Fashion faces challenges in a dramatically changing world. Social, economic factors and the pace of change in new media and technology development are forcing bodily practices, design, textile and (social) fabric into the transformation process. This panel seeks to explore this complex phenomenon.
With the rise of celebrity culture and fashion and lifestyle blogging the body is at the centre of attention. Fashion shows have opened to include bloggers enabling broader audiences beyond professional designers, luxury consumers and fashion journalists. The creation of these new actors is one side effect of the accompanying debates on body awareness and diversity, tugging along discussions about bodily practices in digital culture as much as in "real life". New media technology changed the way the body and self is presented through digital alterations of images, but it also gave way to innovative approaches towards creating textiles and designs. Novel materials and wearable technology applications create further possibility to recreate the body and its interpretations presented not only as imagery, but abstract data visualisations. Sharing and competing using data representations has potential to influence positive changes in health but also marginalises users to digital selves, also seen through use of online personas on social media platforms. As the body, becoming a status symbol in itself, is presented in new dimensions, it is the designers turn to disrupt/appropriate innovation using new, functional smart materials as well as traditional fabrics and techniques and their cultural narratives to create new designs mirroring these changes. In doing so, they face challenges from serving questions of health, sustainability, economic and gender justice as much as aesthetics and design innovation. This panel seeks to explore these challenges and transformations from a variety of perspectives such as new materialism and its practices, among others.