Everything and everybody, and everything in between, Europe

The School of Fashion & Textiles has been on the road in the Northern hemisphere these last few months and here are some recent (and not so recent) very exciting happenings, from conferences in Sweden, to the design communities of Berlin.

Everything and Everybody as Material: Beyond Fashion Design Methods, Borås, Sweden. June 7-9, 2017.

In June, the conference ‘Everything and Everybody as Material’, co-organised between RMIT and University of Borås at The Swedish School of Textiles, drew researchers, practitioners and educators from around the world to the small Swedish town and textile manufacturing precinct of Borås.

The conference took an experimental approach that aimed to rethink traditional category boundaries in fashion, asking the question: ‘what are the materials used in fashion design and what is their potential?’

Rethinking the traditional conference format, the program comprised diverse and unconventional approaches to practice. Fashion research took place between artefacts and performances. Ricarda Bigolin (co-organiser of the conference) and Nella Themelios presented D&K’s collection ‘All or Nothing’ as a collection presentation, performed by a model throughout the day. Sean Ryan presented his paper ‘Dress Material’, and PhD candidates Sonya Kraan and Matthew Linde presented elements of their projects,

The experimental and speculative nature of the program prioritised new creative and performative approaches, in order to open up the possibilities of fashion practice and its discourse.

Further information about the conference and those involved can be found at the website: everythingeverybodyasmaterial.com.


London Graduate Fashion Week, June 4 – 7, 2017, held at London’s Truman Brewery

Meanwhile, in London, Graduate Fashion Week kicked off providing a global platform for students and graduates with twenty-two catwalk shows, exhibitions as well as prestigious awards that showcased work from over forty universities.

Representing the School, Bachelor of Fashion (Design)(Honours) graduate Emily Cameron showcased her graphic designs on the runway. Cameron’s collection, titled ‘Everything in Between’, was inspired by Japanese artist Takashi Murakami’s ‘Superflat’ art movement, exploring the relationship between two and three dimensional surfaces to create a sculptural and graphic aesthetic. Emily was also interested in the artist’s style of enterprise, she explained: “I’m really interested in how he ‘flattens’ the boundaries between art and commerce, as well as art and fashion.”

Being able to show an RMIT collection in events such as LGFW provides critical exposure to and international fashion community, which has launched the careers of some major names in fashion, including Christopher Bailey, Stella McCartney, Giles Deacon, Matthew Williamson and Julien Macdonald.

View the video here:

 

Fashion Global Experience Study Tour to London and Berlin: 10 -23 January 2017

Student reflections by Julia English, Bachelor of Fashion (design) (honours)

Fashion and textiles students are well aware of the perception that Australia is figuratively as well as literally a season behind Europe, but arriving in London and Berlin we realised that despite the physical distance, Melbourne was really only a hop and a step away from these future-facing cities.

The Fashion Global Experience Study Tour was focused on forecasting, encompassing trend tracking with a particular emphasis on the social, political and cultural climates that shape trends. Days were filled with excursions, self-directed adventures and urban expeditions we began to see both cities through a new lens, one which allowed us to draw together references to the past, walk through culture-fuelled neighbourhoods and see the fashion innovators of the future. These were some of the highlights.

Forecasting Lesson with freelance trend writer Jo McGinn

Situated amongst Brick Lane’s graffiti-filled streets, local coffee in hand, we settled inside to hear what trend forecaster Jo McGinn had to share. We listened closely while she told us that “three’s a trend”, and to “look at visual merchandising” as a way to gain an insight to shifting retail trends. Yet it was when she called up a few of our number to dissect what we were wearing that really stuck with us. She saw the influence of the Victorian era in a layered black ensemble with mid-calf length skirt and brogue shoes, and the softened androgyny of oversized beige puffer jackets with dusty blue jean and converse shoes.

Victoria & Albert Museum

In order to contextualise the present, you need to understand the past, and a key aspect of this was visiting London’s V&A Museum. The tour focused on fashion and textiles, in particular the Arts & Crafts movement. In understanding the ethos driving these ideas we were able to draw parallels with the present.

‘Edited’ Forecasting Agency

Another highlight of the trip was visiting Edited, a London forecasting agency that works with data analysis. Edited’s education liaison Fran Sheldon explained how to use the software to assess trends and we all pulled out our laptops to give it a go.

Premium Trade Show

During our first day in Berlin we ventured to the Premium, Seek and Bright trade shows. Wandering the exhibition’s vast halls displaying the industry’s predictions for the coming season, we identified trends amongst the displays, evidence to support the development of our own trend forecasts.

Bikini Berlin

The artistic hub Bikini Berlin – described as ‘the world’s first concept shopping mall’ – provided insight into how Berlin’s innovative culture has truly shaped its fashion scene. Many stores were unique world-wide for their approach, for example Adidas had opened a trial custom knitting store where consumers can interactively design their prints and have the jumper finished in four hours. We listened to store owner Sevil Uguz explain how being in Berlin had shaped LNFA (Live Networking for Fashion and Art), a store stocking emerging local and international designers. She spoke about how the rawness of the interior was carefully curated to align with people’s ideas of an almost dirty, grungy Berlin, despite the fact that Berlin itself was becoming so gentrified that it was driving out the creative industries.

The success of this trip was not in the trade events, nor the local insight, nor the forecasting itself, though these were all excellent – it was how it highlighted the immersive nature of fashion. Fashion is more than garments; it is about our physical and emotional response to the world around us. To understand where fashion is going, you need to meet the people and experience the world that is taking us there.