Saturday, 3 September 2011

Dr Hazel Clark 'From National Dress to Transnational Brand'

Dr Hazel Clark, of New York's Parsons New School for Design, hit the ground Thursday yesterday afternoon with the first lecture of the Trans/National Clothing Conference entitled ‘From National Dress to Transnational Brand’ giving a teaser of what we could expect from the following days.

In the context of this highly academic lecture I will only attempt to translate my hastily scribbled notes- a meagre effort in comparison to the font of knowledge that was Clark herself on the day. Starting us off were 5 key themes we would discuss:

1.     The relationship between fashion as a system and clothing as material objects.

2.     The complexity of the production and consumption of fashion- it’s contemporary ‘pluralism and polycentrism’.

3.     The dependency of clothing and fashion on a circulatory system- on the movement of materials and goods and on mediated messages and flows of culture.

4.     The changing role of clothing- first, for example, through ‘national dress’ and now of fashion as brand- in the construction and promotion of identities, personal, local, national and transnational.

5.     The politics of clothing production and fashion consumption, for example, our moral obligation to consider ethical use of clothing.

Clark was arguing that the new global contexts have formed a new global geography- even perhaps signalling the paradox of the end of geography itself- a characteristic of The Brand (The Brand as a sign that is working through the production of its own ‘difference’ and using its distinctions as values against other Brands). She noted that of particular influence have been sociologist Zygmunt Bauman and Arjun Appadurai’s theories on globalisation being about flows i.e. the flow of fashion, raw materials and commerce- an idea further demonstrated in Pietra Rivolli’s ‘Travellors of a T-shirt’ (see earlier post).

Additionally, what is key today is that the deterritorialisation of the modern world is creating new markets i.e. film and travel agencies whilst also proving we still need some contact with what we regard as home to give us a sense of place…..

As a final note I leave you with a quote to mull over before logging off…..

“International fashion, is not just a matter of Global markets and cross-national style cannibalism but is increasingly a matter of systematic transnational assemblages of production, taste transfer, pricing and exhibitions.”
Arjun Appadurai, Modernity at Large: cultural dimensions of globalisation, 1996: 167

Watch this space for more posts on references from Dr Hazel Clark's lecture- including Alexander McQueen! 

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