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.
OW Our World published an interview with Danielle Bruggeman, as part of their #changemakers series.
Fashion’s carefully constructed image of glitz, glamour and dreamy transport-me-away visions is starting to show cracks. Everyone knows and feels that the current fashion industry cannot go on like it is. Not only because we are depleting the planet’s resources and letting people far away pay the price for our craving for trends. But also because values like what it means to be human are being commercialised and exploited for financial gain. Time to take a critical look – from an academic perspective – at the fashion system and its social dynamics. That’s what Daniëlle Bruggeman, the new professor in fashion at ArtEZ Institute of the Arts, seeks to achieve. Not only within ArtEZ, but also with those who have a part in this industry.
If we seek radical change in the fashion industry, to me the first step is to gain a better understanding of what fashion is. Not just the system, but also its underlying values. Once we get our head around that, we can look into what else fashion is or can be. But in a world where fashion is often trivialised, finding an answer won’t be easy.
Many people – academia included – see fashion as superficial, as nothing more than outward show in today’s consumer society. But that’s not the way it is. Just like with other cultural expressions, fashion is the materialisation of the spirit of the times in which we live. What we wear is dictated by the fashion industry, depending on what’s going on in society.
So any proper analysis of the fashion system must take account of the social context. This means there’s no getting round that the industry is part of capitalism, where economic values often prevail over human values. If you apply that to fashion, we often think of dehumanisation in the supply chain. But this has just as much to do with how we depict people: as objects to be used by a brand or industry.
The fashion industry has developed throughout the years into a global self-sustaining system that is growing all the time. If we keep feeding it in the same old way, nothing will ever change. We need to seek out new alternatives to reshape the industry with different input. I believe that research and education can play an extremely important role in this respect.