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Wear Your Culture

In this blog post journalist, Kelly Bowerbank framed the conversation around the longstanding relationship fashion has when it comes to social and personal identity. The way we dress can communicate to others how we portray ourselves in different social situations, underlined by social expectations and norms, to how we express our sense of true self.

The Centre for Sustainable Fashion is a hosted a panel discussion entitled ‘Wear Your Culture’ to explore ideas around how fashion can communicate what we stand up for, an articulation of beliefs and concerns, and be a way for us all to have authorship over our lives.

Our bodies, what we put on them and what that expresses about our cultural context and ourselves was the stimulus for last night’s Being Human conversation at the Wellcome Trust.

To open the evening journalist Kelly Bowerbank framed the conversation around fashion as a means to vocalize our cultural concerns, and fashion as a place maker situating us in London as a fashion capital with a unique set of cultural parameters and influences. The conversation would touch on crime, the environment, gender and our cultural identity. The key questions we came back to throughout the evening were: Can fashion really be a mirror to society? Can we use fashion to voice our concerns? Can we use fashion to shape our culture?

During the evening we heard from Professor Lorraine Gamman from Design Against Crime, Professor Dilys Williams from Centre for Sustainable Fashion and Dr. Tom Corby from the University of Westminster, who each brought to the table a different angle on engaging people, communicating the expression of concerns, and approaching wicked problems in thought-provoking ways.

Professor Lorraine Gamman discussed how understanding and designing for crime is crucial to understanding what it means to be human and the importance of creating a participatory model of research and design. From people-centered design to Professor Dilys Williams discussing the importance of fashion in providing matter but also a message, as well as fashion making as a social process. Again, relationships and people were central as was the idea that wearing our culture is multi-faceted – how we are responded to, how we present ourselves, how we want to be seen.

Fashion holds up a mirror to the culture we live in. Dr Tom Corby added a connection between the digital data that is available to us now and art and design processes. Some of his current work is looking at capturing concerns of people here in the UK and in India in relation to the environment and violence against women. Part of the work he is doing is looking at social violence that springs from the environmental conditions this engenders. It was a lively and thought-provoking evening with face-to-face research being collated at end of the event by CSF.

Using limited edition, specially designed t-shirts to both start a conversation around people’s concerns but also to act as a gift, an acknowledgment that everyone’s time and thoughts are important and vital as we move forward to a greater understanding of what it means to be human.

Find out more about the Centre for Sustainable Fashion and Wear Your Culture on Twitter: @sustfash #CSFxBeingHuman or their website: