Veteran fashion forecaster Lidewij Edelkoort has penned an op-ed for the Business of Fashion, questioning the industry’s business stimulus model of over-production, over-consumption and mediocre product.
Citing a necessary re-set of how the industry does business, real change needs to happen at the educational level, where the next generation of students are taught the value of fibres over marketing, about textiles and natural processes over 3-D rendering, of creating at the purest level with qualitative intent.
“We believe that in order to understand fashion design we need to teach the origin of clothes, which can be found at the farm and in the forest. We know that regenerative farming and foresting are in the cards of a future where brands will be involved from the very start of the creation of their goods, responsible for alternative crops, humane animal treatment and measured cellulose and algae production. Some houses are already embracing this responsibility.”
Edelkoort, who this fall will launch a new educational master programme at Polimoda embracing From Farm to Fabric to Fashion, says an awareness of life is essential, “giving rights to materials, as much as to animals, plants and humans.”
In Edelkoort’s essay A Declaration of Change: Radical Metamorphosis, the Dutch forecaster believes young people must lead the change, starting with their own education, to shape a new way of thinking about - and designing - fashion.
“Education has largely participated in the demise of fashion by closing textile design departments, neglecting fabric knowledge and promoting virtual sketching over draping and pattern making. This is why we need to reconstruct the system and introduce a radical new educational model. Based on the ancestry of textiles and its affinity with fashion,” explains Edelkoort in her Declaration. "We believe that in order to understand fashion design we need to teach the origin of clothes, which can be found on the farm and in the forest, even in the ocean. We know that regenerative farming and foresting are on the cards of a future where brands will be involved from the very start of the creation of their goods, responsible for alternative crops, humane animal treatment, and measured cellulose and algae production. Some houses are already embracing this responsibility.”
Fashion is a commodity
In her op-ed, Edelkoort says “fashion design has become a commodity and couldn’t care less about the fabrics used, as long as there is material volume to create monetary volume, resulting in a limited choice of denim, fleece, jersey and flannel, with the occasional flower, sequin or photo to make the same-old look new. This is why fashion design is on its way out, suffering from overproduction and under-creativity, leading to a market saturated with opportunistic drops and collaborations, camouflaging the utter lack of integrity and initiative, where the sporadic use of a jacquard becomes an overnight TikTok sensation. We have reached the point where we can no longer speak of fashion and have to address merchandise simply as clothes.”
Polimoda director Massimiliano Giornetti comments: "Training by its very nature is projected into the future. Our role is to create solid foundations to allow the whole fashion system around us to grow and develop. Together with Lidewij Edelkoort, we want to explore new paths that are both ambitious and revolutionary, combining Tuscan artisan heritage with an experimental and scientific approach. Fashion design needs to rediscover the drive towards renewal, starting from research and knowledge of techniques, materials and fabrics that inspire innovation with an anthropological and cultural approach.”