Japanese and post-apocalyptic influenced fashion design: Konnichiwa

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Results of these experiments were quite successful, giving women one way to express themselves. The famous designer Elsa Schiaparelli introduced use of unconventional objects and silhouettes as acceptable in high fashion. That’s how you may have faces emblazoned on the front of shirts and jackets. Yarn on sleeves has hair for those faces, and plastic bugs for buttons. While couture fashion was out of reach for most women, the outlandish styles they portrayed were art forms worn on the body.

It was this freedom that allowed women to be more creative in their clothing choices. Instead of going to a couturier, some people took on the task of creating original fashion using the best technique they could in producing these clothes. Those who can sew well and could interpret their concepts into something wearable, were able to mimic couture quality clothing.Those who did not have the skills still created original art that turned out beautiful or failed at making a successful garment.

It is this differentiation that caused the variation of defining wearable art just as it is easy to determine good painting from bad ones. There is another contention among artists whether wearable art is truly an art form. While I believe the wearable art movement is still in its infancy, some of the driving forces that affect its legitimacy are technology, access, concept and skill. While making clothes does take a level of skill, it does not make one an artist. With technology giving people the ability to transfer their ideas into something a machine can interpret, it is almost always a pre-determined selection such as machine embroidery, machine applique, machine long arm quilting, sewing patterns and kits.

Access to technology and lack of skills do not prevent anyone from calling themselves an artist. There are many sewing and quilt guilds as well as hundreds of workshops and conferences across America that are open to all. Women wearing vests they’ve made with flowers and butterflies with machine appliques or sewn by hand are the result of attending such a workshop.

Cultural Influence in Fashion

The nude, they say, is the naked body clothed in culture, yet fashion is difficult to define. One thing that comes up frequently in defining fashion is its ability to move fast within the confines of culture. Along with fashion, beauty is almost always intertwined in defining it yet culture has more to do with defining beauty. Fashion is a complete reflection of society. It seems, internationally, the western ideal of beauty was adopted and stood as a standard for all to follow beginning from 1760 to 1840. The industrial revolution introduced technology that exposed new scientific inventions and communication around the world. In the late 19th century, the rotary printer was invented and the fashion magazine was created.

A good example began with copying naval military uniforms of the British by the Japanese soon after the Franco-Prussian War. In 1872, the Meiji emperor mandated men of the Imperial Court to wear western clothing consisting of a frock coat or hat or military regalia. In 1886, the women had to adopt the same rule by wearing corsets and bustles. It was during this period the Japanese elite realised a near-perfect imitation of western wear.

The Mechanism of Change

American advertising has helped distribute fashion especially after World War II. Reflections of lifestyles, fashions and trends made consumers aware of what was available. A massive amount of magazines were published just prior to the 20th century and among them was Vogue. In the forefront of American industries were fashion and publishing. The two united made for a unique blend that American women adopted and depended on for fashion news.


France has been considered the fashion capital of the world since the country’s influence in European fashion towards the end of the 18th century. Even with the world in turmoil and fashion magazines and advertisements terminated during the German Occupation, France withstood the challenges and continued to be the capital for fashion. The introduction of new collections by designers in Paris exposed the country to the worldwide fashion audience while earning high credentials from the world of fashion. In 1981, Yoji Yamamoto persuaded Issey Miyake and Rei Kawakubo to show their collections. These Japanese designers made an impact that influenced the fashion industry because it demanded female independency which was quite controversial at the time.


Japanese Concept

Post-Apocalyptic fashion has been part of the fashion scene since the 1980s when Japanese designers received international notoriety for a new perspective on fashion. Asymmetry, architectural shapes, bold textures, Asian nuances and subdued colours were mainstream concepts accepted as Japanese fashion. They questioned conventional attitudes towards fashion and were considered to be subversive to western standards of clothing. The Japanese fashion aesthetic took on complex, multiple and multilayered ideas as part of their normal approach to designing clothes.


Segments of cultural pop assisted in the acceptance of the avant-garde lifestyle. The popularity of science fiction movies depicting the end and what life will be like after Armageddon or the Biblical Book of Revelations as concepts for movies have popularised the depiction of post-Apocalyptic life. First introduced in the 1980s, this unconventional design style was called The Day After and Post-Hiroshima. While Issey Miyake may not be the first Japanese designer to introduce Japanese-influenced designs, he was the epitome of Japanese aesthetics rooted in its country’s history.

Wearable Art Defined

Difficult to define, wearable art is controversial among many art enthusiasts. “Serious” artists reject this new art medium that does not seem to fit the realm of fine arts. From painting and sculpture the top echelons of the art world, followed by photography then crafts. Crafts seem to be the best fit for this relatively new art form because it dealt with using textiles.While rejected by the fine arts for not having a concrete definition of what it is, fashion introduced the wearer as part of the work itself. Unlike the realm of dance or the use of space to build installations, wearable art doesn’t require a level of intricate dexterity.

