S O U N D . I T . I S Research Document

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I DI N A S L D T A I I B O T K N U I T AM G M MB A E / ST V E E M ME R RI IN ER A L LY L D D T I I I A V T N W I VI M I H K D A NG IJ / AL I D /A F S PR DB S/ UA MS T B A H T O I M L T A S H E EN JE L YR S/ ER U L A I N M TS O A B CT I T 31 D A H S ST TR N RR ER M G/ E M M H B M A G A D A F I ER AA R A T E N 1 O E Y A 2 N DA T AN IV /“ A RI S 2 S 2 JU WE M 2- D/ E RE GE S M 01 HI S I 0 1 L Y E K F A 4 / W I O F V I R : A T/ 3 / O N 3

M

RESEARCH

DOCUMENT


| Searching for innovation in fashion presentation: reviving the narrative

ABSTRACT On the runway, the spectacle of storytelling has been transformed by new media practices. To provide a frame for concept development and prototyping for a solution to revive the narrative elements of fashion culture, several design research methods are selected and employed on behalf of the Amsterdam Fashion Institute. A literary review, a digital ethnography, and a wake up interview provide a working body of knowledge for persons unfamiliar with the context of the fashion industry. Beginning with a historical overview of how fashion has been presented, the literary review fuels a discussion of the evolution of the catwalk show. The abbreviated digital ethnography research reveals several telling examples that illustrate the state-of-the-art of fashion presentation. Through a wake-up interview, an exploration of the philosophy of the iNDiViDUALS brand and its target groups provides the beginnings of persona research, key to eventually documenting prototypes. Finally, an investigation of the possibility to invoke a narrative at catwalk shows in the context of Amsterdam Fashion Week (AFW) provides practical details as well as a theoretical context for the catwalk. The conclusion: innovation is required to integrate new media in a way that revives the narrative of fashion culture in the context of the iNDiViDUALS brand. keywords: narrative, storytelling, catwalk, digital media, iNDiViDUALS, fashion culture

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TABLE OF CONTENTS ABSTRACT ........................................................................................................................... 1 RESEARCH METHODS ......................................................................................................... 5 Literary Review ................................................................................................................................ 5 Digital Ethnography ......................................................................................................................... 6 Target Groups .......................................................................................................................... 6 THE HISTORY OF FASHION PRESENTATION ..................................................................... 7 Conclusion .................................................................................................................................... 11 WHAT’S BEEN DONE: WORLDWIDE INNOVATION ......................................................... 11 Unconventional Presentations ......................................................................................................... 12 Social Media ................................................................................................................................. 15 Apps During the Fashion Week ...................................................................................................... 16 Digital Projection Techniques ......................................................................................................... 16 Augmented Reality ........................................................................................................................ 18 Linking e-Commerce to the runway ................................................................................................. 18 Conclusion .................................................................................................................................... 19 iNDiViDUALS BRAND AND PHILOSOPHY ........................................................................ 20 iNDiViDUALS: a brand or a program?.............................................................................................. 21 Philosophy .................................................................................................................................... 22 Conclusion .................................................................................................................................... 23 TARGET GROUPS .............................................................................................................. 25 Students ....................................................................................................................................... 25 Teachers ....................................................................................................................................... 26 Celebrities .................................................................................................................................... 26 Press and Bloggers ........................................................................................................................ 26 Retailers ....................................................................................................................................... 27 Other Designers and Fashion Houses .............................................................................................. 27 Broader Public .............................................................................................................................. 28 INVOKE NARRATIVE IN A FASHION SHOW AT AFW ...................................................... 28 Closed character ........................................................................................................................... 30 Tension between spectator and performer ................................................................................ 32 Context of Amsterdam Fashion Week ......................................................................................... 33 Conclusion .................................................................................................................................... 36 COMPREHENSIVE CONCLUSION ..................................................................................... 37 More info:

www.medialab.hva.nl/individuals..................................................................... 39

BIBLIOGRAPHY .................................................................................................................. 40

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INTRODUCTION The MediaLAB Amsterdam is part of CREATEIT and continuously conducts applied research on innovative interactive media applications, both part of the school of Design & Communication at the Hogeschool van Amsterdam. Students brought on by the MediaLAB Amsterdam work in international multidisciplinary teams. In twenty weeks they research, conceptualize and eventually develop a working prototype or demo in collaboration with their innovation partners. The teams are guided by experts from the creative industries, which brings together designers, programmers, social/digital experts, researchers, copywriters and storytellers. The Amsterdam Fashion Institute (AMFI), celebrating its twenty year anniversary in 2012, is one of the leading fashion education programs worldwide. As a component of the Hogeschool van Amsterdam, the 100 teachers of the AMFI educate about 1100 students. In an effort to further internationalize their education and broaden their students’ repertoire of experiences, the Institute has created its own design-driven fashion collection known as iNDiViDUALS. Connecting about eight students from each of the major disciplines of the school: Design, Management and Branding; the twenty-week collaboration produces a full collection presented to the industry at Amsterdam Fashion Week. According to Peter Leferink, creative director of the iNDiViDUALS program, the most educational value for the students comes from the demanding work experience and interdisciplinary collaboration required (Modeconnect, 2010). For most students, this presentation is their first encounter with producing a show for the professional runway. Students produce unique, one-of-a-kind pieces to showcase their individual craftsmanship and ideas as well as production pieces that are sold to a number of luxury and designer retailers. iNDiViDUALS also / 38


How can the narrative of

fashion

revived

media

culture

through

be

digital

in the context of the

iNDiViDUALS brand

?

operates its own retail store By AMFI at the Spui in Amsterdam where both types of garments are merchandised and sold. Even if AMFI students are not participating directly in the specialized semester-long iNDiViDUALS program, students have additional opportunities to showcase their designs to the industry and a broader public at the graduation event held each year during the summer months. The presentations typically include a catwalk show, a roundtable discussion, and a networking event. This year, Director of the Amsterdam Fashion Institute Souraya Bouwmans-Sarraf looks to AMFIs rich past to create concepts for the future. Her and her colleagues have partnered with the MediaLAB Amsterdam to find a solution to the following problem: How can the narrative of fashion culture be revived through digital media in the context of the iNDiViDUALS brand? The following subquestions help to define the problem and help to answer the main research question: • What is the narrative of fashion culture historically and currently? • What’s the state-of-the art in digital media currently used in fashion culture? • What is the philosophy of the brand iNDiViDUALS and how has this philosophy been expressed? • Where lie possibilities to invoke narrative in a fashion show, in particular at the Amsterdam Fashion Week? The research phase of the assignment includes presenting a context for the project and producing evidence that leads to the development of design requirements. The documentation of the research phase includes in-depth research to build a common body of knowledge to uncover the narrative behind fashion culture so that it can be analyzed from the context of the iNDiViDUALS brand. Both the upcoming design and concepting phases

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include research on the technical possibilities and definitions that are used in planning for the prototyping phase. The purpose of this document is to uncover possible areas of interest to begin our concepting phase. Thus, technical possibilities and concrete ideas about concepting are not included in this document. The outcome of the innovation partnership between MediaLAB Amsterdam and AMFI will be a working prototype of a platform that can be delivered to the iNDiViDUALS program and subsequently carried on by the program’s future generations of students. The platform itself will allow iNDiViDUALS students to utilize new media to showcase their collection during their runway show at the Amsterdam Fashion Week. In order to provide a context for and answers to the questions above, the research methods that were used are described below in more detail.

