SEARCHING FOR A MAINSTREAM SOLUTION THAT CHANGES OUR BEHAVIOR IN FASHION CONSUMPTION!
Considering the most important shifts in the way we consume and the changes of the general behaviour of our society, there are some fads worth following. The happenings within the fashion industry in the 80s and 90s as they are precisely described in Naomi Kleins "No Logo" from a perspective of a time where I wasn’t questioning anything and took everything for granted, I do feel that now is the time to not only describe the happenings and changes but rather make an actual effort to search for solutions that could change the way we consume fashion.
As a little girl I admired the adults around me for being capable of making clothes and as I grew older I started to observe a loss of the making culture. As there are some topics like fashion, globalisation, economy etc. I feel rather sensitive about, the unsustainable and unethical way of how we consume fashion started to bother me a lot. I couldn’t stop thinking of possible solutions and the need to finally investigate the question of how to bring the actual making of fashion back to our culture – which is the main topic of my planned thesis.
There are several niche movements that I find fascinating but, as already said, those are rather niche – and with niche you cannot really convince masses to reach your aim. So in the end the result I am seeking for is a highly mainstream solution for a niche idea. I am trying to investigate possibilities on how to combine ethically correct, locally made fashion that is still affordable for a wide range of people by studying sociological in- sights and successful business models in other disciplines.
Due to the fact that human performance is much more expensive in Europe than it is in Asia, the first authority is to think of a solution where owning less is rather a virtue. Diverse fads referencing to the "Age of Less" make this aspect of the project promising but can be simultaneously regarded as one that needs to be investigated deeper. Furthermore, the shifts in other disciplines towards open structures indicate that the fashion industry is the next to follow this path.
Few decades back fashion wasn’t considered as a hobby of the mainstream as clothes had rather a predominantly functional character. Fashion as we consume it today was a privilege of a closed society of fashion makers enclosed with well kept secrets, where only the rich ones had access to massive ownership, which breeds the discussion of a democratization of fashion. A shift, which has been enabled by the breakthrough of companies providing us with cheap fast fashion; but a real democratization of processes can be also seen as a natural consequence of the cult of the amateur uniting in the WWW-spheres – a shift upcoming across several disciplines.
Giving the example of software engineering, "the traditional roles of the designer and consumer have shifted dramatically".1
What Cache suggested for architecture by asking "how to construct frames that function as folds rather than rigid boundaries between outside and inside, so that the movement of images pervades the built structure" 2 , Otto von Busch introduced to the field of fa- shion with his theoretical thesis„FASHION-able," where he explores and develops "new form of fashion design practice in which the work of the amateur, whom has been assigned by a prestigious fashion company, is replaced by the close cooperation of user and designer,"3 which in my opinion means that the role of the designer changes from a straight top down practise to an interactive peerconomy. As Otto von Bush is giving some drastic examples of radical protests against global brands like H&M, Mango or In-ditex with their well known brands like Zara or Berschka, I’d much rather concentrate on practises that are within the modern economical frame and investigate the possibility of proconsumerism in fashion.
The increasing popularity of vintage clothes indicates a need for unique pieces which can be seen as a sign that we arrived at the top of Ronald Haddock’s interpretation of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, where he describes that in case of a surplus people seek for individualisation, as they need to set themselves apart from the ground and establish their position as individuals.4 At the same time, looking for answers in the field of individualization I’d like to explore the business model IKEA managed to introduce to their customers, considering the willingness to buy separate components and finishing the furniture within their own four walls, which in case of the popular ‚Billy’ shelf saves IKEA around 15 million working hours in average.5
Accompanying the theoretical part of my thesis, I’d like to start using the evidence for a platform, online or offline, which connects users to producers to start revolutionize the way we consume fashion and raises the awareness towards a more sustainable thinking of fashion by consuming less. Due to that there is no fixed outcome but rather an expectation of a serendipity, or in other words a lucky find of a mainstream solution for a niche idea. I’d like to explore a wide range of insights from other disciplines and combine those within the interest of fashion production. Simply, I’d like to achieve the same understanding of fashion consumption we’re accustomed towards food.
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1 Blauvelt, A. 2008, MaHKU Reader Critical Studies for 2011-2012: Towards Relational Design, p. 3 (http://bit.ly/lh3gVI)
2 Harris, P.A. 2005, „To See with the Mind and Think through the Eye: Deleuze, Folding Architecture, and Simon Rodia’s Watts Towers“ in
Deleuze and Space, Ed. I. Buchanan, Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh, p. 39 3 von Busch, O. 2008, FASHION-able: Hactivism and Engaged Fashion Design, Johan Öberg, Göteborg, p. 27 4 Bernau, P. 2007,„Was die Welt bald kauft“, Frankurter Allgemeine, 18. September 2007, http://bit.ly/u0Arm4, (access 11. December 2011) 5 Voß, G. & Rieder K. 2005, Der arbeitende Kunde: Wenn Konsumenten zu unbezahlten Mitarbeitern werden, Campus, Location 726 (Kindle)