Prequel: What is New Luxury?
PAD x State of Fashion, Searching for the New Luxury
- a conversation series about conscious fashion with Kai Chi Chuang
The day before I started to pen down my boiling thoughts on Conscious Fashion, a girl just about to enroll her study in Fashion Design in Paris approached me through a common friend. With all her freshman enthusiasm and curiosity, she said to me: “It’s so great to finally meet you in person! I’ve been waiting for the day you come back to Paris…I would love to learn about your thoughts on Sustainable Fashion while you tour around Europe attending all those professional events and hear about the platform you’ve been building! Sustainable Fashion…how can we get our hands on it?”
What do we talk about, when we talk about Fashion? – I see myself searching for answers in an equally eager way just like that freshman girl, throughout my near ten-year pursuit in the field of fashion. In June, when I read about State of Fashion on BoF online journal, I immediately booked myself a train ticket to Arnhem in the eastern Netherlands. Having had to change all my work schedules, no matter how, there I was, two days before the exhibition closed down.
State of Fashion (SoF) 2018 was curated and led by José Teunissen, Dean of the School of Design and Technology at London College of Fashion, UAL. Without limiting either forms or formats, State of Fashion is a quadrennial new pattern of international event, and this first edition, also as the world’s first international design and art exhibition centered around the theme– Searching for the new luxury.
Dedicated to explore a more sustainable future of the fashion industry–– to the general public, professionals within or outside the industry, medias, parties and International Organizations–– SoF showcases concretely that the coexistence between mankind and the planet earth in a sustainable manner is not as far as we imagine. Even right here, right now, already taking positive shape in this world.
Perhaps you would question whether this is but another fad, trendy advertising campaign in the name of “Faaashion”, however, I would like to dedicate this article and each article SoF in the following months to share my own learning and career experiences. Hopefully, it would alter your perspectives on fashion, fashion industry and…. your closet.
José Teunissen, curator at SoF and herself an established scholar and practitioner in the world of fashion, bravely unveiled an important truth: as a new fashion designer, perhaps you are still asking the question of whether you would be the next ‘star designer’ ; the answer is, no, ‘The star’ no longer exists. As a designer débuted out of the Parisian “classical couture” training, I have ventured into various fields: from “fast-fashion” to world’s leading luxury group, from design to supply-chain and then retailing…Throughout trials and tribulations, I had came to the rather relieving realization that echoes José.
Fashion designer as a profession, we are not as glamorous as you thought, we are permanently being pressured and rushed by the next Fashion Week or New Product Release, but nonetheless still shoulder the responsibility of influencing the public’s aesthetics and perspectives on material resources, to what extent have we been drawn to the over-mediatized, glossy appearance of the so-called fashion people? Or rather, are we willing to step outside of the vicious circle to find other paths and to let our passion rule, to create for a more diverse, innovative, and future-friendly, more fair and healthier new business model? Are we ready to use the glamour and potential of fashion as a tool to change the world?
As I sit in front my laptop, I can still vividly recall how deeply I was touched that day going through the SoF exhibition, learning and relishing each and every stand, for an entire six-hours. I used to feel lost and couldn’t find my own value working in the fashion industry till one and a half year ago, when I started to know about brands or individuals with disrupting ideas and practice for better, more sustainable fashion and thus entered into a boundless world following their footsteps. State of Fashion was such a source of enlightenment and enchantment for me.
It will be four years later in 2022 for the next State of Fashion to take place again in large scale. In the meantime, I would like to guide my readers all around the world through my column on PAD dedicated SoF, to experience and benefit from this disruptive exhibition, through words and images.