This Is What Democracy Looks Like
It’s impossible not to be preoccupied by the topic of democracy and the nature of our institutions right now, but what does democracy mean for our digital existence, and is it even relevant to how we operate in the non-physical fashion world?
A topline definition of it states:
“Democracy is a system of decision-making within an institution, organization or country, in which all members have an equal share of power.”
If we apply that theory to fashion’s creative process, it deals a body blow to the current opinion on how things should be done, and storms the gates of creative possibility.
The beauty of 3D digital fashion is that it’s a rolling work-in-progress, where we can cherry-pick ideas that serve us and step away from those that don’t. Better yet, this evolving space allows us to transplant concepts from outside our usual sphere of reference and use them to reboot what the fashion industry can be.
For The Fabricant, democracy is an idea that’s been persistently under-utilised within fashion creativity, where it remains deeply unpopular as a way of operating. Traditional fashion has a longstanding view on what it considers to be the appropriate way to function: a lone auteur is credited with a label’s creative vision, with the resulting garments bestowed to the public as the definitive execution of a brand’s image.
But what if it isn’t?
What if we dare to think of brand creations as inspirational pieces that are designed to be reconstructed, restyled, and reimagined by their intended user, instead of casting them in the role of passive fashion recipient?
3D digital fashion comes ready-made with the capacity for collaboration and co-creation built into its technological foundations. Democratic fashion creation isn’t merely an idea that The Fabricant supports, it’s something we’ve actively facilitated from day one.
Since 2018 we’ve dropped free digital pattern files to our highly engaged 3D community, both of our own garments and those of the brands we work with, giving creators free rein to use them as they wish. One file alone of a Marques Almeida puffer jacket has received hundreds of reworkings, with fashion lovers reinterpreting the piece based on their own aesthetic preference. Each version offers a unique creative perspective taking the garment to new levels of visual possibility.
Marques Almeida was one of the first to understand the power of the idea we proposed to them in our early days: That by participating freely and openly with the collective imagination, its garment file served as an invitation to prolonged and reciprocal creative engagement with the brand, while placing it at the forefront of the digital fashion revolution.
The path towards democracy has always required a dramatic shift in ideology. By embracing the spirit and mindset of digital fashion, the traditional industry can weather the cultural transition. Only then will it benefit from a new paradigm that puts fashion’s creative power in the hands of the many, instead of continuing to preserve it for the few.
IMAGES: The Marques Almeida puffer jacket, as recreated by: @ruby9100m @theblacklabstudio @wonderkatzi @nivva_
*Piece originally posted on The Fabricant’s blog: October 30, 2020.