RESEARCH METHODS Literary review has been used to develop a common knowledge base that serves as a springboard for both practical and theoretical concepts. Digital ethnography was selected as a methodology because of its ability to integrate the dynamic and networked aspect of media that has emerged around the presentation of fashion shows. Target groups were developed in an attempt to reveal the goals and attitudes of users who might engage with such a platform during an iNDiViDUALS fashion show. Although it is a commonly used method, personal interviews will be conducted in the concepting phase instead. This is in part due to the compressed timeline for the research documentation, but mostly due to the desire to extract knowledge from the network of experts once a concept for the platform/solution has been developed.

LITERARY REVIEW Popular press, news articles, and scholarly resources were examined to reveal the current /5


state-of-affairs regarding new media usage in fashion culture. Documenting the current narrative of fashion culture and the story behind iNDiViDUALS brand demonstrates an understanding of the context in which the solution is being developed. For each relevant section of text in the document, in-line citations are made to support research claims. Making statements about fashion culture from a theoretical perspective as well as a practical one also allows for feedback about any gaps in understanding.

DIGITAL ETHNOGRAPHY To understand the scope of what has been accomplished on the runway, a deep exploration of catwalk shows of the past was conducted. Although a traditional ethnography is carried out longitudinally, the compressed time frame of the research period allowed for only an isomorphic mirroring of the methodological structure. Examining video footage and photographic stills, a catalog of innovative fashion presentations using the mainstream social media platform Pinterest was compiled. This format was chosen because of its ease of use by multiple users and from multiple sources of information, but also because of its visually-oriented layout. True to digital ethnographic form, the interactions that occur within the network of these videos, such as buzz or additional link sources, were documented.

TARGET GROUPS Basic descriptions of target groups that will eventually inform the platform design and requirements documentation in the form of personas were created. Each stakeholder to the AFW presentation of the iNDiViDUALS collection has been identified and profiled. Although these users may take on additional roles and express different attitudes in other contexts, the context of these target groups was limited to an AFW catwalk show. These descriptions typify in words a characteristic user of the brand and his experience goals that are /6


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activated during interactions between the brand’s presentation and its audience. For applicable target groups, personal interviews will be conducted during the concepting phase to confirm and further develop assumptions about the user’s attitudes towards and standards of fashion presentations.

THE HISTORY OF FASHION PRESENTATION By understanding how storytelling happens, through what channels specifically, it becomes clearer why the catwalk has been cemented as the chief professional platform upon which to present a collection of garments. What is the narrative of fashion culture historically and currently? The usefulness of understanding such a question is to generalize about the act of narrative storytelling as it occurs in fashion culture. Through time, how the cult and culture of fashion emerges and dissipates through civilization is observable from many angles. A creator delivers a product to customers, but at a more abstract level to many audiences this product is much more than just fabric and stitches. Beyond the physical creation of garments, the context in which the garment is created also produces many other forms of media that are, according to the creedo of the Journal of Fashion Theory “the cultural construction of the embodied identity” (Berg Publishers, 2013). In the context of fashion, a narrative draws on traditions that have developed over time and grow to be expected by members of the audience. Determining if something is fashionable or not requires examination of the norms created from a set of individuals that make up a culture. The cultural identity beyond the garment takes its form in images and text, working together to produce a narrative that

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yields a set of values and beliefs that evolve between the creator and his audience. In the adoption of these narratives, the audiences also construct their own identity by appropriating its values and blending it with their own identity. Experimentation within and conformity to any particular components of the narrative are only recognized by fashion culture at large if these images are distributed through structured channels of communication. Although this communication is mostly non-verbal, the channels that allow the communication of such a narrative to take place are evolving rapidly, providing a project context of flux. Images of fashion, in the broadest sense of the term, have evolved from handdrawn illustrations to moving digital images. Traditional static photography is morphing into fashion film as consumer-grade hardware is becoming less expensive. Although the ability of consumers to purchase the garments using the same off-the-shelf hardware has received much attention of late, the images used in this commercial context are largely static. Some high street brands are attempting to make exclusive distribution of their brand’s fashion images a source of competitive advantage, but their audience’s adoption of digital communication channels have led to a loss of control from the brand’s perspective. Another evident trend of late is the engagement of designers with musea and artistic exhibitions. Two years ago, the original designers of Valentino worked with an agency to create a virtual museum of the brand’s history, replete with 3D renderings of the famous garments, a digital artefact that could extend the reach of the history beyond the four walls of a gallery (Business of Fashion, 2011). Also, designer Alexander McQueen’s lifetime work was exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, featuring some of his most norm-breaking designs. According to the curator Andrew Bolton, the designer actually started the inspiration for each collection with an idea for the runway presentation; combining art, film, and music as well as synesthetic effects such as /8


rain and snow to produce a one-of-a-kind performance (The Met, 2011). Despite these radical changes, there is a presentation format that has retained its popularity: the runway presentation, also known as the catwalk. The following elements are used to characterize a catwalk or runway fashion show in general: a biannual presentation of a new, never-before-seen clothing collection on moving bodies for a select audience (Skov et al., 2009: p. 2). A designer, brand or a company produces a new collection of complete clothing designs that are presented during the fashion show. Hired professional models walk in a predefined, set-designed space, usually accompanied by lights and music to showcase the designer’s newest collection. The ways of walking, posing, moving and looking are determined by a range of conventions. In examining the historical beginnings of the catwalk show, the first stage was the atelier of the designer instead of a shared space at a more public venue. As so-called retail meccas such as department stores developed, the fashion show was transformed into a large-scale entertainment event, losing the intimacy of the designer’s salon (Skov et al., 2009: p. 14). Besides the garments and the models that wear them, the music and atmosphere are also an important aspect of a fashion show because they emphasizes movement and create an aura of memorability. Special effects are also becoming more often used because of the buzz they can generate in digital channels after the show has been aired. Designer Michael Kors compares a runway show to a Broadway production in contemplating the role music plays in the performance (Doft, 2013). In fact, fashion pioneers have been using the catwalk as a way to invoke “the inherent theatricality of fashion as a performance art” (Lewis, 2012). Competition for the ability to show at the runway is a crucial element of adding rigor to a fashion week. Certain times of day, venues, and showing order can influence a designer’s public reception and the ability of celebrities /9


they invite to be seen at the show. The decision to invite celebrities to the show festivities is usually a question of funds as in some cases designers pay celebrities exorbitant sum to be seen by the press, although this trend is evolving to include other forms of nonmonetary remuneration in the form of gifts (Phelan, 2013). The desire of show attendees to be seated close to the runway is not only for the sake of being able to observe the movement of the garments more closely, but be seen “in the front row”. The broader public has historically not been invited to be a part of the live runway show, but the digitization of content and the broadening of Fashion Weeks to “Fashion Weekends” has helped to ameliorate the adherence to this trend in some cities (Avion, 2012). The professional catwalk itself demands a certain rigor, as the audience has expectations that have been cemented over the past decades. The expertise required to stage a successful show can be daunting for those that are new to the international runway: “From the practicalities – casting models, hair and makeup tests – to the professional touches, such as providing a drinks reception and being available for interviews after the show, the candidates must learn not only how to become a fashion designer and but also how to embody their brand” (Walker, 2012). Some brands keep away from the catwalk, but the reasons for doing so differ. Whistles, a luxury womenswear brand, made its London Fashion Week debut this year but opted for an intimate salon presentation “reflective of the brand’s ethos” instead of a traditional on-runway show. (Karmali, 2013). Cultural theory scholars Delhaye and Bergvelt posit that the textile object’s aesthetic qualities and spatial qualities are “suitable to theatrical media environments”, making the catwalk an ideal format for fashion presentation (2012: p. 467).

From the practicalities – casting models, hair and make-up tests –

to

professional

the

touches

[…], the candidates

must

not

learn

a

become

designer embody

only

how

to

fashion

but also how to

their

brand “”

/ 10


CONCLUSION

2

The catwalk being used as a presentation form will not disappear anytime soon. Although fashion presentation has historically taken additional forms such as static museum exhibitions and intimate salon settings, presenting on a professional runway is a milestone for both inexperienced as well as experienced designers.

WHAT’S BEEN WORLDWIDE INNOVATION

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DONE:

Fashion and art have constantly inspired, influenced and competed with each other. Collaborations between artists and fashion designers have occurred in the process of designing a collection and especially since the rise of fashion presentation as a show (Duggan, 2001). It has even been argued that designers who emphasize the design process over the final product should be entitled to Arts Council funding to present their collection as performance art on a catwalk (McRobbie, 1999). These shared inspirations between artists and fashion designers have transformed the traditional concept of the runway, which has ultimately led to the birth of the “fashion show” around 1990. American museum curator Ginger Gregg Duggan’s research reveals that the fashion/performance hybrid can be categorized in five main styles: spectacle, substance, science, structure and statement shows (2001, 245). What’s the state-of-the art in digital media currently used in fashion culture? In contrast to these shows, which are usually focused on stunning the fashion press with a big spectacle, some designers do maintain focus on the concept. For example, Dutch designers Viktor & Rolf are known for creating shows “akin to rituals”; in contrast to spectacle designers, their shows aren’t


designed as marketing tools (Duggan, 2001: p. 250). Rather than prioritize the details of individual garments, the designer duo presents their ideas and the inspiration behind the garments. According to Martin, Viktor & Rolf refuse to accept superficial fashion and offer products that endowed with narrative: with “consumption and delectation [enjoyment], concept and contemplation” (1999: p. 115). Naturally, if a designer organizes a private show at a pre-arranged venue during a dedicated Fashion Week, he has much more opportunity to transform the show to his liking while still gaining media coverage. This has led to a vast array of innovative catwalks that are characterized in the following series of short examples. A lot of the shows listed below had broad media and press attention. Mainly because of the newness of the technology they use. The question to answer is: does technology actually add something to the narrative by the catwalk, or conversely detract from the narrative?

UNCONVENTIONAL PRESENTATIONS

Figure 1

According to the creative brief, the French Connection/FCUK brand wanted to generate sales for their 2010 Autumn/Winter collection in a digitally innovative way as well as provide a platform to digitally showcase future collections. They created a fashion boutique on the brand’s YouTube channel, with a click-to-buy feature appearing after a presentation from a stylist on how to wear the look (Poke London, 2010). Technology has also worked its way into the garments themselves in a variety of ways. Iris van Herpen presented the world’s first publicly recognized 3D-printed garment at 2013 Paris Couture Lente (Koning, 2013) [fig. 1].

Figure 2

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Despite the innovation of the garment’s creation, it was presented in a traditional style with no additional media features. A strong example of a designer using a spectacle show is Alexander McQueen, at his 1999 show. At the finale, a model in a white dress on a rotating platform appears, and on both of her sides are robotic spray paint guns aggressively spraying yellow and black all over the model [fig. 2]. Even though these kind of shows sometimes raise ethical or monetary concerns, form a marketing point of view they are very successful (Duggan, 2001). These finales are designed to leave a strong vivid impression on the audience, highlighting the performance in the audience’s memory. Silvia Venturini and Karl Lagerfeld presented an elaborated version the spring 2008 Fendi collection on the Great Wall of China. This collection was actually was already presented three weeks earlier in Milan. This show, lighting up miles of the great wall and projecting the Fendi logo on surrounding mountains was estimated to cost US $10 million [fig. 3]. Naturally, such a show would not only attract the attention of the media but entertaining the general public.

Figure 3

SECOND SCREENS Alexander Wang hired a billboard in Times Square to broadcast a live feed of his New York Fashion Week show, going beyond the idea of a live stream only available on a designer’s website (Stephenson and Strugatz, 2010) [fig. 4]. Figure 4

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Google has partnered with Diane von Furstenberg to create a one-of-a-kind point-ofview (POV) footage from a model wearing Google Glasses during her fashion show at the New York Fashion Week in September 2012. These glasses are developed by the search engine company as a way to bring a digital experience to the physical one. Topshop and Google are furthered this type of partnership at London Fashion week this year by creating realtime footage from several perspectives at the show, including POV model cams, live feeds of guests arriving to the show being broadcast in Topshop stores, and Google+ Hangouts with designers during their time putting the finishing touches on the collection [fig. 5]. Chief Marketing Officer for Topshop Jason Cooke explains how fashion media extends beyond the runway experience: “We understand better than ever how people want to interact with content and the subtleties related to that interaction on different platforms at different moments” (Kansara, 2013). What’s more, such a campaign will allow for a massive amount of data collection, allowing the megabrand to make better retailing decisions by incorporating fan feedback. For a 2011 Trussardi menswear show in Milan, the designer took the collection off of the mainstage catwalk and instead rented the lobby of a hotel [fig. 6]. The audience could very easily see each other with their mobile devices in hand, which is relatively blatant compared to the dark catwalk stage where picture-snapping from the front row is more covert. Most notably, the runway itself has an uncharacteristic screen displaying short clips from F1 racing in the 1970s.