Most wearable art takes the form of clothing without a sense of real meaning or purpose but rather, more for decoration.The usual materials used are fabrics and textiles of many forms. Sewing is usually the method used in producing these pieces of “art”. While couture is the highest level of fashion, couture can also be considered wearable art. But not all wearable art is couture mainly because it may not have been produced using the best techniques and/or materials. The end product is mainly concerned with the concept of the design, rather than quality. There are many levels of wearable artists and some of them may not even consider themselves artists. What defines wearable art is its intentions. And the more serious art with concrete concepts and intentions almost always is considered couture. It is this undefined meaning that helps to cause this art form to be taken seriously by others.


Moreover, it is the artists who separate themselves from sewing enthusiasts. Fibre arts, in comparison, are created by artists who specialise in the making of textiles. There are quite a few wearable artists who also consider themselves textile artists or fibre artists. But the two can be very different from each other, mainly based again on intentions.


Techniques Used in the Making of Wearable Art



Quilts are technically defined as three layers consisting of the exposed layer, batting, and the back. Quilting has been an American tradition which utilised old clothing to repurpose by cutting into shapes sewn together either at random or in prescribed patterns. This was a good way to recycle fabric into a usable object for warmth as well as decoration on the bed or the wall.


The Art Quilt started during Victorian times as a way to use scrap fabric, mostly velvet and velveteen, to put together a quilt using random shapes of fabric. Seams were covered with ornate hand-stitching with thread and/or ribbon. Because these quilts did not resemble the usual symmetrically designed quilts, they were also called crazy quilts.

Stippling is the sewing of meandering patterns of stitching to create textures on the surface of the fabric. This design can be interpreted as wearable art or couture because of its conventional style yet unorthodox way of wearing clothes.


Fibre/Textiles Arts

Fibre/textiles art consists of printing, dyeing, painting, stencilling, discharging (take colour away), weaving, knitting, crocheting, and hand-stitching, among other techniques that can be used to create a wearable art piece.

Originally, the fabric used to make this garment was black. Discharging takes colour away like bleach. Strips of fabric were uniformly cut into half-inch strips, tied together and made into a ball of yarn. These strips were then crocheted together to make the scarf and sweater.

Digital Textile Printing on Textiles

One of the most important technological advancements in the development of textiles is the use of textile printing using dyes. Overall, digital printing on textiles works very much like a regular desktop printer but on a much larger scale. Textile printers can be wide enough to accommodate 60 to 84 inches wide fabric of any length required for the design.

This quilt was digitally printed on cotton sheeting and quilted using Channel or Shadow or Echo stitching, where one row of stitches follows another row of stitching a quarter of an inch apart from each other.


Hand Manipulation

Hand manipulation is literally the use of your hands to create special stitches or knots such as crocheting, hand knitting, machine knitting, embroidery, applique, knotting, weaving, ribbon work, felting and many other techniques using specific muscle dexterity.


Title: Trebor (Quevedo, 2002)


Strips of rayon fabric were cut and crocheted to make this sweater and scarf. The head piece was made from strips of fabric that were dyed, then stitched together again.


Untitled (Quevedo, 2001)


This vessel was created by cutting strips of thin synthetic fabric wrapped over a metal form that was then melted. Once cooled, the metal form was taken away and the fabric was plasticized.

Germany: The year in retrospect

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Both a plethora of problems and a number of new developments made the fashion headlines in 2015. The exhibition landscape changed significantly, and retail continues to be challenged by the ever-growing relevance of e-commerce. And while classical retail is trying to stabilise its business, online giants are battling against each other.

The bankruptcies

Almost a permanent fixture in the headlines was department store group Karstadt. The bankruptcy of the Arcandor mother company, which itself went insolvent six years ago, will still take “many years” to find its footing again, the liquidator said in November, according to the German Press Agency. The reasons were mainly litigations, including those against numerous former managers of the group, like former top executive Thomas Middelhoff. In all, 37,500 creditors are asking for €1.2 billion, according to the report of the liquidator. At the same time, reports of real estate sales of Karstadt stores have been coming in.

