Fashioning New Worlds: Weaving Alternate Futures through Fashion Technology and Black Ingenuity, Payton Croskey, UG '23 (2276153)
Plant-based fabric for waste-free living, digital fashion for a virtual existence and 3D-printed gills for a submerged aquatic society are all futures proposed by today’s fashion-tech designers. A sneak peek of a world soon to come, these stylish innovations are rich with the hopes and dreams of their creators. All the while, troubling notions of inequality, power and modernity lie at the center of these fantasies. But is this the only way? In this paper, I adopt a Black studies lens to reckon with fashion’s material, social and cultural dimensions— and what it all reveals about our pending future. By analyzing speculative fashion proposals and Black cultural approaches to clothing design and textiles, I highlight fashion’s impact on social realities while questioning the values and practices shaping these creations. I then uncover imaginative, sustainable futures— including those embedded in my own fashion-tech proposals. Finally, taking note of the material confines of laboring within an elite, Western institution, I share my experience subverting standards of hyper-individuality as I fashion the liberatory future of my dreams. Essentially, the designs we draft today form the reality we live tomorrow. And constructing a world where creativity blooms and communities thrive requires weaving together intergenerational ingenuity as we dream of our revolutionary futures.