Figure 5

Figure 6

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SOCIAL MEDIA Amongst live Twitter updates from bloggers about styles and fabrics they see from the front row, to covert photographic content being distributed through Instagram to followers there’s no doubt that social media is having a major impact on the press activities surrounding fashion culture. “Just scan the front row at a fashion show and you'll see that coveted spots formerly reserved for magazine editors and celebrities are now also filled by fashion bloggers catering to legions of followers awaiting their every update” (Sifferlin, 2012). For his Fall 2012 Fashion Week show in New York, Marc Jacobs broadcast a live stream of his show on this website. The film feed of the integrated with social media feeds Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest so that home viewers on the designer’s website can see what’s being said about the looks real time [fig. 7]. The company BumeBox managed the integration and wrote algorithms to curate the posts. It has become de rigeur to provide “exclusive” content through Facebook pages, like Tommy Hilfiger did during the 2010 London Fashion Week. Such access can also give the brand’s managers data about what other pages those users are fans of, informing the design process. The ability of websites and their counterparts on mainstream social media channels to curate the content of the fashion show also empowers the users of this content to share their feedback on the garments, the show, as well as the story and message that the brand is trying to convey. The ability of brands to be able to ‘listen’ and aggregate feedback from customers and fans over an extended period of time not only informs season-toseason design decisions, but the overall direction of the brand in general. The most difficult thing for brands is to find an optimal balance between sharing the values behind the brand and exposing too much, undermining attempts at creating exclusivity (Grinberg, 2012).

Figure 7

Figure 8

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APPS DURING THE FASHION WEEK The 18th, latest edition of the Amsterdam Fashion week featured an application allowing users to livestream runway shows, as well as navigate between the Uptown, Downtown, and Business events. The application was made available for both iPhone and Android, including event schedules with a location-based in-app navigation system that uses the phone’s GPS [fig. 8]. The application also offered basic information about the designers that are participating in the Fashion Week. Finally, those who have downloaded the app have access to exclusive mobile video content when they connect their Facebook account to the application. Through this integration, the app offered users the opportunity to share their favorite content directly to their Wall.

DIGITAL PROJECTION TECHNIQUES In 2010, graduating students at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York City presented their designs in live stereoscopic 3D simulcast available to viewers by invitation only (Keane and Fein, 2010). However, the knowledge that the institute was taking a pioneering step was not widespread. In fact, the Burberry label was reported in the popular press as delivering the world’s first truly global fashion show, broadcast live in 3D to five countries reaching an audience of more than 100 million users. The feed did repeatedly black out for some users, indicating that Burberry did not anticipate the hardware requirements as well as they should have (Amed, 2010). But live

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from Beijing in April 2011, the “Hologram Runway Show” placed the audience in the middle of a large hall surrounded by screens. The ceiling was also used as a projection surface. Six human models were used in the show, but seamlessly integrated “holographic” models surrounded them [fig. 9]. Ralph Lauren spent over a million pounds sterling making a 3D digital projection for two of their flagship stores, which were coupled with a fourth sense by filling the audience space with the scent of their latest cologne [fig. 10]. Ralph Lauren’s senior vice president of advertising David Lauren states: “What we do as a brand is tell stories... what I call merchantainment, the seamless blending of merchandising and entertainment... it’s allowing us to fulfill our original intent: to tell stories and let you step into that world” (Business of Fashion, 2010). For the consumer, the “Old England” story of the brand is typically manifested in Ralph Lauren stores, as well as the commercial or promotional videos they create and distribute. While the “4D” mapping show was visually appealing, the public missed the narrative they normally experience through other channels: “Subtract the technology from the equation and you have spinning products and giant perfume bottles, but no lasting emotion or feeling” (Business of Fashion, 2010). In terms of continuing a narrative of the past, digital projection was used by Parisian designer Franck Sorbier to tell the French fairy tale from 1695 by Charles Perrault called Donkey Skin (Peau d’Ane) [fig. 11]. Although other pieces from the collection were still presented in the traditional way at the end of the show, the focus of the main portion of the show was retelling elements of a story using new media (Sweet, 2012).

Figure 9

Figure 10

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AUGMENTED REALITY In 2012, augmented reality expert Sander Veenhof developed an AR app on the Junaio platform for designer label Marga Weimans which functioned inside of a small lounge installation of 99 square meters after her show at the AFW. Show attendees could use tablets with a pre-installed AR app available at the installation to observe additional artwork related to the concept of the garment (AugmentNL, 2013) [fig. 12]. Vodafone sponsored a contest in Hungary for fashion designers to create images that would be used in an AR app. The agency ARWorks that was hired to develop the app used panoramic AR technology, which is apart from geo-location and image recognition AR because content appears independently of the user’s position. 2D images of models wearing designs of the collection appear on the users phone screen as they rotate throughout an ambient space, after scanning a QR code and downloading the Junaio free AR browser (Hutchings, 2012) [fig. 13].

Figure 11

LINKING E-COMMERCE TO THE RUNWAY As many designers are looking to increase the visibility of their collections beyond the runway, they create web properties to showcase static photos of the looks and of the individual garments. In some cases, these websites use ecommerce that enables customers to pre-order designs straight from the runway (Hirschmiller, 2011). At London Fashion Week 2010, Burberry has offered a ‘Runway Made to Order’ service where goods can literally be purchased right off the runway (Edwards-Brown, 2013) [fig. 14]. High street brands like Zara and H&M can quickly to get their looks from the catwalk to the retail racks because of the robustness of their logistics organizations, but smaller brands don’t have the supply chain to pull off that kind of turnaround time.

Figure 12

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CONCLUSION Fashion brands try to be quick adopters of new media technologies because of the buzz rewards they reap from the media. Such technologies can be useful tools to reveal the narrative behind a specific collection, but some brands attempt to construct the world of their brand using new media. While the “first-tomarket” generally get the most attention of the press, the possibilities these new technologies have to offer are not fully utilized. Based on this digital ethnography, it appears that the focus is on using a new technology for the first time rather than using the technology to transmit the narrative of the brand. While this early adoption gives a designer’s brand a reputation of being innovative and ahead of its time, the narrative of the collection’s inspiration gets lost in the process of translation. Big fashion brands have in fact developed into entertainment companies, trying to stun and impress the press to get attention with new media spectacles. For the educational institute AMFI, following the trend of the big companies in trying to entertain the fashion industry as a means to brand awareness and a reputation for spectacle shows will not help to revive the narrative of iNDiViDUALS.

