Eagerly awaiting a heated discussion regarding the challenges and opportunities faced within the fashion and creative industries today. The HAUSIE team conscientiously observe the panel of international leaders of design and provocateurs.
The evening of intellectual fashion and creative thinking address a variation of questions, ranging from the concept of luxury and its evolvement, the practicality and artistic purpose of fashion from its origins of craftsmanship to the meaning of fashion today? Exploring the issues with the panel, we monitor and observe their responses.
The “Objects of Desire: Fashion, Creation, And Innovation Reconsidered” forum includes winner of the Women’s Wear Designer of the Year award at the 2013 British Fashion Awards Christopher Kane, CEO of Intelligence Squared Group Yana Peel, Managing Director of IDEO Asia Pacific and World Economic Forum speaker Richard Kelly, Elaine Ng Yan Ling the dubbed “Techno Fairy” and Bloomberg anchor Angie Lau to moderate.
The definition of “luxury” at times can be divisive and traditionally associated with an experience enjoyed by a specific group people. With bold connotations of privilege, exclusivity and the notion of unattainability, we explore the personal ideology of luxe with the panel. As an increasing number of modern brands continue to overuse this term, in particularly with regards to brand positioning the definition is becoming looser with time. Emphasising, there is significant time restrictions and a constant hard work ethic required within the fashion industry. Visionary multi-media artist Elaine Ng Yan Ling confirms her definition of luxury is having the time to construct and work towards her creations at her own pace. Proving even the Worlds top designers need time to generate creativity and inspiration, Scottish designer Christopher Kane stated;
“It’s hard to be creative every single day. Sometimes you just want to watch TV.”
Over the past decade, sustainability and ethical conduct have become increasingly important within the fashion industry (Emberley 1998; Moisander and Personen 2002). Companies have noted that although affordable and trend-sensitive fashion may be highly profitable, it does raise ethical issues (Aspers and Skov 2006). The average consumer is now educated and strives to purchase increasingly organic, unique goods constructed in an ethical manner. With this evolvement, the ideology of embracing craftsmanship and authenticity is becoming more popular than ever.
The panel confirms more brands particularly within the luxury industry are headed in this direction. As organisations are embedded in society, and reflect the values they offer, this leads to profound issues. The difficulty is to see how all the suppliers of the individual components can be ethically secured and accounted for, together with the labour used to manufacture the garment, its transport from factory to retail outlet, and ultimately the garment’s aftercare and disposal. (Beard (2008: 448) Mihm 2010; Partridge 2011). Elaine Ng Yan Ling clarifies this sustainability does work better within the luxury industry due to affordability. With reference to her weaving work in China, she states issues such as area remoteness, training, language barriers and production times make it extremely difficult for fast fashion brands to honour these methods.
The logic of purpose versus profit was queried, exploring how design is created to conscientiously fit the hearts and minds consumers. Yana Peel reflects on her mothers Russian heritage during the communist rule. Emphasising the importance of style, her mother would often purchase a pair of jeans in the wrong size if it was the only available pair, and in a brash attempt to fasten them she would resort to squeezing them on in the bath. The strong connection linking the designers with their cultural heritage conveys the purpose of design being to evoke consumer happiness. Elaine Ng Yan Lings adoration of Chinese craft and artisan fused with her drive to provide true authenticity with one of a kind handmade items makes her purpose unique. Whereas British designer Christopher Kane, strongly believes in making his brand accessible to as many consumers as possible. By expanding into different product areas and collaborating with make-up brands such as NARS, Kane offers his collective pieces as a quality investment across the board. The exclusivity and craftsmanship of his productions fit the hearts and minds consumers. Working towards producing the best collections possible, and continuing to generate consumer breeding curiosity is his purpose ;
“It can become a bit like a prison sentence but I quite like that.” Christopher Kane
Annamma Joy, John F. Sherry, Jr, Alladi Venkatesh, Jeff Wang and Ricky Chan (2012) Fast Fashion, Sustainability, and the Ethical Appeal of Luxury Brands [Online] Available at http://Https://www3.nd.edu/~jsherry/pdf/2012/FastFashionSustainability.pdf [Accessed 1/11/15]
Beard, N. 2008. “The Branding of Ethical Fashion and the Consumer: A Luxury Niche or a Mass Market Reality?” Fashion Theory 12(4):
Emberley, V. 1998. “Venus and Furs: The Cultural Politics of Fur.” Lon- don: I. B. Tauris & Co.
Moisander, Johanna and S. Personen. 2002. “Narratives of Sustainable Ways of Living: Constructing the Self and Others as a Green Con- sumer.” Management Decision 40(4): 329–42.
Mihm, Barbara: 2010. “Fast Fashion in a Flat World: Global Sourcing Strategies.” International Business and Economics Research Journal June 9(6): 55–63.
Partridge, D. J. 2011. “Activist Capitalism and Supply Chain Citizenship: Producing Ethical Regimes and Ready-to-Wear Clothes.” Current Anthropology 52(S3): S97–S111.