Incredibly global and remarkably central, Paris and London are one of the most fast paced cities around the world. With a culture whose infatuation with speed and acceleration is increasingly growing. The continuous progression and expansion of this fast paced lifestyle has triggered a return to a slower and more leisurely manner of living. Leading to the development of what is known as ‘Slow Fashion’, as coined by design activist Kate Fletcher. The beginnings of Slow Fashion was influenced by the Slow Food movement in 1989 by Carlo Petrini, an Italian food and wine journalist. In reaction to the fast food module, it aimed to regain the pleasures of cooking and eating by cultivation of its experience. In fashion this concept of slowing down “intervenes as a revolutionary process in the contemporary world because it encourages taking time to ensure quality production, to give value to the product, and contemplate the connection with the environment” (Dickson,Cataldi & Grover 2011).
Shaping the fast fashion market, mass production fuelled by urbanisation, rapid globalisation and vast advancements in technology has contributed to a “roadrunner culture” (Honoré 2005). Creating a sense of uniformity and standardisation across retail chains and department stores around Europe. Retail giants such as H&M and Zara found in nearly every corner of major shopping districts are turning over extremely large amounts of clothing to consumers at a rapid speed. With over 2,000 stores worldwide wide their influence is undeniably prominent. Whilst interviewing Monica from the Glassworks store she mentioned “fast fashion is taking over because it is quick, affordable and easily accessible” they are able to buy a look rather than hunt for individual pieces to form an outfit. Claudue spotted on the streets of London features a hybrid of high fashion brands (Image 1). In conversation with her we found out that her turtle neck jumper is infact from H&M. Style has become a by product of the commercial market and as a result people are looking for clothing that is more unique, individual and characteristic of their own.
As a result of this, an eclectic style trend has been identified with pairings of vintage pieces to create an expressive look. “Many enjoy the special feeling of discovery that goes hand-in-hand with buying vintage. Others see vintage as an opportunity to make a statement against the artificiality of modern consumerism. They crave the authenticity that comes with owning an item from the past”. (Tay 2012) Spotted at the Camden Market Didi said, ‘ I don’t really follow what other people are wearing, I just put on what I feel like’ (Image 3). She pairs her floral shirt and deep red ruffle skirt with metal chains across her waist. The garments in her outfit have a culmination of history and character sourced from Op Shops and vintage markets.
This eclectic style of fashion is further seen in the area of Shoreditch East London. From trendy coffee shops to the displays of eclectic vintage stores, Shoreditch has become a major hotspot for the Gen-Y sphere. Characterised by colourful street art and filled with an ambience of live music by soul-searching Millennials, this is a scene with an overflow of self-expression, eccentricity and an individualistic nature. Take Canvas Café located in alley off Brick Lane, where visitors are encouraged to write and draw on the walls (Image 6). This collaborative space invites café goers to contribute to an ever-evolving creation of art. Individualism is celebrated and corresponding to this creative culture is a thriving style of eclectic fashion where varied garments are layered and combined in a diverse manner. We stumbled across Lottie wearing an oversized distressed vintage denim jacket (Image 9). In conversation with her, we discovered her trousers were also a vintage buy. She mentioned that while they were too long for her when she tried them on, she loved the check print and decided to still purchase them and wear them rolled up.
The adaptation of second hand garments and repurposing of them to create a second life was commonly seen in both London and Paris. While a predominant part of the population in Paris dressed quite simply, for functional purposes in the colder climate. We came across Cho who exemplifies an eclectic style (Image 11). In her outfit there is a contrast of textures that are frequently seen together, from the furry surface of her hat to the distressed woollen knit and the dense corduroy trousers.
In contrast to Melbourne it was observed that London, specifically the Shoreditch area has a stronger creative community. This culture has allowed a greater expression of individuality and eccentricity that has enabled the flourishment of vintage stores and unique creative markets. The Shoreditch area houses an array of markets and street food stalls in which can be found at nearly every corner, forming a creative culture that is widely celebrated. While it is recognised that Melbourne has an establishing creative community, it is not as wide spread and developed as East London which has influenced the thriving eclectic fashion style.
The eclectic nature resembled in clothing reflects the collaborative nature of mixing Op Shop finds with high fashion brands which is not only reflected in clothing but also visual merchandising. As stores now rely not on the product offering but on additional services that are provided to enhance the quality of the customer’s overall experience. Creating a collaborative multifunctional environment such as the Topshop Oxford Street flagship store which houses not only apparel but beauty services alike a brow bar and barber. The in store experience of providing a unique creation for the customer is also identified in “The Fragrance Lab” by The Future Laboratory for Selfridges. Enticing them to embark on a journey of self-discovery to produce a signature scent tailored to one’s behaviour, personality and mindset through a sensory journey. In turn slowing down the process and creating a memorable uniquely tailored experience for the customer.