Another bankruptcy that affected the fashion industry was the end of Bread & Butter. In December 2014, the bankruptcy sounded like a drumbeat through the denim and sportswear industry. Although the show reported repeatedly about lower exhibitor and visitor numbers, the daring plans of CEO Karl-Heinz Muller polarised the denim community, and the end of the show came for many quite abruptly. But even more surprising was the news of the takeover of the fair by the Berlin e-commerce giant Zalando. His idea: Bread & Butter should continue to take place on the grounds of Tempelhof Airport in Berlin-but no more as a fair, but as a fashion event for consumers. The premiere of the new concept-that Muller had wanted to realise earlier, but had failed due to the resistance from brands-has been scheduled for January 2016. But in December, the Berlin Senate decided that the Tempelhof Field and the halls of the former airport would be used as refugee shelters until the end of 2019. Therefore, Zalando now has to search for a new location for Bread & Butter. The proposed January event was, therefore, postponed.

Also, Escada struggled through the year. In July, the fashion label announced that it would have to cancel about 200 jobs in the next two years. At the company’s headquarters in Munich, some 150 employees had to go. The job cuts are part of a restructuring programme, which is aimed to reposition the company since the departure of former CEO Bruno Salzer.

Berlin exhibition landscape

Despite the loss of Bread & Butter, which was the strongest event in the Berlin trade fair scene some years ago, the city presented a fragmented, but lively exhibition scene. Panorama and Premium especially have won and further developed their respective profiles. In July, the premium operators reported an increase in visitors of 70 per cent on the first day itself. Panorama will enlarge its area in next January by about 3,000 square metres. The sale of skate-and-streetwear fair Bright to the Premium fair was welcomed with excitement. With the acquisition of all shares of Bright-founders Thomas Martini and Marco Aslim, Bright merged with the Premium sub label Seek. In summer, both events took place in the same location for the first time, and the response was positive. In addition, quite a number of other specialised trade fairs were organised in Berlin: Show & Order, Berlin Fashion Salon, Green Showroom, Ethical Fashion Show and of course Berlin Fashion Week, among others.

Clash of the online titans

The growing e-commerce business dominated the news landscape considerably. Not only did online giant Zalando demonstrated a remarkable pace and launched its exclusive distribution deal with Topshop and Gap this year, the announced sales target at the end of the year was €3 billion. The competition from abroad is already started. Uniqlo went online in Germany this year, while Alibaba opened a branch here. To start with, Alibaba will help conquering the Chinese market for local traders, the company said. But for the future, the German market shows potential too. This is the strategy of the Otto Group which has a joint venture with Chinese online marketplace JD.com. In return, JD.com will invest in Zitra GmbH, a subsidiary of the Otto Group. The 50:50 joint venture has been designed to enable international brands to break into the Chinese market, or increase their own sales on JD.com and other online marketplaces worldwide. Thus, JD.com is a new global competitor to Amazon. Amazon, on the other hand, announced its intention to enter the fashion market with six of its own brands, but at the moment this would only be in the US. Even more interesting are Amazon’s new logistics solutions. Amazon is offering same-day delivery in Germany for the first time, and even drones will carry packets in the future. Many doubt the feasibility of this idea, though drone delivery is being tested in some areas by Deutsche Post.

Price wars and international implications

Discounts without end: that’s the summary of the year 2015. Difficult weather conditions last winter had caused lower turnovers and resulted in a sales battle. And the same seems to be the forecast for this winter. Moreover, the discount wars of Black Friday and Cyber Monday have been recognised by large numbers of German consumers for the first time this year. More than ever, brands and retailers have taken the opportunity to reduce their stocks before Christmas. In Germany alone, about a quarter of German online retailers participated. Experts expected a sales growth of 16.8 per cent from the previous year for the Black Friday weekend and online revenues of a total of €924 million.

Meanwhile, Swiss companies have felt the full brunt of its currency reform this year. After the surprising decision of the Swiss National Bank in January to lift the minimum euro exchange rate with immediate effect and to decouple the franc from the euro, many Swiss retailers suffered from a declining demand. Especially in the border regions, consumers preferred to shop in cheaper Austria, Italy or Germany. The price transparency of the Internet amplifies the shopping in foreign online shops. At the same time, the brands reacted with price adjustments. So, luxury goods house Richemont and watchmaker Swatch announced price increases in the euro area, with market leader Rolex going up to 14 percent.

The Russian embargo caused many problems as well. Brands such as Escada and Laurel or the Ahlers AG with its brands Pierre Cardin and Baldessarini, which are traditionally strong in Russia, suffered heavy losses.

And there was another topic too, which was quite ubiquitous, especially in the fashion media. The large quantities of refugees in Germany and Austria led to an incredibly high number of events and actions to help them. Many brands and retailers donated clothes and shoes or even collected money for them.

Dots and lines can make garments that suit the wearer

A product is developed according to a planned layout that should result in a functional and aesthetically pleasing outcome. When a designer works on a design for a garment, thought has to be given to make the garment appeal to the target client. It is essential for the designer to keep in mind the psychographics and demographics of the wearer.

