Neither superficial nor insignificant

A major influence on my work with my MA project is the work of Mathilda Tham, and especially her PhD research “The Lucky People Forecast” (Tham, 2008) that explores the potential of trend-forecasting not only to “predict” the fashion future, but also shape it. The forecasts are in many ways self-fulfilling prophecies so the potential for them to put something positive out there is great. Furthermore, design is inherently about futuring, you design for improvement or change from what currently exists. And so is fashion design, anticipating future trends, always creating for the next season. What if this ability was used more long term, and even more, to create positive visions of the future?

But fashion design lacks the theoretical framework to be taken seriously the way it should, as it seen as superficial, creating aesthetic, ephemeral experiences, drawing on creative genius, sitting uncomfortably between fine arts and design, basing decisions more on zeitgeist than reflection.

And why should it be taken more seriously? Is it not omnipresent, whether we pay attention to it or are imposed it as a mere consequence of society?

“In the fashion moment an individual – through her clothing – finds herself in perfect synchronicity with time, space and other individuals. The fashion moment occurs through the glorious spectacle that is the fashion show, when in fourteen minutes a series of propositions are brought before our eyes, with music stressing their future socio-cultural relevance and adding to the suggestive atmosphere. Back-stage, yet another fashion moment takes place as six months of hard work reaches a crescendo. It is a moment of almost super real clarity and focus, yet frantic energy, when a nervous designer, alternating between hope and dread, watches blossom cheeked assistants run around, and finally giggly young men and women become larger than themselves just as they enter the catwalk and are met by a cascade of flashes. The fashion moment occurs when a fashion student suddenly finds expression where there were previously mere scraps of paper and a rugged mannequin. It happens when a designer and a pattern-cutter, tired after a long session, in a moment of collective ingenuity synergise their respective skills into a solution. The fashion moment takes place when a teenager carefully reflects and constructs and reconstructs her identity through clothing and suddenly sees herself in the mirror. The fashion moment is there when a researcher in a seemingly magical instant can connect her formative experiences with clothing to a new understanding of the world. The fashion moment elevates us from everyday routines. It provides work for a huge and global community and a way of making a living for small designers, and profits for big brands. The fashion moment offers a promise of the future; in its tantalising hints that change is underway, it can broaden our joy in being, stretch us beyond ourselves in time and space and give us glimpses of alternative futures.” (Tham, 2008, p. 197).



Tham, M. (2008) Lucky people forecast – a systemic futures perspective on fashion and sustainability. PhD Thesis. Design Department, Goldsmiths, University of London.



— Post imported from the SLOWMATERIALISM research blog. —

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *