While I appreciated Siki Im’s lecture and readings, instead of focusing directly on his work this week, and with Stephanie’s encouragement, I’m going to begin to flesh out the statement I made in the last paragraph of my post on Alison Matthews David’s work, which is basically that fashion victimization, and the strategy of using publicity to address this victimization in the hopes of effecting change, is no new news. It got me wondering, why is it that in many ways fashion practices and systems have not really changed much for the better in the last century despite media attention? And what does this mean for us, as contemporary thinkers/makers, in how we address the problems we see and experience in the system and practice of fashion?
I think these are complex questions that necessitate evolving, pluralistic responses, but one connection I’ve been contemplating while listening to our guest speakers over the course of the semester is the importance of the link between fashion and pleasure. I think that the desire for experiencing pleasure is a strong motivator of human action and that people often do things that are in some way related to seeking pleasure. But seeking/attaining pleasure is a complex experience, and one that can be attached, sometimes concurrently, to both constructive and destructive actions that involve our selves, our communities (local and global) and our planet.
Perhaps one way of effecting greater change regarding the destructive aspects of fashion is for fashion thinkers/makers to focus more on how the experience of pleasure is an important ongoing component of the human experience, and how constructive pleasure can be encouraged and cultivated mentally and materially. Timo Rissanen touched on this idea some in his lecture regarding fashion utopias. If the ubiquitous human desire for experiencing pleasure is acknowledged as legitimate, given weight and space in the exploration of issues of injustice and accountability, maybe it can help to further evolve positive fashion practices by way of soothing the fear that change equals the revocation of pleasure.
Many of our speakers this semester, both the designers and the theorists (and the designer/theorists) are situated at this intersection of associating pleasure and fashion in new ways, but I wonder how much they, or other advocates of alternative fashion systems and practices are directly acknowledging and considering pleasure, the idea that pleasure can motivate choices and how that can be used as a tool for shifting aspects of fashion. Fast fashion and fast food harness ideas associated with pleasure and the effect is largely destructive. But the slow food movement also offers direct associations with pleasure to extend its influence and perhaps this growing success can further inform the strategies of those of us who advocate change in fashion.