The Fashion Professorship aims to rethink the cracks in the fashion system and the role that fashion plays – and could potentially play – in relation to urgent social, cultural, environmental and political developments in contemporary society. We envision an alternative and more engaged future of fashion in which we do more justice to fashion’s human dimension. Through research, design and critical thinking, we analyse and develop alternative approaches, systems, vocabularies and strategies. In doing so, we aim to activate the power of fashion to reimagine future bodies, future materials and future makers to contribute to resilient futures and inclusive societies.
In this Creative Culture Talk in Lux in Nijmegen (March 12, 2018), Hanka van der Voet and Daniëlle Bruggeman discussed the current state of fashion in relation to sustainability.
Fashion is in a crisis. Today, there is an increased awareness that fashion – as the supreme expression of consumer culture and the capitalist system – is unsustainable in an environmental, social, cultural, ethical and material sense. We have generally lost touch with the blood, sweat and tears that go into making clothes. The death of more than a thousand garment workers in the Rana Plaza collapse in 2013 and documentaries like The True Cost (2015) offer wake-up calls regarding the dehumanized labour taking place in garment factories. It is increasingly urgent to create interventions in the current fashion system and to redefine its meaning and relevance.
This talk critically reflects on how the fashion industry aims to move towards an alternative, circular system. Many companies are criticized for ‘greenwashing’. And a recent report by Greenpeace (2017) claimed that the commercialized promotion of the myth that clothes could be “infinitely recycled” may even be increasing guilt-free consumption, which fails to tackle the larger problem of overconsumption.
This talk will shed light on the recent rise of critical fashion practitioners who use a research-based approach to interrogate the current fashion system. In doing so, Hanka van der Voet and Daniëlle Bruggeman will discuss the importance of alternative value systems and new vocabularies to think through fashion and sustainability, such as ‘aesthetic sustainability’ and ‘emotional durability’. These are essential steps in redefining what it means to have a more sustainable and ethical relationship with the material resources of the earth.