Criticality in the mediation of fashion

Dick, Emma, Gobin, Kiran and Thomas, Peter (2015) Criticality in the mediation of fashion. In: Textual Fashion, 8-10 Jul 2015, University of Brighton, Brighton, United Kingdom.

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Abstract

Criticality in the Mediation of Fashion is a panel for discussion of the role of criticality in the mediation of fashion.

There appears to be a significant mis-match in the value of criticality in the contexts of the art school and the fashion industry. In the former, it plays a key role, and is often an aspect that students find highly challenging; in the latter, in the blogosphere in particular, it seems not to be very highly valued at all. This panel will consider why this seems to be the case, and will ask whether criticality has a place in the mediation of fashion anymore, drawing on examples from education, academia and the fashion industry.

The panel will consider:

- what “criticality” is understood to be/mean;
- what value/relevance “criticality” is perceived to have in the art school and in the fashion industry;
- how “criticality” is, or is not present or practised in the mediation of fashion, in the two contexts;
- how “criticality” can be expressed variously through image, text and garment;
- why this is the case.

Criticality in the Mediation of Fashion will combine two presentations with audience-led discussion. The presentations will focus on:
1. Contexts for criticality in fashion-writing;
2. Criticality in industry writing.

Our analysis will draw on literature considering the dual roles of fashion-writing as both critical and promotional and will apply this, as established stakeholders in both art school and industry, to reflections on the personal practice and rich interdisciplinary experience of members of the What’s that...? collective.

Paper 1: Critical approaches to mediating ‘ethical’ fashion
This paper provides a broad overview of the history and culture of the contexts for “criticality” in fashion writing, looking at examples of fashion journalism and charts the evolution of critical thinking and its introduction to academic studies of fashion in the 20th and 21st century curriculum of the British art school.
Taking ‘Ethical’ fashion as a key focus for the presentation, the paper will compare and contrast the ways in which the concepts of ethics and sustainability in fashion are mediated pedagogically through the academic text and how similar ideas are promoted commercially through industry-focused materials. This will be done through an analysis of the discourse of these texts.
The presentation looks at the ways in which image and text work together to perform contemporary critical debates on the ethics and sustainability agenda within fashion education and the fashion industry and opens up spaces for further discussions about the role of textual fashion within a world of goods and images.

Paper 2 Trend makers and taste makers
Has the era of the blogger surpassed that of the critic? With the traditional mediation of fashion being recorded and accounted through review and critique, these days through social media we have an almost instant account - visual and textual - of a collection or body of work. However, the judgment and authority of this account is variable.
Some bloggers have become extremely influential as taste makers in their own right and their perceived authority has begun to surpass that of expert fashion journalists working in traditional media. Armed with just a smart phone, these amateurs, or professional consumers, have become institutionalised as authorities on mediating catwalk fashion and some of them now run global empires of taste, securing substantial income from advertising, often without expressing any critical comment. Hashtags and a limit of 144 characters dictate the level to which an opinion can be built. These #fashioncommentators are reliant on their privileged access to the front row, and thus negative comment or critical thinking can limit their access to the shows.
This paper discusses examples of commentary from well-known bloggers and writers and explores how more traditional ideas about criticality and review co exists with more contemporary pithy soundbites, exponentially disseminated through cross-posting.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Keywords (uncontrolled): Fashion, Criticality, Mediation, Writing, Blogging, Reviewer, Ethical Fashion, Canon
Research Areas: A. > School of Art and Design > Fashion and Interiors
Item ID: 17284
Notes on copyright: Access to full text restricted pending copyright check.
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Depositing User: Peter Thomas
Date Deposited: 21 Jul 2015 16:14
Last Modified: 03 Jun 2019 19:04
URI: https://eprints.mdx.ac.uk/id/eprint/17284

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