Fashion Proactionary - a post-crisis, late digital, community building and empowering micro-utopian future-of-fashion zine
Fashion Proactionary is a collaborately produced and many layered hand drawn zine which elaborates on future scenarios for fashion, beyond the current economic, politic and environmental paradigm. The aim of the zine is to produce a multiplicity of scenarios of how the driving forces of fashion could be developed into new shapes depending on the overall future development.
A critical perspective within fashion design exposes several cul-de-sacs or dead ends, as there seems to be inescapable paradoxes within fashion as a phenomenon; it is elitist while democratic, rebellious while uniform, shallow while political, artistic while totally commercial. With a critical agenda many fashion designers exceed with rich analysis and healthy distance with their subject, but often come to lack agency and paths for advancement, which is problematic in a field which usually promises a brave new future.
Problematic issues around power, gender, consumerism, post-colonialism, sustainability and health often seem unmanageable and without any real room for action. To preserve agency, critical design practice needs tactics to circumvent the anti-position, escape reactionary postures and move to higher ground for new perspectives. Fashion needs a proactionary discourse to expose new lines of flight.
During a three day workshop the first thematic issues of a handmade, hand drawn and photocopied zine, was created, which attempted to move beyond the reactionary stance of criticism. A temporary editorial design committee was formed to discuss, design, document and draw micro-utopian, pro-active and activism-based lines of practice for fashion design.
By illustrating future post-crisis, late digital or subcultural utopia issues the aim was to draw up a multitude of scenarios of what fashion could be beyond the existing paradigm and economical models. Discussions on possible futures, settings and plots outlined five potential tracks, and of each a "special issue" was made from the future perspective. Timelines were drawn, editorials were written, illustrations made, issues assembled.
Several questions were discussed. What can fashion be in a post-crisis world? What is post-sustainable? What is post-dressed-for-success, post-fashionable, post-surplus? What is fashion for community building, for skill enhancement, for liberation, for political awareness, for real social change? How would this future look like – and what would this mean to fashion designers and fashion media?
Images were made on tracing paper and all participants worked on each others drawings, adding layer upon layer of possible becomings. Erasing, re-editing, building up a reverse archeology of subsequent strata. All in the style of fashion magazines, however with a twist of odd fortune. At the end of the workshop five thematic issues of the illustrated zine Fashion Proactionary was printed and distributed to trend forecasters, fashion magazines and other media.
The zines created by Bas Beerts, Ying Cao, Niels Craens, Mariana Fernandes, Loes Glandorff, Jasmina Izetbegovic, Panagiotis Kovanis, Kate He Ling, Marijke Nota, juliana Ribeiro Azevedo, Gijs Roest, all great MA students at MaKHU, Utrecht School of the Arts.