Figure 13

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3

INDIVIDUALS BRAND AND PHILOSOPHY In order to answer the main research question, the brand iNDiViDUALS needs to be clarified and discussed and the brand’s main needs need to be discovered. More importantly, it is necessary to consider to what extent the narrative and the philosophy of the brand are embedded in the fashion shows of the brand. The question that helps to find this conclusion is: what is the philosophy of the brand iNDiViDUALS and how has this philosophy been expressed? To understand how the iNDiViDUALS story fits in with or is apart from the generalized narrative of fashion culture requires further examination. A structural understanding of the program as well as knowledge of the deeper philosophy that drives the students of the program will lead to a more effective concepting phase and likely increased buy-in of the students who will end up using the platform developed by the MediaLAB Amsterdam. The AMFI educates young students that have the ambition to develop their creative, technical, communicative and commercial skills. The goal of such an intensive education is to offer the students a foundation to grow into a leadership role within the international fashion industry. 100 teachers educate approximately 1100 students. Most of the teachers combine educating duty with a job in the fashion industry. Director Souraya Bouwmans-Sarraf describes the minor program iNDiViDUALS: “We offer the students reality-school education with a focus on technology, craftsmanship as well as conceptual and analytical thinking. All of this has been made possible in a creative, fashionable and sustainable environment. With reference to the last point, sustainability, we have provided tools, insight and guidelines to help the students look at our world in a more

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responsible way” (Graduation AMFI magazine, 2012).

INDIVIDUALS: A BRAND OR A PROGRAM? The minor program offered by the Amsterdam Fashion Institute organizes a generation of students twice yearly, and the iNDiViDUALS brand is special in particular because it’s created by students as part of a “reality school” program. The specialized program began in 2006 and since then the minor program and the brand has been making a more broad impact on fashion culture in the Netherlands specifically. This method of fashion education is unique in the world because it’s a design-driven brand focused on giving students an outlet for their creations; it includes the other relevant parts of the fashion design process, namely branding and management. This system of design, branding and management working in parallel to produce the deliverables for each phase of the project is not standard; it differs from the professional fashion industry where these different disciplines usually work very separately. For example, all of the students travel to Première Vision in Paris - a trade fair for fabrics - to get inspiration for the collection they will design as a team. The collection of garments produced by the students has historically been presented at the main runway of Amsterdam Fashion Week with financial sponsorship from Vodafone. After the collection has been presented, it can take up to six weeks until the students are able to complete commercial production of goods and distribute them to select retail locations in the Netherlands. The current generation of students usually handles the production logistics of the former generation’s retail requirements. The students also work together to produce a printed look book that showcases the fabric choices as well as still photographs of the complete garments. Each look book also explains a small portion of the theme that / 21


The

narrative

of the

PHILOSOPHY

iNDiViDUALS brand evolves

each generation of students that take up the responsibility of continuing with

the collection. The continuing

narrative

minds the

is based on

and

drove the creation and presentation of the current generation.

the

thoughts of

students themselves.

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What becomes immediately clear speaking informally with those who have different roles in the production of iNDiViDUALS is that the philosophy of the brand has a variety of key points, some of which are conflicting. First, the philosophy behind the designs is focused on education in that the students are challenged to produce unique designs. Secondly, sustainability is becoming more of a focus; the students are reminded to be conscientious of their impact on people, processes, and the environment. Furthermore, the philosophy of the brand as a whole is distinctive because each member of the generation makes a personal input that can be traced in the final outcome. Also, there is tension between creating ready-to-wear pieces and one-of-akind statement pieces, as the students aren’t sincerely focused on creating designs that will sell commercially. Thus, the focus of the iNDiViDUALS brand has not to be on attracting consumers, but on the magnitude of what a student has achieved and the personal message that he or she wants to convey to the world. Much in the same way that professional fashion houses select well-known designers from other brands or a private label to lead their creative direction, the direction of a brand and the story behind its presentation can evolve rapidly. The comparison is applicable in that each generation of iNDiViDUALS has a different creative impulse to suffice, or a different story to tell. The marketing literature created by the students about a student experience is that each generation’s theme is centered on the communal Zeitgeist (individualsatamfi.nl, 2013). Thus, the narrative of the iNDiViDUALS brand evolves with each generation of students that take up the responsibility of continuing the collection. The continuing narrative is based on the minds and thoughts of the students themselves, yet this


somehow eventually translates into an overall theme or cohesive story for each generation. Charlotte Lokin, branding manager for iNDiViDUALS, explained that the first lesson starts with building a mood board. Charlotte states that students really open up, and mostly they become visibly emotional. The very next step is to task the students with finding a way to make a common connection between each of their personal messages (Personal interview, 2013). The fourteenth and latest generation’s look book states: “Elements: a desire for progress due to the uncertainty of what the future will bring them. Their only means to survive and establish their position in the world is through evolution”. The students title themselves: “neo-pioneers…Element is their key to survival” (iNDiViDUALS Element, 2013).

CONCLUSION The research shows that the typical output of an iNDiViDUALS generation to convey a narrative is a printed look book; a website with original content from the fashion show obtained through facilitating partners, merchandising design for the By Amfi Spui store, features in other student publications, and appropriated coverage from popular media, as well as a spot in the catwalk lineup at the twice-yearly Amsterdam Fashion Week made possible in part by corporate sponsors. As the collections are organized into generations, mimicking the biannual Amsterdam Fashion Week schedule by presenting a spring/summer and a fall/winter collection, the different generations have the power to decide what message they want to convey and in what ways. Because there are new generations every semester that design and present a collection, the red thread of the students individual messages throughout the collections is an important aspect and unique characteristic of the brand. The option for the brand iNDiViDUALS to present their new collection on the AFW brings extra opportunities for the students to present their own story. Moreover, the students that work on

Photo by iNDiViDUALS / 23


the iNDiViDUALS brand have a larger opportunity than other fashion brands to really concentrate on their statement and bring out their message through their fashion show. However, when examining their past fashion shows, the opportunity to insert the narrative of the brand within the fashion show has not yet been recognized by any generation of iNDiViDUALS. Rather than utilizing the catwalk at Amsterdam Fashion Week to convey the narrative of their latest collection, the students use printed look books and coverage from the popular media. The philosophy of the brand is unique because each student uses his feelings and emotions to create a narrative. Rather than having to produce pieces that appeal to a wide commercial audience that are judged based on their sales volume, the students of iNDiViDUALS focus on producing one-of-a-kind designs that express and reflect their personal stories.

Photo by iNDiViDUALS / 24


4

TARGET GROUPS

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The following assumptions of the variety of users of the iNDiViDUALS brand have been assembled from a short observation period. Although these “skeleton personas” will be used more extensively during the and during the concepting and prototyping phases, it is useful to demonstrate the the initial inferences about the user’s experience goals and standards/attitudes so that they can be confirmed or denied by further research.