Revival of handcraft
The Slow Fashion movement has sparked the revival of handcraft, which has been identified as an emerging trend on the streets of London and Paris. With pieces housing intricate detailing alike the hand crocheted shawl incorporating geometric leather pieces in this juxtaposition of the old and new (Image 12). The rediscovery of handcraft has been reflected in East London’s urban landscape of Shoreditch. Oozing with eccentricity, expressionism and markets the bustling lane enforces its urban edge with graffiti and street art. Amongst the artistic displays of expressionism, an artwork on Brick Lane was spotted. The digital photograph has been embellished and adorned with woollen yarn adding depth and a textural third dimension (Image 13). The process of this layering is something to be noted as the artist is expressing that in a world revolving around the digital age there is a loss of touch and texture. In response to this, hand detailing has been incorporated onto an image that has been digitally altered.
The iconic visual merchandising displays of Selfridges in London’s Oxford Street gives a nod to this revival (Image 14 & 15). Housing a new breed of fashion designers in their “Bright New Things” display showcasing innovative and beautiful garments produced in clean transparent ways. Katie Jones a graduate from Central Saint Martins Tex-Mex collection features the finest hand crochet work integrating this labour intensive craft into a contemporary space. Piecing together panels with up cycled denim and leather that has been meticulously hand punched then joined using crochet technique. Repurposing second hand garments with a handcraft technique to compose a contemporary outcome. Katie stated “I’m in my element and at my happiest when I’m doing my crochet work”(Blanchard 2016). Alluding to the concept behind the “Slow Food” movement about regaining pleasures, as the value is gained in the process rather than the final outcome.
Further demonstrating the return of the handcraft is Madoka who was spotted handing out Blitz London vintage flyers on the streets on Brick Lane (Image 16 & 17). Her military inspired bomber jacket had been adorned with hand lacing through eyelets, demonstrating the return of hand techniques in everyday wear.
In the Trend Safari across Europe, the culture and fashion were observed and analysed. The fast paced lifestyle has lead to the emergence of Slow Fashion, an eclectic style of fashion through vintage finds, and a return to traditional handcrafts.
Check out some of the place we have visited in London –
By – Melissa Dimakis & Vivian Chan
Blanchard, T 2016, “Meet the future stars of sustainable fashion”, The Guardian, viewed 23 February 2016, < http://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2016/jan/03/stars-of-sustainable-fashion-ethical-clothing-bright-new-things-selfridges> .
Coulson, C 2012, “The rise of Redchurch Street”, ES Magazine, viewed 22 February 2016, <http://www.standard.co.uk/lifestyle/esmagazine/the-rise-of-redchurch-street-7498874.html >.
Dickson, Cataldi & Grover 2011, “ The Slow Fashion Movement”, Not Just A Label, viewed 21 Feburary 2016, < https://www.notjustalabel.com/editorial/slow-fashion-movement >.
Fletcher, K 2010, “Slow Fashion: An Invitation for Systems Change”, Fashion Practice: The Journal of Design, Creative Process & the Fashion Industry, 22 February 2016, <http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.2752/175693810X12774625387594> .
Global Footprints 2009, Slow Food:Italy, Global Footprints Organisation, viewed 25 February 2016, < http://www.globalfootprints.org/page/id/93/3 >.
In Praise of Slowness 2005, film, Carl Honoré, TED Gloabal, Rio de Janeiro,viewed 24 Feburary 2016, < https://www.ted.com/talks/carl_honore_praises_slowness?language=en#t-762566 >.
Inditex 2016, Zara, Inditex, viewed 20 February 2016, < https://www.inditex.com/brands/zara>.
Kim, E, Fiore AM & Kim, H 2011, Fashion Trends: Analysing and Forecasting, Berg, London UK
McKelvery K & Munslow J 2008, Fashion Forecasting, Blackwell publishing, United Kingdom
Rousso, C 2012, Fashion Forward: A Guide to Fashion Forecasting, Fairchild Books, New York
Selfridges & Co 2014, Fragrance Lab, Selfridges & Co, viewed 23 February 2016, < http://www.selfridges.com/AU/en/content/article/fragrance-lab> .
Tay, R 2012, “The Art and Science of Valuing Vintage”, Business of Fashion, viewed 21 February 2016, <http://www.businessoffashion.com/articles/intelligence/the-art-and-science-of-valuing-vintage > .