Thoughts on an anti-fashion manifesto

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A 10-point manifesto published by Trend Union clearly states that the fashion industry is going to implode.  Li Edelkoort‘s Anti_Fashion Manifesto, which was first presented at Design Indaba in Cape Town February 28, 2015, makes this bold statement (You can read the entire dezeen article here.)

Since 2015, Edlekoort has been speaking about how the fashion industry is now lagging as an indication of trend.  This is a new phenomenon.  Fashion has always been a leading indicator of trends.  Now, with the disruption of the internet, and the way our consumer culture has shifted, fashion is a lagger, not a leader.

There is no denying the disposable nature of our clothing. The very cloth that makes our garments is quickly manufactured and replaced with the next season’s patterns & styles. The market is flooded with cheap apparel products. As quickly as the shelves are filled, they are being moved, discounted, and removed to make way for the next season’s trends. Lots of the fabric & apparel is cheap in construction – only designed for one season of wear — and is put on display in warehouse-like stores in strip malls across the nation.

Under Manufacturing, Edelkoort writes that the drive for ever-leaner supply chains has led to a “rapid and sordid restructuring process, which has seen production leave the western world to profit from and exploit low-wage countries.”

Here’s the main point that resonated with me:  cost-cutting in education and fashion houses threatens the textile industry. Students are no longer learning about textile creation and basic fabric constructions of spinning, weaving, printing, & finishing.

No longer learning basic fabric constructions? How can this be? This is the basis of a strong textile education, and it is being lost. Many educated by textile institutions in the 1990’s are unemployed or underemployed by the textile industry.  Spinning, weaving, printing, and finishing have been undervalued for decades in the United States.  But these ideas and knowledge are essential products of any civilized society.

On-demand production is a more sustainable method of manufacturing, if done wisely.  But now anyone – and everyone – is a designer.  We are a product of the DIY revolution.

The fashion industry is challenged like no other time in history.

What is truly necessary to be produced?

How will the continued shift in retail commerce change how and where our clothes are made?

How will fashion and textile education evolve as a result of our present day circumstances?  How will online learning shape the content of information that is preserved about textile traditions?

As an artist and educator, I write with the intention to influence the way textiles are made, appreciated, and preserved as the cultural method of art making.

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