Ten British Designers (J.W. Anderson, Peter Pilotto, Agi & Sam, Bobby Abley, Christopher Raeburn, Nasir Mazhar, Phoebe English, Preen by Thornton Bregazzi, Thomas Tait and Claire Barrow) unveiled last week in London their Star Wars - The Force Awakens-inspired creations.
The garments are currently being auctioned with proceeds being donated to Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity (the designers participating in this project also created a unisex sweatshirt and t-shirt inspired by the film which are on sale at Selfridges).
Despite the good purpose, some of the pieces for this initiative looked rather costumy; at times they also looked as if they were hastily made with very poor quality fabrics (cosplayers come up with greater ideas and solutions when it comes to materials and accessories...) or simply displayed a sort of bonkers attitude to fashion (yes, this is supposed to be a cool and fun initiative, but J.W. Anderson's men's and women's wear outfits with their transfer stickers and cotton patch appliqués on tops and trousers, handmade quilts and frame with dangling Star Wars figurines and toy weapons, verged too much towards the "mental samurai meets rag and bone man" style...).
It is actually a bit of a shame that young designers may not be grasping the chance to take part in these projects inspired by a sci-fi film to develop something more pioneering, such as the initiative launched by Print All Over Me (PAOM). This platform (similar in some ways to Constrvct by Continuum) offers artists and the designers the chance to print their own creations on a series of silhouettes, garments and items.
PAOM recently teamed up with the Processing Foundation to offer designs created by digital artists and give the chance to people to customise graphics developed with generative art. Thirty per cent of proceeds from each sale will be donated to the Processing Foundation to support open source development.
Founded in 2012 the Processing Foundation has one main mission - promoting software literacy and creative work with code within the visual arts and visual literacy within technology-related fields, and making sure that these tools and resources are accessible to diverse communities.
The Processing Foundation collaboration with PAOM features so far pieces developed with LIA and Sosolimited. Using p5.js the artists created algorithmic software systems that dynamically generate a design based on users' input. This means that every garment created by the consumer will be personalised and unique.
In LIA's case users can choose their fave garment, then press the number keys 1-8 to change the colours of the graphics and 0 and 9 to alter the scale.
PixelWeaver is instead a web-based application that allows users to choose between skinny, fat, vertical or horizontal weaves based on a search term (in the case of my pictures the term is the sentence "bright yellow sun, crystal blue sea" represented in vertical and horizontal weaves).
When users click on the "Generate" button, the application scours the Internet for the best bits to cover the design, then captures the essence of a search term and algorithmically blends and remixes the top image search results.
It seems rather bizarre that, while independent platforms are opening up new opportunities to artists and designers that in the long run may actually really change the way we think, produce and manufacture textiles, garments and accessories, the fashion industry seems more interested in powerful partnerships (with a futuristic sci-fi film or with multinational technology companies and producers of high-tech gadgets). But what if the future of fashion stood in empowering people of all backgrounds by giving them the chance to design, experiment and customise through things such as open software, rather than in offering a few selected wealthy ones expensive and luxurious toys?
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