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.
One can hardly escape the presence of ‘the street’ in fashion these days. Opening a fashion magazine or website both street style (‘the best looks from around the world!’) and streetwear (‘essentials guide to’) seem unavoidable. The street has always played a pivotal – but ever-changing – role in the generation, presentation and perpetuation of fashion. Populated by flâneurs, badauds and rag-pickers, the street became a site for the advancement of urban commodity capitalism in the late nineteenth century, seducing people into the role of consumer through presenting the newest goods in shop windows, as Émile Zola accurately described in his novel Au Bonheur des Dames (1883). In the 1960s, the street - occupied by youth culture and its corresponding styles – placed itself at the centre of the fashion world. Trends were no longer dictated by the catwalk, but by what kids were wearing on the streets. From that moment onwards, the street became a mythical place, conceptualized as having made fashion more democratic, and consequently, more authentic as well.
Nowadays, the street has made way for the Internet. Where the street was once the place to see and be seen, now it functions more as the backdrop for what happens online. The Internet has not only radically changed our shopping behaviour but also profoundly altered the way we present and cultivate our individual and communal identities. Through our social media profiles, we can now see and be seen by infinitely more people that on the street. But the street holds power in fashion. In contemporary fashion media, ‘street style examples’ from all over the world and ‘how-to’s’ on attracting the attention of street style photographers during the fashion weeks are omnipresent. We can scroll through endless flows of images taken by street style photographers during fashion weeks in Copenhagen, Kiev, London, Milan, New York, Paris, Seoul, Stockholm and Tokyo among many other cities. If you had hoped to learn something about individuality or authenticity while scrolling through these images, you might be surprised. Fashion's self-referential habits are universal and stronger than ever, an observation that can also be made when studying the current streetwear trend. Once affordable and widely available products from streetwear, sportswear and workwear brands are now commodified into exclusivity through the Midas touch of hip fashion houses and their ‘self-mythologizing' creative directors.
“It's only street style if it was photographed," is a proposition than can be read the first article of this inaugural issue of Press & Fold magazine. The remark is an interesting one to keep in mind while browsing through this magazine. It makes you think: “When is it just plain clothes?” and “When does something become waste?". So many questions can be asked, and so many topics can be discussed in relation to fashion and the street, and we tried to touch some of them in this issue of Press & Fold. In a time where everything in fashion is in flux so little of it seems to be examined on the pages of fashion magazines, forever trying to sell us more things we don’t actually need. Press & Fold wants to discuss, but more importantly, imagine what fashion would like if we take away advertising and editorials, take away the need to sell something through the magazine, and instead focus on having conversations on the production, presentation, consumption of clothes and the contexts in which this takes place. Press & Fold focuses on a fashion reality that isn’t based solely on consuming the latest fashions but on our experiences through fashion, seeking an alternative fashion discourse that goes beyond treating fashion as a commodity.
As we see imagination as a collective practice rather than an individual one, we would like to thank all our contributors for imagining with us.