Responsible Fashion Series

Can fashion save the world?*

*Please note that the responsible Fashion series emerged from the Fashion Colloqium series that ran from 2012-2019.


October 20-21-22 2021, AntwerpFeaturing: October 22 visit to the reopened Antwerp Fashion Museum (MoMu) and other unique fashion locations

Can fashion save the world?

We are presently in a crisis that is nothing like anything we have ever faced before and we were reminded of our Antwerp experience from the beginning of the 1990s.  Then, we were facing in Europe important societal changes, increasing globalization, an escalation in migration and the breakthrough of populist parties all over Europe. Antwerp became in 1993 the cultural capital of Europe and ran with the ‘tagline’: “Can the arts save the world?” What Antwerp 93 wanted to stimulate was a reflection and debate about the societal role that Arts and Culture (including fashion) could play and thereby offering innovative approaches through arts and culture as a utopic remedy. The crisis today might need something similar?  Thus, accordingly, we update our offer: can fashion save the world?  

Many of you might quickly agree that fashion can be known for its disruptive potential and therefore ahead of his time or alternatively you might see it differently, rather that it is symptomatic of today’s problems?  We claim that no other field of study and practice embraces change like fashion and here in Antwerp fashion designers have for a long time been known for their creativity and disruptive imagination. Therefore, we ask:

Might Creatives play a greater role in a changing world?

Back in the 1980s creativity was mostly understood as still based on the individual genius and/or practice of certain skills (craftsmanship). Today, some forty years later, it might be more accurate to understand that creativity no longer resembles this guise, but rather, now has evolved into something that is no longer seen as exclusively individual, but rather something that draws for its inspiration from influences from new sources:  sometimes from other disciplines, from other cultures or perhaps reevaluating our heritage, etc... Thus, we are witnessing a new birth and guise for creativity; perhaps one that is an interdisciplinary response? 

We need to think differently…more creatively perhaps in terms of new ways of working including forms of collaboration?  New technologies and processes?  What business models are necessary in order to survive and prosper? Perhaps what these observations lead to is a further question:  do we need to break a few things down before we can re-build? 

What are your thoughts? Perhaps you see these issues differently or you can offer ‘new’ ‘creative insights through fashion’?  If you are interested in this potential then we would like to invite you to join us in Antwerp so we can share our mutual understandings and questions.  Join us in Antwerp!

Conference theme

Keywords: Transition/change, Disruption, role of creativity, heritage and craftmanship, technology, gender fluidity, intergenerational issues, inter-relational creativity, circular economy, ecosystem 


Breaking stereotypes

Revisiting fashion imagery and gender fluidity

Breaking the internet

New technologies fashion: COVID-19 have shown the possibilities and limitations of the digital world for fashion. How can digital strategies reinforce the design process, the distribution and retail, fashion marketing, and consumption in fashion.

Breaking the mold

Do we need to develop new types contributors to the fashion world? How can we improve and find innovative and sustainable business models and new collaborative forms?

Breaking the economic system

How can we change the fashion economic system, one that has been based on fast fashion, hyper consumerism and exploitation into a more circular, and socially more balanced ecosystem?

Breaking the rules

Reflecting on fashion education: How should we prepare young people for the fashion industry? As an independent designer or part of a collective or a larger company?

Breaking down creativity

What have we learnt about managing creatives for the fashion industry?  What does creativity and craftsmanship mean in the 21st century? How does this impact on notions such as authorship?

Breaking down and building new roles

Fashion designers are looking to take on different roles within society: designing, curating exhibitions, collaborating with other arts sectors, and so on… And what is the role of leadership and management in this transition?