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In 2020 and 2021, State of Fashion reflected on the current state of fashion but also on our own message and position with the online programme This is an Intervention. During the programme, we remained silent to listen and observe. An exceptional and diverse group of thinkers and creators, from around the world, took over our platform in 8 months and introduced us to unheard voices.
How can we recover from the addiction to a system we are all part of? State of Fashion has addressed this battle of the mind and felt a strong responsibility for opening up to new perspectives that have been overlooked, ignored, and denied. Therefore, as a reflection on ‘Searching for the New Luxury’ in 2018, and leading up to the State of Fashion Biennale in 2022, we paused to look and to listen.
Dive into the longreads, check out the online Whatabouteries, read about all the participants, discover the results of the interactive workshop and so much more!
View the full online exhibition of “This is an Intervention” via the button below.
2020 has been a game-changing year, also for the fashion industry. First, Covid-19 once and for all exposed the vulnerabilities of the existing system of fashion. As a consequence of fallen consumer demand and clothing trade due to stringent lockdown measures, fashion companies canceled their orders or readjusted their payment and delivery procedures. As a result, millions of local garment workers across the world returned to their hometowns, towards an uncertain future.
Then, the murder of George Floyd in the US sparked a worldwide conversation about how our societies are still imbued with racism on many levels. In fashion, it revealed that ensuring diversity, equity and inclusivity takes more than just a stronger representation of Black, Indigenous, People of Colour (BIPOC) on runways and in boardrooms. It also requires a critical and rigorous view on how the fashion system is organized as a whole; it takes a radical approach that challenges the industry at its roots.
This year’s events also made State of Fashion – a platform created to reflect critically on the fashion system – rethink our message. Since its conception, State of Fashion has robustly addressed the environmental as well as the social footprint of the fashion industry, while uncovering new materials and production techniques. This framework was also the focus of the successful 2018 ‘ Searching for the New Luxury’ biennale, curated by José Teunissen, Professor of Fashion Theory and Dean of the School of Design and Technology at the London College of Fashion (UAL). The events described above, in addition to an exacerbated climate crisis with severe consequences for humanity, have led State of Fashion to a broader focus.
Unfortunately, it seems that it will take an environmental or natural disaster to stop the greed-driven modus operandi of the fashion industry.Vin of VIN + OMI, tijdens Whataboutery #1: Masters of Change. June 2018, Arnhem
Our world has a variety of fashion systems. For decades, the dominant fashion system has been the one shaped by those located in privileged parts of the world. This system, driven by a business model encouraging constant and exponential economic growth, fails to take into account what it is slowly erasing as a result in its sacrifice zones: fertile land, clean water and local cultures. Sustainable fashion is also broadly defined by this system. This has resulted in problematic and often-clashing beliefs of how one could contribute to the sustainable fashion movement and, more importantly, of who could contribute to it: those who can afford it. Although conscious consumerism is pivotal, this singular understanding of sustainable fashion has a dramatic flaw: it does not consider or guarantee diversity, equality and inclusivity. As long as this doesn’t change, it seems impossible to create change that has a significant positive impact on all of us.
So what is the next step? How can we recover from the addiction to a system we are all part of? State of Fashion has addressed this battle of the mind and felt a strong responsibility for opening up to new perspectives that have been overlooked, ignored, and denied. Therefore, as a reflection on’ Searching for the New Luxury’ in 2018, and leading up to the State of Fashion Biennale in 2022, we pause to look and to listen. In recent months, we organized four interventions, for which we invited thinkers and makers from around the world to take over our program. With provocative readings, online conversations, interactive workshops, and inspiring visuals, they reflected on fashion, its flaws and its future, from a variety of angles. First, we took a critical look at the dominant fashion system and our role in it during an intervention dubbed Introspection. In November, we traced the roots of this system and highlighted hitherto underexposed fashions, in an intervention themed Origins. In the new year, we sought for ways to rebuild fashion in a third intervention themed Transition. Finally, in parallel with the announcement of a new curator team for State of Fashion 2022, we looked for ways forward, in the intervention themed Release.
It starts with really listening to what the world is asking of our species right now. Every designer has a talent – this is the time to dedicate our talent to what we can do to improve the world for everyone.Helen Storey in response to State of Fashion’s 2018 manifesto Searching for the New Luxury. June 2018, Arnhem. June 2018, Arnhem
Today we discussed that change takes time. When you ask questions, things gain momentum.11.11/ Eleven Eleven, during Whataboutery #1: Masters of Change. June 2018, Arnhem. June 2018, Arnhem