Couture. A word that comes with so much baggage. Its literal translation is ‘sewing’ or ‘seam’ but it’s come to mean so much more. The term haute couture is protected by law. Every year a regulating body meets to determine which fashion houses are, or are not, officially haute couture. Only those on the list can use the label. It’s a small club of established big brands.
But what if the garments you create exist outside ideas established in the 19th century? What if you invest the same hyper-attention to detail, collaborate with the finest (digital) craftspeople, and have equal respect for your material, which happens to be data?
Could a digital fashion house ever become haute couture, or is it time for a new definition? Have we entered the era of ‘thought couture’? Couture that exists beyond the physical, just like a thought.
Earlier this year we created the world’s first digital couture to be sold on the blockchain. The design was made-to-measure and fitted to our client. We used only the finest craftspeople, constructing the garment using bits and bytes. Our atelier utilised high resolution screens, not scissors and cutting tables.
Though we align with some of its principles, it’s unlikely that a digital fashion house would achieve haute couture status — its criteria comes from an age when the use of the physical world was the only option.
Our garments will never consume natural resources. No animals will be driven to the brink of extinction by digital fashion. Instead of haute couture the term ‘thought couture’ better describes what we do. Couture can exist beyond the physical, just like a thought. What better space to occupy than the one where ideas happen?
Fashion has many long-established beliefs. Some of them, like the status of haute couture, exist to preserve excellence. It says that craftwork must be executed in a certain way to be granted the title. It encourages the exploration of visionary ideas.
But what if the expertise you use didn’t exist when the rules were made? What if you make clothing with exactly the same dedication to craft, while exploring creative possibilities that aren’t limited by the physical world?
Digital-only fashion garments have arrived. New ideas need new definitions. Couture can exist but not be physical, just like a thought. But could fashion allow ‘thought couture’ a place alongside haute couture?
*Piece originally posted on The Fabricant’s blog: October 3, 2019.