Saturday, June 20, 2009

Reshaping attitudes

Shape is literally present in Arnhem. The research for new shapes was everywhere; researching new form and sculpting new materials. The symposium Reshaping attitudes chose substance over matter; reshaping attitudes was feeding the debate about the fashion industry or even the fashion system itself.

The economic crunch has made clear to everybody what was maybe previously only visible to some sparsely spread initiated people; the fashion system is sick, it has suicidal tendencies. The speed of change is so high, that even fashionistas can’t keep up. Fashion insiders have long ago chosen not to try to keep up, they just dress in Black. The fashion system is depleting our planet, every season it produces an overload of new styles to wear for too short and it’s so poorly made, that before you know it, it ends up in a heap for sale on Queensday. So something has got to change. The crisis turns out to be a welcome catalyst for change.

In the Reshaping attitudes symposium, different speakers had been invited to give their opinion about the crisis in the fashion industry (and system) and to launch their ideas about what alternatives the fashion industry (and system) has.

Some like Otto van Busch has been onto it for long. He has challenged the existing system with artistic happenings for long; organizing huge swap parties and repair & remake workshops in galleries and museums. All his initiatives seem to directed at exposing the over-stretched fashion-system, and his initiatives also demonstrate that attractive alternatives are possible.
Beyond Green, Amsterdam, November 12th

Beyond Green, Amsterdam Nov 12th

Anne Chapelle, CEO of a Belgian fashion conglomerate BVBA32 gave us a very personal account of her breakdown after the oct 2008 shows, after which she shut herself up for 2 weeks to rethink the system. She resurrected herself by creating a fashion platform, a brand that will be made up of the curated collections by selected individuals, but not around one star designer.

Monique van Heist’s Hello Fashion is probably the most grown-up and serious attempt at attacking the fashion system in it’s heart. It will not renew every season. It will have a growing collection of items that stay in production for a long time. Also Moniques idea has grown out of dissatisfaction with the current speed of change and the creation of waste.

For Liam Maher it seems to be more accidental that he’s challenging the fashion system. Liam focuses on the well-crafted and well-made jeanswear, Denham. He just likes the idea of creating something enduring, being a craftsman that knows his craft. That of course is in sharp contrast with the throwaway fashion that most of us dress-up in.

The conclusion of the symposium was somewhat disappointing because Anne Chapelle turned out to have little faith in that we will be able to change the fashion industry or system in the near future.

I choose to believe that we can. It’s up to us, us that consume fashion, to make different choices and to stop sponsoring the irresponsible and waste-producing brands. If anything this symposium has made clear that it is possible to act differently, and we just need to stand up and start doing it.
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