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.
During the ‘Fashion Colloquium: Searching for the New Luxury’ we will actively engage in in-depth conversations and explorations on the role of fashion in urgent socio-cultural, environmental and economic developments in contemporary society. Fashion is in dire need of more value-based critical thinking as well as design-driven research to thoroughly explore, disrupt, redefine and transform the system. How can we activate the power of fashion – highlighting the role of design, imagination and aesthetics – to act differently and to move towards more resilient futures and equitable societies? How can we envision and create an alternative and more engaged future of fashion that does more justice to fashion’s human dimension? How can academic research, critical thinking and creative interventions help to (re)imagine and build another kind of future where ‘fashioned’ human beings and materials have more agency?
At this two-day conference, we will collectively investigate how fashion can serve as a tool for creating societal transformation in itself. We will deeply analyze and critically reflect on the cracks in the system, while simultaneously developing affirmative, alternative approaches. Together, we will share visions and offer concrete suggestions on how to re-engage with the practice of making fashion, with our material resources and how to revalue fashion’s human dimension, aiming to transform the often dehumanized production of fashion. This starts with fundamentally rethinking and redefining the value systems from which we live and work, and engage with each other and with the material objects that surround our bodies. We are proud and excited to host more than 40 experts who will present their academic research, visions, designs, concepts, future scenarios and new materials, offering a deeper insight into alternative approaches to the pressing issues in the fashion system today. We believe that research-through-design and research through artistic and creative practices leads to new insights, thought-provoking questions and radical imaginations regarding urgent challenges in fashion and society.
As argued in Dissolving the Ego of Fashion (2018), when aiming to create systemic change and design alternative systems that start from ethical engagement, it is important to not only focus on the level of the system, nor solely on the level of materials and technologies. We also need to explore an alternative future of fashion at the level of subjectivity and identity – taking into account personal values and emotional connectivity – while recognizing the affective relationship between human beings, sensorial bodies and material objects. It is important to focus on an embodied approach to acknowledge the ethical dimension of human subjectivity and the agency of all people and materials involved. Fashion generally operates as a homogenous system, yet at a deeper level there is diversity at the heart of the system. We need to do more justice to the blood, sweat and tears of all diverse embodied subjects involved in the system. In doing so, it is essential to further explore the emotional value of fashion and the affective relationship between human beings and material objects of fashion, which is particularly important for the debates on sustainability and circularity. Let’s initiate designing human ecosystems, and learn from nature and from alternative systems in other cultures. Many bodies and materials in fashion need to matter more. They need more love, care and attention. Fashion matters, design matters, humans matter, new technologies matter and matter matters.
The ‘Fashion Colloquium: Searching for the New Luxury’ starts from cooperative thinking to build ecosystems of people from diverse backgrounds who want to share expertise, and genuinely commit to contribute to realizing our shared visions. We will build upon existing networks and expertise and develop new ones, to nurture long term and durable relationships to think, research, make and act cooperatively. On behalf of the ArtEZ Fashion Professorship, I wish you an inspiring and thought-provoking conference and I am looking forward to continuing the conversations that we start at the Fashion Colloquium in order to further develop our research community and to take collective responsibility together.
May 31 – June 1, 2018 in Arnhem, The Netherlands
ArtEZ University of the Arts, in collaboration with State of Fashion
London College of Fashion, Wageningen University & Research, and Radboud University Nijmegen