In its current state, the fashion system struggles to produce value. Responsible for both fuelling and exploiting a growing consumer demand for a faster and cheaper product, the industry has ironically educated consumers to believe that fashion has very little value. However, the environmental cost remains high as fashion continues to be a major contributor to the climate crisis.
Today’s luxury has been reinvented by brands such as Vêtements and Off-White. Through collaborating with mass-market companies these brands offshore manufacturing and produce luxury product using similar materials and manufacturers to their collaborators. This new luxury proposes value solely through social equity within the brand's identity. They have completely removed the method of production from their value equation, and their success highlights a paradigm shift in consumer perceptions of luxury.
This shift suggests that if we are not eager as designers to re-define our value systems away from the burgeoning rate of consumption, and into solutions-oriented products and systems, we risk defaulting to contributing to an inherently broken and cyclical process.
How then, do we operate as designers of the now and the new, facilitating and engaging in critical discourse to develop solutions and a furthered understanding of what it means to produce value today?
Discourse is a tool for debate on the contemporary change factors facing the fashion system, presented in three parts:
1. Two decks of stainless steel cards, everlasting and engraved with questions to, and prompts for, responses from the participants.
2. A happening, throughout the two days of the show, through appointments and impromptu invitations to show audience members, to join the conversation and unpick contemporary questions.
3. A POV, a live stream of the happening, displayed as a second POV on a screen within the lower level of the show venue. This second viewpoint questions the viewer as a bystander to these questions, silent, simply watching as the debates unfolds from a distance, asking one to consider their role and agency within the wicked problems (Rittel and Webber, 1973) created by the current fashion system.
School of Design
MA Fashion Womenswear, 2019
Chelsea Franklin is a designer and researcher specialising in the tools and methods used to design and produce fashion. Her work centres around investigating the roles of the machine and the labourer as agents of value, producing strategies that posing questions around the existing fashion system, while illuminating potential alternatives.
- BFA Apparel Design, Rhode Island School of Design. Providence, USA, 2014
- Designer, Levi Strauss & Co., San Francisco, 2014–2018; Collaborator, TSE, New York, 2014