You are invited to create a prototype to represent a fictional fashion World.
You can use the guide individually, collaboratively or in a workshop setting. Want to use this guide for a non-fashion focus? Visit the Adapting Fashion Fictions page.
Choose a World – an outline of a positive fictional fashion culture or system – to use as a starting point.
Flesh out your understanding of your chosen World. Use the information provided in the original text but also bring in your own ideas, aiming for an engaging and positive vision that stretches the imagination in unexpected directions.
Generate ideas for an object or image that you could create to represent everyday life in the fictional world. Imagine that you have travelled to the world and brought something back, or taken a photograph, to show people what life is like there. Select the idea that communicates the distinctiveness of the fictional fashion system most effectively.
Create your prototype(s).
Write a short ‘exhibition label’ to explain your prototype(s). Remain within the fiction: write from the perspective of a traveller who has just returned from the parallel world.
Submit your prototype to the project.
Reflect on the experience of prototyping a better World.
By creating a prototype to represent a fictional fashion World, you’re contributing to Stage 2 of the Fashion Fictions project. All prototypes submitted will be added to the Explorations page.
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
As part of the project, submitted prototypes may be adapted, remixed, combined with others or otherwise altered – whether to create a new prototype or by groups building on the prototype in future.
With that in mind, all contributors are required to agree to a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International licence being applied to their submission. This will allow others to share and adapt the work in any medium and for any purpose, providing that they credit the original creators (i.e. you) and share their material using the same Creative Commons licence.
2. Choose a World
Choose a fictional fashion World to work with. You might want to browse the full repository of Worlds – or here’s a selection that you might want to consider:
If you want to create your own World, follow the Stage 1 guide.
3. Flesh out the World
Now it’s time to flesh out your chosen World.
The 100-word outline gives you a solid starting point, but you’ll need to bring in your own ideas to add detail and depth.
Here are a few things to bear in mind:
- You’re not expected to work out exactly what the author intended when they wrote the 100-word outline – you’re creating your own interpretation.
- Your interpretation of the World will probably be different to that generated by anyone else using the same starting point.
- Feel free to make changes to the World as you flesh it out: you can tweak minor details or even make major changes, according to your interests.
- If specific people or events that you aren’t familiar with are mentioned, you might want to research them – but bear in mind that some of them might be fictional!
See Tips for further guidance.
To establish an initial understanding of your World, answer these questions:
If you went to this World, what would feel the most surprising or strange?
How are clothes owned and used in this World? What is the everyday experience of fashion there?
Populate this matrix to explore what is abundant or scarce, celebrated or stigmatised in your World.
Explore these questions to consider potential problems and responses – bearing in mind that we are aiming to create enticing fashion Worlds.
Who or what (human and non-human) is disadvantaged in this World?
How can these disadvantages be overcome?
Pause and reflect
Which elements of the real-world fashion system does your interpretation of the fiction challenge, and how much?
Do you want to reshape any additional aspects of fashion, society or economy?
4. Plan the prototype
Create a visual or material prototype (or prototypes) to represent everyday life in your chosen World.
Imagine that you’ve travelled to your World and brought something back to show other people what life is like there.
Your prototype should therefore be something that belongs in the World.
Your prototype might be an object, such as a garment, toolkit or book.
It could be some printed ephemera, such as a magazine cover, receipt, newspaper or poster.
Or perhaps some digital content, such as a WhatsApp chat, order confirmation email or Instagram page.
For inspiration, take a look at these examples created by previous Fashion Fictions contributors:
Depending on your skills and available resources, you could work physically or digitally, or use a mix of the two. For example, you might create a digital image and print it out to form part of a physical artefact, or create a physical artefact and then photograph it to form part of a digital prototype.
Here are some questions to help you generate ideas:
- What fashion-related objects, media and spaces would someone living in your chosen World come into contact with?
- Which one of these everyday, even mundane, things would communicate the distinctiveness of this particular World most effectively?
When you have chosen the idea(s) that you want to work with, consider:
- How will you create your prototype?
- What materials do you need?
