World 47

In World 47 in the early 1990s, a radical group of fashion students used their highly developed forecasting skills to predict environmental and social devastation, if the clothing industry were to continue on its path of ever-increasing production and overseas expansion. 

Squatting factories and chaining themselves to machines, the group won public support and forced business owners to agree to limit clothing production. They also implemented a 15-year apprenticeship scheme, involving on-the-ground training in every facet of the fashion system. With designers now guided, like doctors, by the principle of ‘do no harm’, great ethical deliberation precedes every design act.

What if …

fashion designers had to take full ethical responsibility for their actions?

Issue targeted:

designers not having the training or opportunity to fully consider the implications of the products that they design

Inspiration:

Defuturing: A New Design Philosophy by Tony Fry

This World was contributed by Emily Rickard and Amy Twigger Holroyd (located in Nottingham, UK) using a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International licence which allows others to share and adapt the work in any medium and for any purpose, providing that they credit the author and share their material using the same Creative Commons licence.

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World 46

A staggeringly large bequest, made by an eccentric fashion figure to the municipal library service in a major city in World 46 fifteen years ago, led to the creation of a network of landmark clothes libraries.

The impressive variety and quality of the collection quickly attracted attention and the majority of local residents now dress almost exclusively in library items, which can be borrowed for up to six weeks. A small subscription fee contributes to maintenance, including regular acquisitions in response to member requests.

The city has become internationally renowned for its sartorial style and minimal fashion-related carbon footprint. 

What if …

borrowing, rather than owning, clothes was the norm?

Issue targeted:

heaving wardrobes full of unworn clothes

Inspiration:

clothes rental services; the brilliance of libraries

This World was contributed by Amy Twigger Holroyd (located in Nottingham, UK) using a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International licence which allows others to share and adapt the work in any medium and for any purpose, providing that they credit the author and share their material using the same Creative Commons licence.

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World 45

In World 45, window coverings – rather than personal wardrobes – are the focus of fashion. Since the development of power looms in the Industrial Revolution, people have been superstitious about cutting newly woven cloth; consequently, all textiles are initially used as curtains. It is considered bad luck to make a curtain into garments or other items until it has been hung for at least a year. 

With textile production inevitably limited, fabric is highly valued and remaking is a necessity. A garment made directly from curtain fabric is kept for best, while ‘everyday’ items are typically remade from other worn-out clothes.

What if …

customs meant that fabric was valued and reused?

Issue targeted:

overproduction and overconsumption

Inspiration:

people expressing themselves and connecting with others via items in their windows during 2020 lockdown; the design-for-sustainability idea of a cascade of use, with multiple iterations; instructions for cutting children’s clothes from adult garments

This World was contributed by Amy Twigger Holroyd (located in Nottingham, UK) using a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International licence which allows others to share and adapt the work in any medium and for any purpose, providing that they credit the author and share their material using the same Creative Commons licence.

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World 44

In World 44, members of a niche movement have an unconventional approach to style: they commit to personify a book for a year. The subculture emerged ten years ago from a reading group’s discussions of Fahrenheit 451, and particularly the ‘drifters’ who memorise books to keep them safe.

This self-imposed dress code – which might represent a key character or the mood of the story – is typically expressed subtly through everyday clothes; obviously costume-esque interpretations are generally ridiculed. New personas are unveiled (and discarded clothes, associated with the previous book, exchanged) in the carnival atmosphere of the annual Fahrenheit Fashion festival.

What if …

people subscribed to an alternative dress code that rejected fleeting trends but allowed for the expression of identity?

Issue targeted:

lack of diverse dress codes meaning an over-subscription to manufactured and short-lived trends

Inspiration:

I *think* that I picked this idea up, a long time ago, from halfbakery.comFahrenheit 451; Disneybounders

This World was contributed by Amy Twigger Holroyd (located in Nottingham, UK) using a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International licence which allows others to share and adapt the work in any medium and for any purpose, providing that they credit the author and share their material using the same Creative Commons licence.

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World 43

In World 43, a progressive UK government recognised the disastrous impacts of the fashion industry and passed the Environmental Sumptuary Act (2015). The controversial law limited production of clothing and banned the sale of all blue textiles, both new and used. Further colour-based restrictions will be introduced every ten years.

With the now-finite resource still in demand, an impromptu system has emerged in which blue clothes are exchanged and repaired at community-run ‘Blue Fashion Commons Hubs’. Rules govern the use of these hubs: people must donate garments, skills or time to become commoners and earn the right to withdraw items.

What if …

garments were treated as a shared resource, rather than bought and sold?

Issue targeted:

overconsumption; market-based transactions crowding out diverse economies in the fashion system

Inspiration:

The concept of the fashion commons, which I introduced in my book Folk Fashion: Understanding Homemade Clothes; theories of the commons and commoning; informal groups and projects in my area (Sherwood, Nottingham) that enable the free exchange of unwanted items

This World was contributed by Amy Twigger Holroyd (located in Nottingham, UK) using a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International licence which allows others to share and adapt the work in any medium and for any purpose, providing that they credit the author and share their material using the same Creative Commons licence.

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World 42

In World 42 a positive-post-popularist world emerges from fragmentary protectionist, political movements (e.g. Brexit). Here new norms of multi-localism reject ‘mass-production’ due to a lack of social, political and environmental transparency, provenance and pedigree, favouring instead locally derived ‘base-lines’. Neighbourhoods grow and construct a singular garment locally that is offered as a ‘base-line’ type.

