Where to next [fashion, Part four]

Following on from the previous three posts on the subject, here are some thoughts on the future of fashion, or fashion for the 21st Century.  Closed loop or sustainable materials, and ethical sourcing and manufacturing has to be at the core of future fashion, but what about design?

The food and wine movement, where local boutique growers and artisan makers are taking over from mass grown, factory processed product of often unidentifiable origin, is a starting point.

Future fashion will shift from centralised influence at Paris, Milan, London and New York, to regional fashion.  Designers will draw on local influences including art to make clothing relevant to the people.  Artists and others from non traditional design backgrounds will assist.

Trend forecasters will cease to be influential in the colours and fabrics used, as fabrics are sourced locally (from used or recycled and up-cycled fabrics or locally grown yarns).  Colours will be influenced by local artists, architecture, the environment and weather.

Silhouettes will be open ended.  One of the most important shifts in fashion (from Westwood and the Japanese designers) is the freestyle approach to silhouettes that makes any shape possible.  I think the future of fashion will be undefined silhouettes to match non-gender specific clothing.

Fashion will be driven by the individual, who mixes items from a range of sources, and the part of the body that is revealed or concealed will depend on the wearer, not the designer.  Clothing will continue to be layered according to individual preferences.

With spaces and opportunities for displaying clothing becoming more affordable, local designers will have more of a voice.  In the past when a shop, advertising and exposure was financially out of reach, social media, markets, collectives, and pop up spaces encouraged by local government, enable designers to bring their work to their target market.

Collectives and group run spaces allow interaction between different disciplines, encouraging new conversations in design.  Lines between art, craft and design will become blurred, with artistic merit driven by the culture of the community.

Expensive, full scale parades and centralised fashion weeks will lose momentum as buyers are replaced with patrons following their favourite  designers.  The slow, local, artisan and organic movement in food will apply to fashion, with smaller boutique production and fresh ideas drawing on a strong underlying aesthetic.

I think this movement of fashion to a more creative, locally influenced space both physically and artistically, will benefit the makers and the wearers.  People will learn the true value of clothing, and appreciate what they are wearing, so clothing becomes less disposable and allows more personal expression.  The ability to swap, trade or sell items that are used will lose any stigma of second hand, and become valued for their integrity rather than newness.

This will be part of a strong reaction in the 21st Century against large corporate control over what we read, see, eat and wear.

Some places to visit in Adelaide to show this philosophy, with designer clothing a minor presence so far (come on designers!):

Stirling Market

Plant 4 – Third Street Bowden

Gilles Street Market

Bowerbird Design Market

T’Arts Collective

Bamfurlong Fine Crafts

JamFactory Craft and Design

Format

Swop

India Flint

Another important early innovator in the contemporary movement of sustainable and ethical fashion is India Flint.

India is an Adelaide artist, living on a property in the Adelaide hills.  While a friend and I were sharing a studio at the JamFactory in the mid 2000’s, India held an exhibition in the main gallery space.  The fragrance of her scattered lemon-scented gum leaves greeted us each day as we entered the building.

Songs from the Wastelands, an installation from Earth Matters http://www.indiaflint.com/page30.htm

Although dyeing with eucalyptus leaves had been done before, India discovered and innovated a technique to transfer the dye and shape of leaves onto silk and wool fabric.  Her experimentation with every type of eucalypt available during her Masters Degree at the University of South Australia, expanded to include wild flowers and found objects such as rusty nails for mark making.

India is respectful of hand made techniques such as hand stitching with the thread in a colour and thickness of yarn that contrasted with the finished fabric.  She used up-cycled clothing and fabrics as a base to decorate and make new clothing.  She ignored minimalist approaches to fashion popular at the time, instead embracing layering and allowing the fabric to dictate the silhouettes.

Jo Roads, Deon Hastie Petroglyphs http://www.lwd.com.au, clothing by India Flint

Her unorthodox approach to the fabric itself, allowing the material to keep the wrinkles and creases from the dye process, created a three dimensional effect.  This added extra texture to the fabric, which was already  uneven in colour and pattern due to the natural dye process.

India has spent subsequent years to date touring the world teaching workshops and showing her beautiful work in galleries.  Many textile artists and designers have been influenced by her work, including myself, and I don’t think it’s possible to overestimate her influence on the future of fashion and textiles.

India Flint website, including images, workshops, exhibitions, books and contact details.

The Relevance of Art

With the growing popularity of Street Art, I was interested to see at Wonderwalls in Port Adelaide this year, a group of writers working on a wall next to a Street Artist*.  The Street Artist listed her own name on the official program, and the others worked under a crew name, for obvious reasons, to stay incognito.

This defining difference between the establishment and the newcomer, made me reflect on art in general, and the opening up of avenues for displaying and expressing art.

Our Art Gallery of South Australia is under the direction of Nick Mitzevich, who is happy to show colonial art next to Aboriginal/First Nations cultural objects.  He follows that theme around the gallery, mixing together works that would usually be seen as opposing, as having something significant in common.  As we don’t have a formal contemporary art building (yet), Mitzevich treats our gallery as contemporary art meets the art history of the world, including representation from our Asian neighbours.

This is a challenging and exciting way of displaying art, and keeps the gallery relevant culturally and geographically.  It also makes the gallery an inspiring place to visit, as we see the old collection in a new way and the new work in the context of the old.

After spending some years now admiring and participating in street art, I feel the pristine white walls of a gallery space that shut out history, noise, and windows to the outside world, are both restricting and old in the limited atmosphere and lack of authenticity in the space.  The artist is responsible for creating these things, which can come across as contrived and like a static museum display.

When operating exclusively in a gallery setting, an artist can begin to take this for granted, and I think that impacts on the relevance of art in the real world.  Artist Alfredo Jaar says to imagine the world we want to live in, meaning to use art to push us towards that world.  The beauty of street art is that it goes to the people, the people don’t have to seek it out.  Street art also reflects the integrity of the existing surrounding, and so becomes a part of it.

I’ve said previously, I embrace all street art, including tags and sgraffiti, as relevant to the contemporary and historical art scene.  Widening our definition of art as existing in the everyday, allows us to think outside the gallery space and work alongside others who have different perspectives, and so makes what we do relevant.

As a footnote:  The Art Gallery of South Australia could be inclusive and embrace street art by opening the outside side wall(s) as free walls for any artists to participate.  Then we would have a world leading rather than a world class art gallery.

*Street Art as the new wave of painters who only work by permission to paint a wall, street art includes any form in general.