STUDENTS Within the iNDiViDUALS program, third- and fourth-year students’ experience goals are to have a chance to organize, run, and debrief from a successful professional exhibition. After working for twenty weeks to develop the garments from scratch, the students assign a great degree of value to the recognition they receive from their peers [fig. 15]. The students’ personal standards for success may differ widely based on their individual knowledge and former experiences. The value the student places on her role affects the quality of her work during the show as well as her willingness to participate. Their attitudes about new media are generally positive in terms of being active users who are willing to try new things, but this may differ widely when combining the idea of integrating new media with a catwalk show.


TEACHERS Out of all the hundred teachers who instruct the students of the AMFI, only a select few direct the students of the iNDiViDUALS program [fig. 16]. The standards of the teachers for the presentations of the students will likely be based on the quality of work they’ve seen from past generations of students. Their attitudes about the presentation itself are hopefully to be recognized by other fashion educators for their work within the program.

Figure 15

CELEBRITIES These can be famous Dutch or international celebrities who are invited to attend the show by the managers of the brand itself, or those who earn a form of social gain by making an appearance [fig. 17]. In most cases, these celebrities generally famous for things other than their involvement with fashion. Their main experience goal of engaging with the iNDiViDUALS brand at their AFW show is to be seen by others attending the show. Standards that dictate their expectations at the fashion show are to receive special treatment, get paid, or recognized by the press for their personal style. Attitudes about attending the show itself include the opportunity to meet others that can help them further their professional careers. The broader public is likely to follow the fashion activities of these users more than those of the designers.

Figure 16

PRESS AND BLOGGERS The press and the blogger’s interpretation of the designer’s fashion

Figure 17

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are wholly based on his or her experience of the fashion show [fig. 18]. Depending on the characteristics of the audience that these users are trying to reach, they may appropriate details or photographs of specific styles, fabrics or documents in the summaries, posts and news stories they create. These assumptions distinguish between press being professional writers who engage with fashion on behalf of a commercial publication, and bloggers who engage with fashion as a hobby. Depending on their notoriety, either type of these users may also be compensated to attend fashion shows. Their main experience goals are to produce as much content for their web properties as possible.

RETAILERS Retailers are the link between the team at AMFI and the end customer, acting as a creator of a point-of-sale for the garments themselves [fig. 19]. This research estimates that the attendance of these users at the live show of iNDiViDUALS is limited, considering the collection is not focused on generating commercial sales. However, there is the potential that new retailers who are interested in working with the brand might attempt to purchase a ticket or get invited to the live show. For fashion shows in general its possible that retailers are professionally obligated to attend lest they miss out on an upcoming trend or a chance to make a deal with a designer.

Figure 18

OTHER DESIGNERS AND FASHION HOUSES Beyond the designers who work specifically for the iNDiViDUALS brand, there are usually others in the audience who work directly with major label fashion brands and smaller, up-andcoming labels. These users may attend the show for inspiration of their own, or perhaps merely as a measuring point of their own handiwork. These users are generally the most conscious and critical of the presentation style, special effects and media elements, as well as the design details of the garments themselves.

Figure 19

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However, its rare that one fashion house will speak out publicly against another unless in the case of plagiarism or some other form of infringement. The experience goals of attending an iNDiViDUALS show would be to source up-and-coming student talent for an internship project or a potential employment opportunity. Standards for the experience are derived from the designer’s experience.

BROADER PUBLIC

5

Although it’s rare that these users get to interact with the live show of the designer, technological applications such as live streaming, brand pre- and post- show visual content, as well as user created content on third-party services such as Pinterest and Instagram are bringing the experience closer. Their interactions with the ideals of fashion design through these formats perpetuate not only their admiration of fashion culture, but provide a foil to those who embody the more elite ideals. Their experience goals are to be able to share their interests with friends and other fashion admirers, and their life goals are to be appreciated by others for their sense of style and attention to current style.

INVOKE NARRATIVE IN A FASHION SHOW AT AFW

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As already mentioned in this report, the catwalk format of the fashion show is the most commonly used and subsequently the most impactful way of presenting the results of the fashion design process. For the designer but also for his audience - buyers, individual clients, retailers, fashion critics or fellow designers, the catwalk offers the opportunity to introduce a designer’s newest concepts and to introduce new trends in clothing. These runway shows have grown since the early 1920s into spectacular happenings and nowadays are globally celebrated as big events, cementing


the catwalk as the predominant way of presenting the concerned fashion concepts. Where lie possibilities to invoke narrative in such a fashion show, in particular at the Amsterdam Fashion Week? To reiterate briefly the concept of the catwalk: also known as the runway, is a traditionally straight aisle where models ‘run’ up and down dressed in the newly designed creations of a fashion label and/or a single fashion designer. The set design of the catwalk is similar to a stage; it’s placed in front of the audience who sit alongside the catwalk lane. In this very common format, the audience of the show is seated on a lower level than the models walking by. At the end of the catwalk there is a special section for photographers, allowing them to photograph and film the models that typically stop and pose at the end of the catwalk before they turn and continue their walk back down the aisle and eventually disappear when they go off stage through the coulisses. As stated in the first sub section of this report, this concept of the catwalk and the fashion show in general hasn’t changed fundamentally since its origins in the early decades of the 20th century. Furthermore, the second sub section in the report makes it clear that although fashion shows have taken different forms lately, evidenced by the experimentation with the catwalk in the past years, the concept of the catwalk, however, has stayed the same ever since. This concept not only remained its original shape through time, but also through location. This research concludes that in every country or city where fashion shows are being held, the same concept of the catwalk recurs. Also, every fashion show seems to be accompanied by the same rituals and habits. Like Skov et al. state, the fashion show can be seen as a cultural form with its own set of aesthetic conventions which have developed during the course of the 20th century (2009). It’s this specific set of conventions that makes the fashion shows all very alike and therefore a

Photo by AFW / 29


Not

every

generalization can be made about fashion shows in terms of their basic concepts. Thus, when a fashion show or a catwalk is mentioned, it means a fashion show or catwalk ‘in general’.

audience,

join in the excitement of attending however,

a

can

CLOSED CHARACTER To reveal the possibilities to invoke the narrative, some characteristics of a fashion show are examined. These characteristics can be seen as a difficulty or problem that result from a fashion show, but sometimes these also are beneficial outcomes. The first characteristic is the fashion week as a closed community: “The clothing business is arguably one of the biggest and most geographically dispersed industries, operating across vast distances” (Dickerson, 2003: p. 5). “But for a few days twice a year, fashion fairs bring together in one place people who are engaged in the production of fashion from a wide range of professions from many different countries” (Skov, 2006: p. 764). Both Dickerson and Skov demonstrate that fashion shows are part of a larger global industry. According to Evans, these shows have always been a highly social gathering: “Then, as now, fashion shows were social events, generating the same excitement as the opening of a new play” (2001: p. 305). Not every audience, however, can join in the excitement of attending a fashion show. Most tickets to a show are on invitation only and often celebrities are even being paid by the designer to attend his or her show. This causes a rather closed character for the fashion show: “the fashion show is set apart from wider society.” (Skov et al., 2009: p. 5). Skov et al. also state that therefore the fashion industry is a community, raising the question of who can enter this community and who will be rejected: “It brings to the fore questions of membership of that community (in who is let in and who turned away by a show’s gatekeepers), manages the interpersonal relationships of participants (both in audience seating arrangements and in back stage practices), and regulates their overall behaviour” (Skov et al., 2009: p. 20). Taking

fashion show.

