this creative freedom in the world of fashion.

Images: TED

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