Users can explore infinite interpretations within the axis of culture and/or functionality – uniformity and/or diversity through mass-micro re-configurations. Clothing is used to enact a socio-political paradigm where locality catalyses and reinvigorates positive notions of diverse-uniformity, sub-culture, tribal-pragmatism and eco-logic and an ever evolving valuable, hyper-local vernacular.

What if …

fashion could be used to redirect and reform locally situated, cultural value – heading towards methods to support new vernaculars of place?

Issue targeted:

Working with and inspired by communities and activists in different regions of the world consumer demand and culture appears to often desire and demand the same homogenous product (brands), dismissing local variations and types. This (generally speaking) relates to a loss of sub-cultural diversity and stymies the proliferation of socio-economic and environmental eco-systems and the many values that more place-based creativity, production, use and ‘fashion’ expression can offer.

Inspiration:

The many examples of global (often artisan) local resource and production methods that may already offer ‘answers’ to the many problems and criticisms the industry faces. Ranging from examples of symbiotic production methods using ‘natural’ resources that can support bio diverse ecosystems to the explosion of creative, subcultural archipelago-of-ideas that form around islands of creativity and inventiveness in different regions in one place, when I grew up in the late 1970’s and 80’s.

This World was contributed by Nick Gant (located in Brighton, UK) using a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International licence which allows others to share and adapt the work in any medium and for any purpose, providing that they credit the author and share their material using the same Creative Commons licence.

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World 41

In World 41 from 2015, countries worldwide ceased importing second-hand clothes due to diminishing quality and a desire to reinvigorate local textile cultures and economies. Consequently UK charities start cutting damaged garments into component parts for reuse.

While unusable bits are still ragged, the usable elements enter a vibrant and growing spare parts market. Shop staff with making and design skills advise customers on selecting and combining components from a colour-blocked array of garment parts. This has led to an enhanced understanding of clothes, proliferation of making skills and more bespoke and imaginative attitudes to clothes that evolve over time.

What if …

‘waste textiles’ were sold as spare parts?

Issue targeted:

clothing waste and export/dumping of unsaleable second hand items in Africa

Inspiration:

the kids’ drawing game of consequences; reclaiming and reuse of car parts

This World was contributed by Sally Cooke (located in Leeds, UK) using a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International licence which allows others to share and adapt the work in any medium and for any purpose, providing that they credit the author and share their material using the same Creative Commons licence.

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Please share any such examples using this form. Thank you!

World 40

In World 40, clothing has evolved in a way that is ‘biocontinuous’ with animalistic fur shedding, preening, and moulting etc. The origin of this culture can be traced to a juncture in human evolution in the pre-historic world on the landmass of the African continent.

Weaving and plaiting ‘technologies’ using hair and other fibrous materials are integrated with the body; in effect, the composition of body contours, textures and hair become the proto-warp. And so, body coverings or clothing are individually adaptable based on temporal factors and life stages. Clothing practices in this world promote everyday sensuality and new paradigms of consumption, disposal and self expression deeply connected to the physical and developmental.

What if …

fabric making (in evolutionary terms) was located on and integrated with the body and had never been externalised onto devices such as looms or frames?

Issue targeted:

consumption based on needs; body positivity; sensuality and self expression

Inspiration:

Climate, Clothing, and Agriculture in Prehistory Linking Evidence, Causes, and Effects by Ian Gilligan (2018) and Don’t Touch My Hair by Emma Dabiri (2019)

This World was contributed by Elaine Igoe (located by the south coast of England, UK) using a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International licence which allows others to share and adapt the work in any medium and for any purpose, providing that they credit the author and share their material using the same Creative Commons licence.

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World 39

In 2013 in World 39, the Dhaka garment factory disaster, along with the admission of conclusive evidence linking non-sustainable fashion production chain practices to chronic illness, spur a child strike in Bangladesh, India and China, led by the Rana Plaza orphans, an event which in turn sparks global school walk-outs, finally forcing transnational labeling legislation.

Global Care Labeling System pictograms indicate factors such as: use of child labor; toxicity of treatment and/or dyeing processes; garment degradation time; water waste; factory conditions; percentage of retail price received by laborers. Consumer practices shift radically as a result of impact awareness, forcing manufacturer accountability and thus sustainable practices.

What if …

a mandatory “Global Care Labeling System” similar to those found on laundering labels, were prominently featured on hangtags and garment labels, shifting consumer habits and thus forcing a radical change in production practices and manufacturer accountability?

Issue targeted:

waste, overproduction, overconsumption, labor justice, labor conditions, unfair trade practices and unsustainable production chains, pollution, illness

Inspiration:

Greta Thunberg, child-led initiatives to create global awareness, consumer awareness and power

This World was contributed by Jeannine Diego (located in Mexico City, Mexico) using a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International licence which allows others to share and adapt the work in any medium and for any purpose, providing that they credit the author and share their material using the same Creative Commons licence.

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World 38

In World 38, during prehistory humans were unable to hunt and kill animals for their skins as the first body-coverings. Natural materials were applied with layers of mud to keep ourselves warm. Tribes stayed in warm climates leading to advanced civilisations in the global south and a homogenous skin colour. Animals were held in high respect and revered within communities.

Societies developed without patriarchy as there were no hunters. Wealth and status could not be expressed through furs and silks as body covering were functional and practical with flowers used for celebrations. Plant cultivators were the most highly regarded within society.

What if …

as a species we were not able to hunt animals for their skins?

Issue targeted:

rethinking the value of clothes and materials

Inspiration:

veganism!

This World was contributed by Ismay Mummery (located in Ashby de la Zouch, UK) using a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International licence which allows others to share and adapt the work in any medium and for any purpose, providing that they credit the author and share their material using the same Creative Commons licence.

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