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from Skov et. al that this closed community controls its internal overall behavior, it can be assumed that this community is also responsible for fading out the narrative of fashion culture in the fashion shows. Similar to Skov et al., Moeran and Pedersen also acknowledge that fashion shows “bring together a large and diverse number of participants who are closely involved in the production and distribution of the products and services being exhibited – industry manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers, and retailers” (2009). Thus the fashion community is captured in a broader context. In fact they state: “end-users tend to be marginal” (Moeran and Pedersen, 2009: p. 3). Therefore the end user, the customer, doesn’t have much of an impact in the fashion industry. Thus, it might be that this closed community is responsible for the absence of the narrative of fashion industry, or either way that this community maintains the absence of a narrative. Not only are the fashion shows closed from the outside world because of the selectively chosen audience, but also because the fashion shows are literally closed from the outside world (Skov et al., 2009). The shows are often held at special venues that make the festivities inaccessible for outsiders, like the shows held in genteel musea or palaces. Shows in more neutral venues, like warehouses or factories, then again can be hard to reach within on a more practical level, as in terms of transport. These spatial boundaries stress the exclusive happenings that they shelter: “Such settings are often set apart from their surroundings, thereby reflecting the liminal nature of the events that they house” (Moeran and Pedersen, 2009: p. 3). This spatial boundary is also emphasized by Skov et al.: “In this respect, the location has a supporting function enhancing the concept of the show” (2009: p. 7). These locations are chosen to enrich the atmosphere of the show itself, maintaining the spectacle that has been built around the fashion show and therefore keep it intimidating for the public audience. / 31


Despite from their special boundaries, a fashion show also characterized by a temporal boundary: “they are temporarily bounded in terms of both duration and regularity” (Moeran and Pedersen, 2009: p. 3). A fashion show nowadays doesn’t last longer than 15 to 30 minutes (Drake et al.,1992) and only takes place twice a year. This makes the fashion show rather ephemeral (Skov et al., 2009). Nowadays, usage of recorded fashion shows, like videos on websites or live streaming is increasing, but these recordings don’t capture the vibrant energy that is experienced at the live show. In order to bring some fresh ideas about the philosophy of fashion and with that, perhaps, revive the narrative of fashion culture, the closed character of a fashion show has to be changed. By breaking its socially, temporally and spatially bounded nature – making the end user or outsider a social tie within the ‘community’, better the accessibility of the locations and lengthen the moment of the (live) show – the fashion show can be better reached by a broader public. This might be a starting point for using digital technologies in order to reintroduce the narrative of fashion culture in the fashion industry again.

TENSION BETWEEN SPECTATOR AND PERFORMER At the site of the catwalk show it’s noticeable that there is a clear division between the audience and the people who are with the show in service of the designer. “Instead of a crowd in which each individual is both an observer and observed, the fashion show separates performers from spectators by aid of the catwalk” (Skov et al., 2009: p. 5). It’s this division that creates an ambiguity between the two groups: the designer wants to impress his audience with his designs, his show, his story, but it’s a challenge to allow this impression come across. Conversely, the audience has expectations and presumptions about these / 32


impressions of the designer and their experience in general. The designer must consider these habits of his audience, because in the end it is this chosen audience determines if the show is a success or a failure (Skov et al., 2009). Therefore he attempts to script the audience’s behavior, and in this way appropriates spectacle performances in the communication of his narrative. To illustrate, Dutch cultural anthropologists Delhaye and Bergvelt conducted a study of fashion presentations in the Netherlands and concluded that the prevalence of visual spectacle, participation and sensory stimulation in such presentations is a reflection of the requirements of the audience rather than a brainchild of the presenters themselves (2012). This points out that there is a tension between the performer and spectator, which deserves further investigation during the concepting phase.

CONTEXT OF AMSTERDAM WEEK

FASHION

Because the collection of iNDiViDUALS is only shown in a fashion show at the Amsterdam Fashion Week, we now will briefly set out the context of the Amsterdam Fashion Week relevant to our research. Amsterdam Fashion Week, or shortly AFW, is offering the students of individuals a stage for showing their work every fashion season, being one show at the Fashion Week in January and one in July. Compared to other fashion weeks in the world, Amsterdam Fashion week is an event of smaller scope. According to Mashable.com, the most prominent fashion weeks are held in London, New York City, Paris and Milan. Compared in numbers, the biggest fashion week, New York City, drew 116,000 visitors with 300 fashion shows in January 2012 (The Guardian), while at the Amsterdam Fashion Week 20,000 people attended for 20 shows in January 2012 (Volkskrant). Although

Photo by Peter Stigter

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The Amsterdam Fashion Week

showcases

collections of have

been

Dutch

the AFW won’t meet the impact a fashion week like one in New York City has, the local fashion industry and also economy finds itself strengthened by the biannually event (Amsterdamfashionweek.com, Jaensch et al., 2007). The AFW has multiple programs. To show at the main catwalk program, Uptown, meant for “the fashion professional and their relations” (Amsterdamfashionweek.com) the designer has to pay a fee of €15,000. Next to that, he also must afford the material costs of the collection as well as the production team for staging and lighting, his models, and any special takeaways he wants his guests to take home from the show. All in, this can cost designers up to €100,000. AFW has several corporate partners, large Dutch organizations like Kamer van Koophandel and ABN AMRO as well as smaller not-for-profits like MADE-BY who collaborate to produce business events as well as host reception parties and offer specialized services. It is often the case that these sponsors make it possible for small-time designers to showcase their work on the main stage. This brings us to the aspect with which the AFW separates itself from other fashion weeks: is has a big heart for young talent. The AFW is in particular a niche stage for new Dutch talent to present their designs. The Fashion Week showcases the latest collections of designers that have been involved in the Dutch fashion industry for many years, but also debuts the creations of upcoming talents and fashion students. The Amsterdam Fashion Week is explicitly experimental in case of these young designers: next to the main program it has many programs that function as a platform for these young designers to both enhance their presentation skills and grow the size of their professional network. These projects are: Uptown: The official mainstage of the catwalk show, the program of designers draws the attention of national and international press and buyers. Members of the press who have tickets to shows are able see young talent and

