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Items: Is Fashion Modern? An Abecedarium.

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) created a two day event, to begin the countdown for the exhibition Items, which will open at MoMA at the end of 2017.

I was honored to participate as a speaker, sharing the podium with NY designer Mary Ping from Slowandsteady Winstherace, as part of the ‪#‎ItemsMoMa‬‪ #‎Abecederium‬ ‬ answering Is Fashion Modern? and address the letter R = Rana Plaza. Curated by Paola Antonelli, Alexandra Midal and Michelle Fisher.

“MoMA first tackled this area of applied creativity seven decades ago. The salon on Sunday night will reprise the question that entitled Bernard Rudofsky’s 1944 MoMA exhibition Are Clothes Modern? This first MoMA exhibition on the subject will be the paragon for a contemporary appreciation of the universe of fashion and garments, both in the May event and in the exhibition. Recalibrating the question for our present moment–Is fashion modern?–we will consider the way in which items are designed, manufactured and distributed, and we will ponder the multivalent relationships between clothing and functionality, cultural etiquettes, aesthetics, politics, labor, economy, and technology as they are experienced in the immediate present.”

You can find the video on MoMA’s YouTube channel (each speaker is timestamped for ease of access):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wyuUh7ZEp8s

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Here is my view on the subject:

The Rana Plaza disaster is a wound that hasn’t healed, but this tragedy was not in vain…

It immediately sparked controversy and turned the spotlight onto cheap fast-fashion brands, where price trumps quality. And the general public was able to witness “who” is really paying the price. It certainly provoked a call to action around the issues that were being discussed in the Ethical Fashion circles for years.

The apparel industry is archaic, complex, inefficient, polluting and is currently undergoing major changes.

The manufacturing model in Bangladesh is low tech, labor intensive, highly un-regulated, suffering from labor exploitation and environmental issues.

In my opinion, educating a new generation of fashion designers has to become a dialog. It is necessary to openly share the facts and address the blind spots in order to tackle the challenges ahead. It is also an invitation for the students to develop solutions around the issues of resource scarcity, responsible sourcing, lean manufacturing, transparency in the supply chain and much more.

We are also experiencing moments of consciousness. The Linear Economy Model of “take, make, waste” failed.  Today, we need to step into the Circular Economy business model, where we eliminate waste at the conception phase and apply Design for Disassembly and repurpose those materials.

Our language also needs to evolve. I believe “responsibility and accountability”, will redefine the future for a resilient fashion industry. Another objective should include a shift from a hyper-consumption experience towards mindful consumption, and it simply means that we are aware our decisions have an impact.

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Below are some thought provoking images from Paola Antonelli’s introduction to the topic.

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Q&A discussion moderated by Paola Antonelli

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The infographics for our presentation R = Rana Plaza, were created by WinnieWan from Studio Lin.

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Finally relaxed, with my friends Marco Antonio Castro, Evyenia Gennadiou and Tina Schenk 🙂

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