Shifting ideas of time and place in fashion
Palomo-Lovinski, Noël; Faerm, Steven
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This paper examines how shifting contemporary conceptions of time and place affect the current practices of the fashion industry. The Internet as a reporting tool, coupled with remarkably accelerated production cycles, has rendered fashion both contemporaneous yet timeless, thus making the traditional system of trends or selling cycles superfluous. As fashion companies expand within a global market, clothing has become both seasonless and placeless, as locality is overwhelmed by mass fashion. Demands prompted by these new conceptions of time and place are placing unprecedented responsibilities on designers who must increasingly develop excessive quantities of product suited to multiple climates and target highly differentiated aesthetic preferences and localized communities. Beyond the homogeneity of mass global fashion, the Internet has also helped to define communities beyond environmental proximity, thus rendering place as more of a concept then a literal idea. The fashion industry and academia must adapt to new best practices since the present system of doing business is counterproductive to establishing a viable and sustainable future. These changing perceptions of temporality and regional relationships create new opportunities for industry and education. How can designers create clothing that successfully addresses both localized and specialized demographics and succeeds in the increasingly timeless and placeless market? How will the designer's role evolve as a result of this expanding market? There are a few examples, both professional and theoretical, within the present fashion industry that can serve as burgeoning models for this new concept of practice. Educators and researchers such as Becky Earley, Holly McQuillan, Timo Rissanen, and Kate Fletcher have suggested a variety of “designer-as-maker” pathways in theoretical practice that seek to create tangible results. Design practitioners such as Natalie Chanin and Azzedine Alia have created business models that subvert the traditional industry systems. Additionally, small-batch manufacturing, made possible through technology such as 3D printing, digital textile printing, and knitting machines, suggests that fashion need not be confined to one place and limited by predetermined concepts of time. Seen through the framework of social geography and social theory perspectives, this paper examines the possible implications of time and place on design and future industry practices. These concepts will be examined through a two-pronged approach by considering both advocacy within the fashion industry, and how to best educate students so they may employ these best practices as future design leaders. This paper seeks to add to the conversation of professional practitioners with insights to navigate the evolving industry with alternative design and business structures. The paper also aims to provide design educators with an increased facility and awareness into future industry practices so they may successfully evolve their programmes and curricula.