Digital Fashion Symposium: LCF Students Assemble Fashion’s Top Voices in Paris
On Friday 14 April, our MA Fashion Cultures and Histories students took their practice across the channel with a collaborative Digital Fashion Symposium at Parsons Paris. With talks from students and guest speakers on everything from digital decolonisation to TikTok’s E-girl fashion, the day was brimming with vital conversations about the future of fashion. We caught up with the students and lecturers involved to hear more about the gathering of Europe’s top voices in digital fashion.
The project saw our Fashion Cultures and Histories postgraduates join forces with students at Parsons Paris. Other than a budget provided by the course team, it was up to the students to orchestrate the event. A small committee, comprising volunteers from both student cohorts, decided on the theme of digital fashion with the help of their peers. “We wanted to make the selection of the theme somewhat democratic” explains LCF student Rebeca Montenegro, and member of the committee. “We tried to see which idea was most popular and how to incorporate others that were also valuable.”
With the theme decided, panellists organised, and presentations ready, the students headed to Paris to meet fashion academics from across the globe. “It’s important to hear different perspectives, especially in Paris as it’s such a large part of the industry,” says LCF student Dominique Nottage, who attended the symposium. “They had speakers from all over, including many from the Netherlands. It was interesting how they all added their perspectives on the industry, it gave a more rounded view.”
“Fashion Studies is an international academic field that relies on many diverse voices and perspectives to unpack and challenge common perceptions of fashion,” comments Caroline Stevenson, Programme Director of Cultural and Historical Studies at London College of Fashion. As a facilitator of the event, Stevenson introduced her students to those at Parsons Paris. “It's important that we provide space for all these voices to shape and permeate our teaching. It's also important that our students have the opportunity to meet new collaborators.”
“I felt nourished by all of the contributions,” Stevenson continues. “What stuck out for me though, was how knowledgeable, but also how accessible the presentations were, and how they used theory to critically frame new impulses and practices within diverse fashion cultures.”
The event was carefully curated to cover as many viewpoints as possible, ensuring there was something for everyone attending. “It was a very enriching, diverse and emotional experience in which we got to learn a lot, and hear other perspectives,” says Rebeca Montenegro. “Personally, I was most fascinated by the presentation of Not Enough Collective. I'm Latin-American with a great passion for the decolonial pursuit and it was very beautiful to hear fellow Latin-Americans with the same love and commitment.”
For Dominique Nottage, Monica Moon’s talk on TikTok and E-girl fashion grabbed her attention. “It stood out to me because it was such a tangible topic, something that was involved in my everyday life,” she tells us. “A lot of the talks were about high fashion but I’m on TikTok every day, so it was directly involved in my world.”
After a day dedicated to the future of fashion, what are the attendees’ thoughts on the prospects for digital fashion and its repercussions on the wider industry?
“Fashion in the digital realm is experimental and transformative but carries with it many of the same hierarchies and practices that define the more damaging aspects of the industry,” Caroline Stevenson comments. “It's important that we celebrate its radical potential, but also that we - as consumers of fashion - pay attention to and understand what we are interacting with.”
As one of the organisers of the event, Rebeca Montenegro agrees that the fashion industry is entering risky territory. “I hate it, and I don’t think it’s the future of fashion,” they share. “I don't think it's something that most of the population has anything to do with, but I still think it's a relevant discussion. New means and technologies are always complex things to navigate, and I think there are lots of very interesting ideas that come from the digitalisation of an embodied practice.”
“We all need to be aware, not just people inside the industry. That way we can add humanity back into fashion,” comments Dominque Nottage. “There are a lot of people that don’t realise clothing is still made by humans and not machines. So, it’s important to everyone that we’re aware of what new technology means for humanity. I don’t think we can bullet train to the future.”
Written by LCF Newsroom Content Creator, Mimi Francis-Mearns, BA (Hons) Fashion Journalism and Content Creation.