the latest

designers that involved

in

the

fashion industry

for many years, but also debuts the creations of

upcoming

talents and fashion students

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established designers on the same catwalk. The show is held in the Gashouder and is sponsored officially by Vodafone. AFW FashionLab: A place for justbeginning designers to acquire visibility among the press that’s not as high-pressure as the formal catwalk because of the limited notoriety of the participating brands. The show itself reflects designer ‘duos’ that create a collection especially for this stage in the Transformatorhuis. The network of industry professionals who attend the show creates an environment where designers can continue to develop as independent entrepreneurs. Young Professionals: A sponsorship group that makes it possible for an up-andcoming designer to have his or her first standalone show in the Transformatorhuis. The idea of the sponsorship is to help the beginner transition from designer to entrepreneur and gain notoriety among a live international media audience. Lichting: A special audience is organized for the designers who are showing, made up of influentials who can help the recent fashion school graduates take the next step into professionalism. Chosen by the senior lecturers of the Netherlands’ seven best fashion academies, two graduates are chosen to show a collection made part in possible by a sponsorship from G-Star Raw. Besides the runway programs, the Amsterdam Fashion Week also has a program outside of the festival venue, namely Downtown: For those who don’t have access to the catwalks, the Downtown program turns Fashion Week into a Fashion Weekend, with the shops local to the Westergasfabriek offering special packages and discounts. Downloading the AFW App gives a map and event schedule for the Downtown area, but also allows the user to access content from the Uptown portion. This notable accessibility and supporting character of the AFW has the positive effect that not only the well known, established Dutch designers are showing their collections every half year, but also young and inexperienced / 35


upcoming designers are offered a stage. This gives the AFW a fresh look at the fashion industry; starting creatives, like the students from iNDiViDUALS, with new ideas are in this case a welcome variation in order to provide the fashion industry to get dusted.

CONCLUSION Possibilities to invoke a narrative in a fashion show can be found by first posing the issues inherent to fashion culture. Besides the great spectacle that is made of the fashion shows, aiming at the media attention, loud music and the visual overall picture by theatrical settings, big performances and exorbitant scene decoration; the closed world a fashion show nowadays creates can be concerning in case of the fading narrative in fashion culture. Also, the accompanying attitude that is assigned to a fashion show due to this spectacle and closed character isn’t making this narrative more vivid. Like Skov says: “The attention of the invited audience is directed away from the outside world and made to focus entirely on the ephemeral setting that frames the fashion show performance.” (Skov et al., 2009: p. 7). In spite of the loss of a, a fashion show involving new media appears is a milestone the most important way to present new fashion collections. “Nothing can bring apparel to life like a fashion show” (Drake, Soone, and Greenwald, 1992: p. 295). It gives both the designer as the audience as performer and spectator, the most optimal opportunity to introduce and show or respectively view and criticize the clothes. A catwalk show can draw crowds of fashion and creative industries and economy in general – the fashion show enhances social ties and therefore generates more value for the creative product shown at the fashion show. It’s most probably because of this that the fashion show still knows its original form and concept, originated from the early decades in the 20th century, and that therefore the fashion show in itself cannot and will not change very easily. It obviously proved its / 36


6

winning concept in terms of surplus value for social relations inside the fashion world and eventually resulting in an economic surplus value for the whole fashion industry. But in this the original narrative of fashion culture doesn’t seem to be captured. Considering this, the fashion show can be seen as a negative aspect of fashion presentation, but because of its big attention-drawing character and exposure facilities, the fashion show therefore also is most likely the best place to introduce this narrative again. Taking its problems, say the over-the-top spectacle and closed character, some strong focus points become visible where the best possibilities may lie in order to invoke the narrative of fashion culture in a fashion show.

COMPREHENSIVE CONCLUSION

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After a rapid assembly of this body of work, the conclusion is that conveying the narrative of fashion culture through digital output that is meaningful for the brand of iNDiViDUALS requires not only an innovative approach to the catwalk design, but a fresh look at the way digital technology influences the development of the collection itself. The concept of the catwalk being used as a presentation form will not disappear anytime soon, not only for it being a strong way to present new collections, but also for being suitable to implement spectacle, whether or not by digital techniques, and for being a place where social ties within the fashion industry can grow stronger. Therefore, presenting on a professional runway is a milestone for both inexperienced as well as experienced designers. However, spectacle at the fashion show created by using new media technologies such as 3D projection or augmented reality simply for new media’s sake can have unintentional effects of overshadowing the narrative behind the


The research suggests

garments. Despite the fact that digitization of fashion content has led to an explosion of interaction potential, there are observable gaps in the story that links the thought processes of the designers to the display of their garments on the runway. The influx of technology in general has changed the way that the broader public can interact with fashion, as well as the way that fashion design students experiment with new ideas and keep up with future developments. Big fashion brands compete and try to be the first to bring new developments in new media technologies to the fashion industry. While this pioneering generates wide press coverage, the focus is on the newness of the technologies rather than enhancing the brand’s narrative through this new development. The research suggests that iNDiViDUALS should pursue a different strategy, one of utilizing digital media technologies to its full extent. The iNDiViDUALS brand has a unique position from which to make a statement on fashion culture. Each student within has the opportunity to implement his or her own narrative in the collection. The idea of education and sustainability is a core part of the iNDiViDUALS philosophy. As opposed to producing designs with mass commercial appeal, designers have the unique entrepreneurial ability to focus on making their statement and continuing to craft a personal narrative through the use of new media. The possible focus points to invoke narrative probably lie at the fashion show site. The research shows that the closed character of the fashion show at the Amsterdam Fashion Week, in terms of community, time and location, makes the brand rather daunting for outsiders. Furthermore, there is a tension noticeable between the spectator, the fashion show audience, and the performer, the designer, that could be worth looking at in the concepting phase. Finally, the support that the Amsterdam Fashion Show facilitates for starting designers is beneficial for bringing new ideas about fashion and design, something that could be valuable.

that iNDiViDUALS should pursue a

different strategy, one

digital media technologies to its full extent. of utilizing

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This research document has served to give both the industry insider and the curious outsider a fresh look at the way new media influences the presentation of fashion collections, in the least to be able to make informed decisions about impacting the status quo. The main takeaway for the team from the research phase is that in order to revive the narrative of fashion culture, the tension between staying inside the confines traditional rules and invigorating the narrative of the iNDiViDUALS fashion concept must be broken.

MORE INFO: WWW.MEDIALAB.HVA.NL/INDIVIDUALS

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