Decolonial Fashion Practice #4

By Erica de Greef

For the Conversation on Decoloniality and Fashion online session on 1st May 2021, co-convenors Angela Jansen, Shayna Goncalves and I were joined by author Walter Mignolo, Rolando Vázquez and Lesiba Mabitsela in a conversation that centred on the co-authored article ‘Decolonial AestheSis: Colonial Wounds/Deconial Healings‘ by Walter Mignolo and Rolando Vázquez. The recording of the conversation can be accessed here (Passcode: 0S9cux+e).

For this reflective post on decolonial practice we present an assemblage of overlapping intellectual explorations on paper by Shayna Goncalves, Erica de Greef, Rolando Vazquez, Walter Mignolo and Lesiba Mabitsela.  

In their collective, ongoing efforts to decolonize knowledge processes, aesthetics and subjectivities, Rolando Vazquez and fellow decolonial thinker Walter Mignolo have coordinated the Middelburg Decolonial Summer School since 2008. They have also contributed to many projects for rethinking not only forms and spaces of knowledge creation such as curricula and universities, but also in responses to (re)thinking and (re)framing museums, media platforms, art worlds and more. At the Conversations on Decoloniality and Fashion on 01 May 2021, we engaged with them in reflecting on the complex entanglements of fashion and decoloniality.

Walter Mignolo, notes from Conversations on Decoloniality and Fashion (01 May 2021)

We were also joined by Lesiba Mabitsela, a fashion creative who incorporates ideas of decolonial aesthesis and praxis into his diverse and far-reaching studio projects. Lesiba is also a co-founder of the African Fashion Research Institute, together with Erica de Greef.

Lesiba Mabitsela, notes from The Making of African Fashion Studies (20 May 2021)

Following each session, we invite a reflective response contextualising and situating (in practice) the monthly Conversation for our blog. For this reflection, we share the doodles and notes made for the session or made in the session, with the exception of Rolando Vazquez whose notes in this collage are drawn from the online Decolonial Summer School held, co-organised with the Van Abbe Museum in July 2020.

Rolando Vazquez, notes from The End of the contemporary and the Colonial Difference, 11th Decolonial Summer School (01 July 2020)

These collective notes both invite and reflect a plurality of ‘ways’ of crafting, thinking and reflecting on knowledges in the making. They demonstrate how knowledge processes are not only academic, but are also felt; they are deeply personal, truly unique and pluriversal. For author and public intellectual Achille Mbembe, “we will not open up the possibility of different aesthetics and ethics, nor will we open the door to a different politics of the future world … without different modes of counting, of seeing, of doing.”[1]

Shayna Goncalves, notes from Conversations on Decoloniality and Fashion (01 May 2021)

Grappling with legacies of coloniality and its ongoing entanglement with fashion, means that the project of decolonising fashion is necessary to work towards ways of repairing and sharing the planet and of finding new ways of fashioning that is ‘open to epistemic diversity’.[2] Following Mbembe, this means for fashion academics, creatives, journalists, curators, and even consumers, we need to embrace universal knowledges via a horizontal strategy of openness to dialogue – and listening – among different epistemic traditions that will lead to greater inclusivity and pluriversality.

Erica de Greef, notes from Conversations on Decoloniality and Fashion (01 May 2021)

This deep listening demands that we draw in diverse knowledges, both tacit and experiential, and Indigenous genealogies of knowledge (and their many languages) into our fashion discourse as other ways of knowing, speaking and listening. For an opportunity to listen to the last Conversation, the recording can be found here:  (Passcode: 0S9cux+e)

We look forward to your company again as we prepare for the next Conversations on Decoloniality and Fashion, together with Dr Toby Slade on the 5th June 2021, at 8-9:30pm GMT. To join, please send us an email.


[1] Mbembe, Achille (2020) ‘Ways of seeing: The struggle against racism in an age of techno-fascism and planetary destruction’ In Daily Maverick

[2] Ibid.


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