Aim for a positive vision
Keep in mind the ethos of Fashion Fictions: you are trying to imagine a positive and enticing fashion system, not a dystopia.
As you flesh out your World, you will have many decisions to make.
Take it in the direction that most excites you, but keep in mind the aim to construct a vision of a World that is positive in terms of individual satisfaction, social justice and sustainability.
… of a parallel world
Many speculative projects explore the future, whether five years, fifty years or a thousand years away.
Fashion Fictions is different: we try to imagine a contemporary (present-day) reality in a parallel world.
Imagine that this world split off from our own at some point in the past, and developed in a different way.
… that stretches the imagination
In Fashion Fictions, we aim to explore fashion systems that are physically possible but think beyond what feels plausible today.
Therefore, when thinking about the cultures and practices in your World, try to stretch the imagination in unexpected directions.
If in doubt, keep it weird!
How much is different?
As you flesh out your World, every aspect of society is ‘up for grabs’. The system you imagine could be near or far to the real world, as you experience it.
You might decide to imagine an alternative economic system, map out totally unconventional cultural norms, or rewrite history. You are the author: it’s up to you.
Fashion Fictions is a playful project, using creativity and humour to explore topics that often feel fixed and ‘heavy’.
So, try to have fun as you develop your World – it’s fine to be a bit silly!
Remix or ‘hack’
A productive method for creating a prototype is to remix or ‘hack’ something that already exists in the real world (whether physical or digital), rather than creating something from scratch.
When you’ve planned out your prototype, it’s time to get making!
Although we’ve described the process in linear steps here, in reality it’s likely to be more fluid. You might find that your ideas about the World, and how you might represent its fashion system, develop as you start playing around.
The level of refinement of your prototype will depend on factors including the time available. Don’t worry about creating a perfect representation! The value of this activity lies in the process rather than the outcome.
Pause and reflect
Are you carrying any assumptions with you from the real world?
Would these apply in your parallel world?
Would you like to challenge them?
Document your prototype in images (photographs, screengrabs or digital files, as appropriate).
7. Write an ‘exhibition label’
A final task
Write a short ‘exhibition label’ of roughly 150 words to accompany your prototype(s).
When writing the label, imagine that your prototype is to be included in an exhibition of objects/images representing a whole range of parallel Worlds.
Your label is there to explain what the object/image is and to tell the viewer something about the World that it has come from.
Write from the perspective of a traveller who has just returned from the parallel world.
You can re-use some parts of the original 100-word outline that you started with, if you wish – but make sure that you reflect the shared understanding of the World you have developed, which might have stepped away from that original fiction.
What makes a good exhibition label?
- It summarises key ideas of the fictional world.
- It explains the prototype, ideally drawing our attention to specific elements or details.
- It stays ‘within the world’ and presents the world as real.
- It doesn’t refer to your creation of the prototype – so, avoid statements such as ‘As our prototype we created …’ or ‘We decided to use these colours because …’
Browse these Explorations to read some good examples of exhibition labels:
Congratulations – you’ve completed your Fashion Fiction Exploration!
When you’re ready, click the button below to submit your Exploration to the project.
The form will ask for up to five images and an exhibition label. If you have created a film or an audio file, you can upload it. If you have created online digital content, such as a website or Instagram account, you can enter the link.
First, you are invited to reflect on the World that you have envisioned via your prototype:
Pause and reflect
Looking back at your prototype, are there any elements of the real-world fashion system that you didn’t think to question in your interpretation of the fictional World?
If so, why do you think this is?
Finally, take ten minutes to reflect on the experience of envisioning a better World via the Fashion Fictions wonder-capture activity:
Feedback on this guide is welcome: please email Amy
Want another go? Feel free – you are very welcome to submit as many Explorations as you like!
Want to share or adapt this guide?
This guide is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International licence which allows you to share and adapt it in any medium and for any purpose, providing that you credit the author (Amy Twigger Holroyd / Fashion Fictions) and apply the same Creative Commons licence to whatever you create.
If you’d like to adapt the guide for a non-fashion focus, please visit the Adapting Fashion Fictions page.