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|
Want to get involved?
- Great! Visit the Join In page to find out how.
- If you’d like to adapt the Fashion Fictions materials to support participatory speculation activities in spheres other than fashion, please visit the Adapting Fashion Fictions page.
Want to find out more?
- Read ‘Fashion Fictions: unmaking the mainstream fashion system‘, a paper presented at Global Fashion Conference, Akademie Mode & Design, 17-18 November 2022
- Watch ‘Fashion Fictions: Living Together in Imagined Worlds‘, a 90-minute online event (part of a Nottingham Trent University virtual conference on on 23 November 2022) which introduces the project and the Organisers Network, with three international guests
- Watch ‘Fashion Fictions: learning to challenge the status quo‘, a presentation at The Future of International Fashion Design Education, Istituto Marangoni London, 29 September 2022 (starts around 1 hour in)
- Watch Amy’s inaugural lecture, Knit, Reknit and Reimagine, 27 January 2021, which discusses Fashion Fictions from 24:47 onwards
- Watch a panel discussion involving Amy and three Fashion Fictions participants at Ruth Singer’s Making Meaning Live event (free; click ‘buy now’ to access; see Fashion Fictions in the Day 2 list)
- Read a Twitter thread which traces one fiction (World 91) all the way from Stage 1 to Stage 3
- Read ‘Writing alternative fashion worlds: frustrations, fictions and imaginaries‘, a paper presented at Responsible Fashion Series, University of Antwerp, 14-22 October 2021
- Watch ‘Fashion fictions: what do we wish for?, an invited presentation at Garment Stories and Sustainability: Past, Present and Future, University of York Annual Fashion Symposium, 4 June 2021 (1:33:00 onwards)
- Read ‘Calling for a plurality of perspectives on design futuring: an un-manifesto’, a paper coauthored with Noura Howell, Britta F. Schulte, Rocío Fatás Arana, Sumita Sharma and Grace Eden given at the CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, 8-13 May 2021
- Read ‘Designing fashion fictions: speculative scenarios for sustainable fashion worlds’, a paper given at The Design After, Cumulus Conference, Bogota, 30 October-1 November 2019
- For a full list of publications please visit amytwiggerholroyd.com