Fashion Fictions brings people together to generate, experience and reflect on engaging fictional visions of alternative fashion cultures and systems.

Run by Dr Amy Twigger Holroyd, Associate Professor of Fashion and Sustainability in the School of Art & Design at Nottingham Trent University, the initiative takes fashion design from its usual commercial context to instead explore speculative scenarios with diverse groups of participants through written outlines, visual and material prototypes and ‘everyday dress’ projects.

The fictions, or Worlds, are framed as parallel presents, rather than speculative futures, and are guided by some loose parameters. These parameters specify that the fictions should describe sustainable and satisfying cultures and systems; explore social and cultural factors, rather than technological change; and focus attention on use and associated practices such as loaning and sharing, rather than production and conventional consumption.

In research terms, the aim is to understand how alternative fashion cultures and systems might be imagined and experienced, and discover which historical or contemporary real-world examples we can draw on in the process of exploring them. As a form of activism, the initiative aims to contribute to the emergent post-growth fashion movement – which seeks a fashion system that fully acknowledges the Earth’s capacity to support life – by supporting people to imagine alternative ways of living with clothes and take action to bring them to reality.

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.’

Participants in Fashion Fictions include people with experience of fashion cultures gained through wearing and enjoying clothes (yes, that could mean you), along with those with specialist expertise in fashion theory and history and in speculative design and fashion/textile practice. 

The project is funded from September 2021 to May 2023 by a Research, Development and Engagement Fellowship from the Arts & Humanities Research Council. From September 2021 to September 2022 Dr Matilda Aspinall is working with Amy as a Research Fellow on Fashion Fictions.

Fashion Fictions has a three-stage structure:

Stage 1

Imagining fictional fashion cultures and systems, presented via 100-word written sketches describing each World.

Stage 2

Fleshing out the Stage 1 Worlds, often working collaboratively to create visual and material prototypes.

Stage 3

Enacting and experiencing the prototyped Worlds via intensive and extended ‘everyday dress’ projects.

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