Timefullness – an exploration of timeless fashion in the context of sustainability
There is an urgent need to reevaluate current consumption habits and design practices in the fashion industry. In an effort to design clothing that not only lasts longer but is also kept longer, timeless aesthetics are to be considered. But what is timeless and how may it be assessed in the context of the ever-changing cultural Zeitgeist?
To find out what it is that makes people cherish certain items over a long period of time I got in touch with people over the age of 60. Their experience of time and perspectives on timeless or long-lasting fashion is the core of this research. The conversations aimed to get different people to share what garments had proven to be timeless for them and then compare the answers I had gotten in order to define some general guidelines for designing timeless clothing.
As I was listening back on the recorded conversations and compared the garments I had been presented to find commonalities, I realised that generalising these perspectives into guidelines for aesthetically timeless fashion design does not work. What is considered long-lasting or timeless varies heavily from person to person and seems rather unpredictable.
This timeless aesthetic characterised by minimalism and simplicity is to be questioned as cultural erasure is closely tied to colonialism and westernisation. Therefore, it is crucial to view common definitions of timelessness or long-lasting beauty critically considering the cultural context the definition was derived from.
In order to propose solutions that align with the diversity of viewpoints that came up during the conversations, a series of events were organised that corresponded to the different approaches to sustainable practices of the participants. Aiming to create a more exciting and engaging fashion culture in Växjö that opens up spaces to explore sustainable and alternative fashion practices, fellow students Ashleigh Spooner, Leonie Engisch and I collaborated with a multitude of local establishments to conduct this fair fashion action week. It included several mending and altering workshops, exhibitions and window displays, a film screening, a pop-up shop and a clothes swap party.
Building this collective and working communally has enriched the process by giving us agency and empowerment to act, the same notions we aimed to convey through our work.
By speaking to people older than 60 I realised that what is timeless varies a lot depending on who you ask. This participatory research process also made me question the Western design canon.