Fashion Fictions brings people together to generate, experience and reflect on engaging fictional visions of alternative fashion cultures and systems.
Through these activities, we gain new perspectives on challenges, possibilities and pathways for change in the real world.
Fashion Fictions is led by Dr Amy Twigger Holroyd, Associate Professor of Fashion and Sustainability at Nottingham School of Art & Design, funded by a Research, Development and Engagement Fellowship from the Arts & Humanities Research Council.
The project, which was founded in 2020, has an open ethos: it has already involved hundreds of participants, all over the world, and all are welcome to join in. While some participants bring specialist expertise in fashion and textile practice, theory and history, everyone taking part brings expertise which is just as valuable: that gained from the wearing of clothes, day in and day out.
There are many problems associated with the way that we commonly use clothes today, particularly in the global North. Negative environmental and social impacts are generated from production through to use and disposal. These problems are made worse by the ever-increasing volumes of garments being produced by an industry driven by economic growth.
The project aims to support transitions towards sustainable, post-growth fashion systems by reshaping academic, professional and public understandings of the possibilities for sustainable fashion.
It acknowledges the huge reduction in resource use that will be needed if we are to develop fashion systems that work within ecological limits. Such systems will involve different social and cultural norms, different economies, different ways of living with our clothes. We need to move from incremental changes to the design and manufacture of clothes to radically different ways of fashioning our identities.
Fashion Fictions is aligned with and takes inspiration from the Earth Logic Fashion Action Research Plan by Kate Fletcher and Mathilda Tham. Atlas of the Future describes Earth Logic as ‘a simple yet transformative call to the fashion sector: to put earth first, pledging loyalty to the planet before industry, business and economic growth.’
It can sometimes be hard to imagine alternatives that are radically different because the status quo feels so entrenched. Furthermore, we lack compelling visions of how our fashion systems might be transformed.
The project creates a safe space to explore what alternative fashion systems might look like, to think things through critically and creatively, and to generate an expanded sense of possibility. It allows us to pause and ask ourselves: what do we wish for?
To do this, we ask ‘what if’ questions to imagine contemporary realities in parallel worlds: worlds that have split off from our own at some point in history, and taken a different path. We imagine positive and enticing worlds, in terms of individual satisfaction, social justice and sustainability. We imagine worlds that are physically possible, but push beyond what feels plausible to us today.
Fashion Fictions has a three-stage structure for speculation:
creating brief written outlines of fictional fashion cultures and systems
building on the outlines, generating visual and material prototypes
enacting and experiencing the prototyped Worlds
Participation in the speculative activities often generates a sense of wonder: a fresh perspective on our real-world experiences of fashion.
This wonder can prompt people to ask searching questions about the status quo; to identify precedents, whether historical or contemporary, that can inspire different ways of living with our clothes; and to come up with ideas for action, whether personal or collective, to drive change in the real world.
seeding ideas for action
Many of these precedents, questions and ideas for action come directly from the fictions, while others emerge through the process of speculation.
Various aspects of the shift from speculation to wonder are represented below:
|Worlds, Explorations, Enactments||questions, precedents, ideas for action|
|implausible||implausible / plausible|
|creator / fictional citizen||citizen / policymaker|
|it is happening||it could happen|
|humorous, playful||earnest, brave|