State of Fashion Whataboutery Series, “This is an Intervention”

RCDF is presenting a series of blogs on the 2020-2021 activities of State of Fashion because RCDF has played a role in shaping the theme of the series. There are 4 events (Whatabouteries) in the series entitled ‘This is an Intervention’.

“State of Fashion is an international fashion platform that connects pioneers in fashion design, research and business, and shares their ideas and innovations with the world. Their biennial event brings together visionary ideas from the Netherlands and abroad. State of Fashion explicitly connects fashion to social issues and challenges of our time.

Our world has a variety of fashion systems. For decades, the dominant fashion system has been shaped by those located in privileged parts of the world. This system, driven by a business model encouraging constant and exponential economic growth, fails to take into account what it is slowly erasing as a result in its sacrifice zones: fertile land, clean water and local cultures. Sustainable fashion is also broadly defined by this system. This has resulted in problematic and often-clashing beliefs of how one could contribute to the sustainable fashion movement and, more importantly, of who could contribute to it: those who can afford it. Although conscious consumerism is pivotal, this singular understanding of sustainable fashion has a dramatic flaw: it does not consider or guarantee diversity, equality and inclusivity. As long as this doesn’t change, it seems impossible to create change that has a significant positive impact on all of us. 

So what is the next step? How can we recover from the addiction to a system we are all part of? State of Fashion wants to address this battle of the mind and feels a strong responsibility for opening up to new perspectives that have been overlooked, ignored, and denied.”

Sandra Niessen is a cultural anthropologist and one of the founding members of RCDF. Her primary research focus has been the weaving arts of the Batak people of North Sumatra. She is freelance and lives in The Netherlands. 

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