Placing sustainability at the heart of fashion practice to help shape the next generation of designers, researchers and pioneers is MA Fashion Futures (MAFF) at London College of Fashion, UAL. Students explore and develop experimental fashion practices and theoretical perspectives, using a diverse range of methodologies and technologies, to critique and transform the current fashion industry.
For first time in history, UAL have created an online showcase which allows the public to explore the work of all of UAL’s graduates in one curated space – UAL Graduate Showcase. To celebrate its launch, we wanted to highlight five graduate projects from MA Fashion Futures, because as MAFF Acting Course Leader, Katelyn Toth-Fejel notes – “a meaningful change towards sustainability will require the transformation of our society at every level and these graduates are helping to re-imagine how we interact with fashion to develop more sustainable and fulfilling fashion experiences.”
“The MAFF graduates have investigated current fashion systems and diverse experiences to develop interdisciplinary research projects combining social and cultural knowledge with new technologies and design practice. They exemplify the new role of designers as critical thinkers and creative disrupters, pushing for a more sustainable and equitable future.”MA Fashion Futures Acting Course Leader, Katelyn Toth-Fejel
FillingTheGap – explorations on feeling ‘complete’Sara Marty
How does clothing affect our feeling of completeness? Can clothing as self-expression be considered self-care? How might sexual orientation influence the way people dress? And what role does community play in helping us feel complete?
Sara Liz Marty’s MA thesis explores care as a resilience strategy towards sustainability. The research focuses on individual ‘completeness’ within bisexuals in London, and how clothing, self-care and community may be able to contribute towards feeling ‘complete’. Six individuals were interviewed upon their personal experiences around bisexual identity, clothing and the concept of feeling ‘complete’ – established as a combination of feeling comfortable and confident.
The research finds that self-care is largely experienced as contributing towards personal wellbeing. Clothing proves tensional between exploration, expression and belonging and is both used to express and hide sexual orientation. Community is found to be a dilemma; small groups are seen as supportive, whereas the larger LGBTQIA+ community is at times still experienced as stigmatising. Greater efforts are needed to increase wider acceptance and understanding of bisexuality, with an aim to end bisexual erasure and identity denial.
The creative practice responds to the interviews by rendering the participants’ faces, bodies and environments and creating digital portraits. Some of the resulting visuals are translated into textile pieces with ‘completeness’ interpreted through embroidery processes.
Organs for Luxury (OFL)Chenxin Wang
Chinese millennials and Gen Z consumers have become the main force of luxury consumption. Behind the seemingly phenomenal growth in consumption are many young people who have not reached the economic level of consuming luxury goods. Examples of deformed consumer culture in China like kidney trading for iPhones or ‘naked loans’, are the starting point of this project. Chenxin Wang‘s project uses the semiotic language of Chinese social media. The ironic imagination of this consumption culture is explored using speculative design methods and photography.
Women versus societyGabriella Bilotta
Lingerie can make one feel empowered yet also lead women to feel undermined and ashamed of their bodies. With the endless waste seen in lingerie from petroleum-based materials and ill-fitting garments, how can a garment truly fulfil its purpose if not constructed with a women-centred design approach? Gabriella‘s project investigates how positive consumer product experience is achieved, explores a women-centred design approach, and promotes the longevity of garments life cycle through personal storytelling and design.
Storing memories in our clothingAbhinov Asokan
What if clothes and memories exist together? If we value our memories, we will inevitably value our clothes.
Storing memories in our clothing is a speculative design project that encourages an emotional relationship with our clothing. This relationship is deemed to slow the rate of consumption caused by fashion obsolescence. Abhinov created clothing that comes to life in a virtual world, this piece of clothing has a soul, consciousness and some memories. It is powered by data, this data is from you. This clothing is a part of you and your consciousness. His project started with an exploration of the longevity of a product and user-product relationships, and took a techno-spiritual turn towards the end; together aimed at critiquing the current system to create an alternate future.
Imaging a world where our clothes are alive and have consciousness. When you are having a conversation with your friend, even your clothes are listening to those conversations and storing them in their own imaginary brains. Abhinov created an augmented reality application which stores digital versions of my friends and their voice messages. The garment will come to life when you point the phone camera at me.
Climate CohortAnustha Kishor
Anustha‘s project brings to life some forgotten low-impact Indigenous cultures of Southern Asia facing extremes of climate for centuries, to aid Fashion industry’s fight against the current Climate Emergency. In the form of a Climate Cohort, this project hopes to raise awareness around the natural and ecological techniques being used across these 3 regions in the Indian subcontinent facing the same wrath of Climate namely: Harsh winters of the Indo-Tibetan region of Ladakh in Northern Himalayas, Dry & arid salt desert Rann of Kutch shared across the India-Pakistan Line of Control and the ‘wettest place on Earth’, Mawsynram in North-Eastern India. Each of these tribal regions is portrayed through a representative in this Climate Cohort: the Himalayan(s) He-man, unHeated Honcho and the Monsoon Messiah respectively.
Utilising specific Traditional Ecological Knowledge backed by scientific justifications, by the means of indigenous lifestyle techniques and low-impact architectural styles, to maintain the sacrament of nature, is the key fundamental of this Masters Project. A journey spreading across 3,000 kms along the Indian subcontinent, learning and collaborating with local crafts-persons and artisans of the Ladakhi tribe, the Kutchi tribe and the Khasi tribe brought the Climate Cohort to flesh. To engage a wider audience with this narrative, Augmented Reality filters were also adopted. In a nutshell, ‘Climate Cohort is an idea to bring about an Alternative Future of Fashion, to give back to nature by going back in time.’