Confronting the status quo, challenging the dominant hegemony – as my Marxist teacher used to say – is arguably at the very root of creativity and thought.
Or, as Henry Thoreau put it, ‘Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.’
But are students today getting fat and complacent, more interested in buying the latest Nikes or Xbox than changing the world?
PROTEST14, an annual collaborative project between London College of Fashion and the Centre for Sustainable Fashion, proves just the opposite.
Inspired by Fashion Revolution Day, BA students were tasked with conveying a meaningful issue (of their choosing) via a statement emblazoned on their designs – in a homage to Katharine Hamnett’s CBE infamous T-shirts.
Creative director of the School of Design and Technology Rob Phillips described the project’s aims and process in a mission statement.
‘Fashion is a message,’ he says. ‘The image we construct of ourselves as a projection to others carries just as much of a moral and political message as it does one’s beauty, individuality and character.
‘At London College of Fashion, we recognise, empathise and react to global challenges through fashion design, analysis and communication. Our visual responses act as catalysts for change through the conversations they encourage. We will continually support initiatives that help highlight issues, engaging more people and practices in coming together to create change.
‘PROTEST14 is an evolving project. Each year, we create an output for our students’ voices that grows from what we know fashion to be. Students were tasked with creating a FASHION STATEMENT to convey a meaningful issue they felt important to raise awareness about through a 3D design output.
‘Students were asked to engage with traditional means of communicating issues: to use statement wording emblazoned on their designs in homage to Katharine Hamnett’s CBE infamous T-Shirts.
‘The responses were uniquely individual with each group researching and responding to their chosen social issue with a heartfelt, crucial human message. Parenting, education, manufacture, materials, finance, oppression, propaganda, war, politics, health and wellbeing are but a few of the themes that the students explored.
‘Whether you agree or disagree with their opinions, and however the works speak to you, the aim of this ‘life game’ is not about the current moment or coming up with definitive answers. This is about us thinking more, talking more and doing more to make ALL of our lives better.
‘We have voices. Let’s use them – together. Here’s to change.’
The students worked collaboratively in five groups to tackle issues that had resonated with them – ranging from the end of individuality to the destructive effects of fast fashion.
The garments were then captured in a shoot by photographer Riccardo Raspa and the images are on display for one day, April 24th, Fashion Revolution Day, at a pop up venue at White Rabbit Studios in Shoreditch.
Texts accompanying each group explained the slogans the students had decided to use. There’s no shortage of thought about and passion for their causes. Who says the students are revolting? Because, thank God, they are.
#PROJECT14. 7pm – 10pm, Thursday 24 April 2014, White Rabbit Studios 471-473 The Arches, Dereham Place, Shoreditch, EC2A 3HJ
Photography, Riccardo Raspa. Photography Assistant, Francesco La Porta. Creative Director, Rob Phillips. Beauty, Melissa Wong.