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Alessia Grassi, Steve Swindells and Stephen Wigley

Abstract

During the past 30 years, several Western European luxury fashion brands have invested resources in cultural initiatives distinctive from their core commercial activities. In particular, this has involved the brands establishing organisations (typically identified as ‘foundations’) dedicated to collecting and commissioning contemporary art by established and emerging artists. The suggested motives for these activities range from indulging the personal interest of the brands’ owners and managers, to a desire to invest their brands with cultural capital or creative heritage. This chapter is the first to explicitly investigate the phenomenon of luxury fashion brands’ ownership of contemporary art foundations, with the aim of understanding its nature, scope, and purpose. These will be considered in the context of the contradiction between the apparent desire for public engagement with the art foundations and the perceived exclusivity of the patron brands’ products and retail venues. The chapter investigates the phenomenon in two phases. First, an insight into specific cases of art foundations owned by luxury fashion brands is offered. This explores the internal structures of the relevant foundations and examines their programmes, communications, initiatives and connections with the patron brands. Secondly, expert interviews with relevant professionals will contextualise the role of the art foundations as a presumed meeting point between the inclusivity of public engagement and the exclusivity of fashion branding. This is an exploratory study representing the first stage of an on going project. It is informed by secondary research and primary qualitative research aimed at establishing a clearer understanding of the phenomenon under investigation. The chapter will provide insight into the contemporary nature of both luxury fashion branding and public engagement in an art exhibition.

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Claire Allen

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The relationship between fashion and music is an accepted product of our culture in both their expressive nature and performative requirements. ‘Both the fashion and music industries … are image-making industries’.1 Fashion and music co-exist in cultural institutions and are active in the production and expression of new and revised symbolism. Fashion is embedded in a social context providing a visual narrative, expressive of the culture. Likewise popular music exists in the same social context where the expressive narrative is audio. In a world obsessed with consuming increasingly more information content, the need to break out from this with cultural rhetoric increases ten-fold.

This chapter explores the fluid relationship of fashion and music, discussing the legitimisation of a specific moment through the mutual engagement of visual and aural expressions. Kawamura argues that ‘culture is not simply a product that is created, disseminated and consumed, but it is a product that is processed by organisational and macro-institutional factors’.2

The obsession of image construction for both industries (fashion and music) creates strong bonds, but all too often neglects the art form in favour of the commercially safe and proven formula informed by current consumer trends. Innovation remains on the fringes of both industries neither considering the other until commercialisation insists on a mutual collaboration in order to sell the product to consumers – each industry with the goal that the other will add legitimisation to their own art form.

There are four key areas considered in this paper: (i) the partnership of both art forms (fashion and music) and how they engage (ii) fulfilling emotional needs, (iii) the purpose of the bond and interdependency, and (iv) the cultural narrative, that is greater than the sum of its parts. The discussion draws together research from the two disciplines to explore their interdependency in the cultural legitimation process.

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Lan Lan and Peng Liu

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‘Same bed, different dreams’1 is a Chinese expression which reflects the ambivalent relationship in the collaboration between Chinese and Italian fashion corporations in the early years of 2000. More than a decade later, with the economic boom slowing down in China, the manufacturers have shifted focus to designer-driven product in order to better position themselves in the increasingly competitive market. It reflects the rise of ‘creative economy’ in China. Meanwhile, fashion schools in China have also realized the industrial shift in demanding highly innovative and creative designers who can turn ‘imagination into a product’.2 In response to the market, for example, the curriculum of the School of Fashion at Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology (bift) focuses on the engagement between body and clothing to provoke sensations which allows ‘a reflexive and elective sense of self’3 to be activated during the process of making, so called ‘slow fashion’. This paper draws rich discussions from body study and fashion study to further elaborate the idea of ‘slow fashion’ applied in Chinese fashion education. It delineates the relationship between body, as historical inherited and cultural embodied being,4 and clothing, as ‘performative aspect of self’5 or a ‘given identity’ through case studies at bift. Particularly, the investigation demonstrates how Chinese fashion students realize and develop a sense of individuality through ‘slow fashion’ reflecting to their traditional culture, while living in an urban lifestyle.

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Gaye S. Wilson

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This study began with a question. Can clothing that is largely uniform and issued systematically on a bi-annual basis function within the parameters of ‘fashion’ as defined by Veblen? The historic clothing in question is that issued to the enslaved people who lived and worked on a central Virginia plantation, Monticello, in the late 18th – early 19th centuries. Little remains as visual or physical evidence of the clothing beyond buttons, buckles and a few beads; therefore, this study relies primarily upon the farm records and correspondence of Monticello owner, Thomas Jefferson. His records are most complete for the year 1794, when he began recording clothing allotments that then continue through 1824, though some of the later lists contain less detail. His lists and letters provide information as to what, how much and to whom textiles and clothing accessories were issued. This still leaves unanswered the actual appearance of the slave garments as to cut and style, nevertheless the recorded allotments provide a basis for discussion of how the clothing functioned within the Monticello enslaved community.

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Ines Simoes and Mario Matos Ribeiro

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Conventionally the Fashion Design senior students of the University of Lisbon present to the public their final collections. Accordingly, until 2005 the graduation shows comprised solely the individual projects by the senior students of the 5-year BA programme. Therefore, with the implementation of the ‘Bologna Process’ (and the split of the former BAs into two study cycles) the graduation shows would also involve the senior students of the 3-year BA programme. However, we realized that they were not sufficiently creatively mature and technically competent, as each one tended to design basic and uninspiring collections. In 2015 we devised a strategy with the purpose of including third-year students in the graduation show, dividing each class into small teams, who respectively have to structure, design and make one capsule collection under a common theme. The main goal was to engage each class ‘in a coordinated effort to solve a problem together’,1 i.e., to develop a cohesive, complex and appealing collection together. The idea behind the adoption of the collaborative learning approach was also to oppose the enduring model adopted by fashion schools ‘all over the world [that] keep training students to become catwalk designers, highly individual stars and divas’.2 Instead we endorse the pedagogical practice of other creative disciplines that ‘have acknowledged the need in their students to cooperate and form groups [and] teams’.3 The impact of the three collaborative collections realized until now was perceived by most of the students as a ‘golden period, during which they learned from teachers and classmates more than they had learned the previous years of the course’, as one student stated. In fact, 95 per cent of them acknowledged how much the created collaborative environment contributed for their personal achievements, capabilities and competencies.

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Edited by Federica Carlotto and Natalie C. McCreesh

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Edited by Federica Carlotto and Natalie C. McCreesh

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Susanne Schulz

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Based on empirical data from 20 semi-structured interviews with designers, buyers and merchandisers of UK-based multiple womenswear retailers, this chapter examines the variations in retailers’ working practices with a particular emphasis on their product differentiation strategies. The theme running throughout this chapter is that of differentiation and similarity – a topic of enquiry commonly associated with Simmel’s essay on fashion.1 This discussion of the womenswear retailing industry demonstrates that, more than one hundred years after Simmel published his work, the dualistic tendencies of similarity and differentiation continue to fuel the modern fashion system.

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Edited by Federica Carlotto and Natalie C. McCreesh

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Edited by Federica Carlotto and Natalie C. McCreesh