Hello. I am Polly Leonard and I have spent my life, one motivated by a love of fibre, making, thinking and writing about textiles. I love the crispness of cotton, the stiffness of linen, the rustle and lustre of silk, the downy softness of mohair, and the weight of wool. This rich resource provides my inspiration.
Fibre may look like fluff, but It carries the weight of human history. It was the protagonist in the development of money, double-entry bookkeeping, and banking. Thread was woven into the sails blown by the winds of global trade. Cloth is key to the narrative of colonialisation and slavery, the Industrial Revolution, the computer age and the growth of the pharmaceutical industry. And, thanks to the world wide web, textiles are part of the technological revolution too. All of this history makes textiles a culturally loaded commodity that communicates identity more profoundly than any other. This fluff is powerful stuff.
Sadly, textiles are also at the forefront of the climate crisis; their production is tightly bound up with the inequalities that plague our society. I am embarrassed that this blight in our relationship with cloth has peaked in my lifetime. I was born in 1966, when an average person spent over 10% of their income on clothes and bought fewer than 25 garments a year. Fast forward half a century, and the average person now spends less than 3% of their income on clothes. Yet, we consume more clothing than ever before: nearly 20 billion garments a year, that is 70 per person - more than one a week. More than 40 million tons of textiles are discarded each year, an amount that has doubled in the last 20 years. Our love of textiles and insatiable desire for ever-cheaper production has created the climate crisis, but I believe that textiles also hold the key to a sustainable future.
I launched Selvedge in 2004 to celebrate our cerebral and sensual addiction to cloth while promoting skillfully made and carefully considered textiles. I fall more and more in love with textiles every issue, enamoured by the stories and lives of the talented makers we feature. These stories, told through the pages of the magazine, acknowledge the significance of textiles as a part of everyone’s story. I believe that the most interesting and evocative textile stories deserve to be shown in the best possible light and aspire to create an aesthetically beautiful experience.
As a continuation of the conversations that start in the pages of the magazine Selvedge produces a podcast, newsletter, blog and inspirational Instagram feed - featuring artisans, adventures and opinions. These avenues are a meeting point for our community and an entry point into the world of textiles for those looking for an original and broadening perspective. The Global Fashion Festival, a celebration of cloth, culture and creativity provides the opportunity for one hundred master artisans from eighty five countries to tell their stories, share their cultural heritage and demonstrate sustainability at its very best. Our tours, socials and workshops extend the opportunity to share knowledge and develop skills.
In the pages of Selvedge, it has been my privilege to present textiles differently and in that difference - so much a part of the aesthetics of the magazine - to find beauty.