So when a motif, design or silhouette is visualised as a component of the final garment, the aim must be to give the wearer a well-composed and suitable appearance by experimenting with various elements and principles of design.

The elements of design are the building blocks of any design. Compiled skilfully, they create effective visual communication.

The elements of design discussed are:

–>         Dot/Point

–>         Various styles of lines



–>         A dot is the basic element of design.

–>         It is the smallest and the simplest unit suggesting its presence.

–>         Dots are the building blocks of everything else in a design.

–>         The size of dots in a design is not related to any kind of illusion of height or length in any garment.

–>         Larger dots create an illusion of increased surface area, making the wearer appear to be wide. So, larger dots are suitable for slim people and inappropriate for those with a heavy body type.

–>         Small dots look best on people with a wide and heavy body structure as the dots have a smaller surface area and create an illusion of slimness. They have the added advantage of looking good even on slim people.


A line is a versatile mode of expression. Its various qualities evoke different feelings and each type has distinguished significance.

Various styles of lines are:

–>         Vertical lines: These relate to the length of the garment and give an illusion of height as the eye of the viewer runs from top to bottom, concealing the width of the wearer. So, vertical lines are suitable for the heavy body type and for those who are short.

–>         Thin vertical lines: These are explicitly suitable for heavy people as well as wearers with an athletic built. They have come to be associated with a strong personality, and so, they are used mostly for formal wear.

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–>         Broad/Thick/Dominating Vertical lines: These are not suitable for a person with a heavy torso as they highlight just what needs to be concealed, but they can be worn by a petite person as they give an illusion of height. The outcome may be a masculine look, so they are more suitable for men’s wear.


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Horizontal lines: Running across the body, horizontal lines widen the look of the wearer as the eye of the beholder is guided across the width of the body rather than the height. Horizontal lines are inappropriate for people with a heavy body type, but suitable for a slim tall person who wants to distract attention from height.

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–>         Diagonal lines/ Zigzag lines: These lines are highly kinetic in appearance and would suggest liveliness and movement. Diagonals and zigzags can be used to create a focal point in an area of a design or a garment to highlight it, while concealing others. These lines are very striking and easily capture the attention of the onlooker. They counter natural curves. Credited with creating a masculine look, they are more suitable for menswear.

–>         More horizontal diagonal lines: These would give a widening effect so they are not suggested for a short or plump person.

–>         More vertical diagonal lines: These would give an illusion of height and slim build, so they are suitable for a squat person. However, these lines should not be used in an area which is to be hidden. A slim person may look more slim in these lines.


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Perpendicular lines: These lines are bold and eye-catching, useful in making a blank, large area in a garment or design more exciting and conspicuous. They counter roundness and conceal flab.

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–>         Dotted or slashed lines: These lines are more attractive than regular, continuous lines. These break the monotony in a design, making a basic outfit more interesting and attractive.


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–>         Curved/Undulating/Spiral/Wavy lines: Graceful and elegant, these lines create a feminine look and emphasise roundness. So, they are not very suitable for the skinny wearer. These lines suggest fullness and are used frequently in sportswear to counter the masculine look of the sportsperson.–>

Sustainable fashion: Welcome revolution

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Sustainable fashion can best be brought in by creating sustainably designed products which increase the longevity of a garment. There are many reasons behind the formation of the sustainable fashion movement and one major reason is the fast fashion phenomenon. Low-cost clothing flies off the shelves faster, so brands have started focusing on cheap garments with short lead time. Recent studies on carbon footprints in the United Kingdom were triggered by excess clothing bought by customers, increasing the rate of carbon dioxide equivalent emission into the environment, setting off alarms in those rooting for sustainable fashion. People want to buy more garments every season at low cost even though their life span is so short that they need to be discarded at the end of the season. This psychological behaviour of customers has to be changed to implement the sustainable fashion movement.

Sustainability, by definition, should meet current generation needs without compromising future generations. The major challenge in sustainability is the cooperation of all suppliers of individual components. They have to be ethically secured and accounted for, from labour to transportation from factory to retail outlet, aftercare and disposal of garments. The fashion industry has a complex and fragmented supply chain that has global reach.

For the fashion industry, green is the new black to focus on sustainable practices. Several incidents in the twentieth century helped the rise of conscious consumerism. One is the fire in a Nike factory in Indonesia due to poor working conditions, resulting in protests and boycotts by employees and the media. Twenty-four years later, Nike is one of the leading companies in implementing sustainable practices.

Brands have continually supported in raising campaigns like Pantagonia’s responsible economy, which shows how sustainability is inbuilt into their corporate structure. Brands like Levi’s have cleverly showed such implementation into the lifecycle of their garments to raise consumer awareness. A case in point is Levi’s Care Tag For Our Planet initiative and waterless and Wellthread Collections made from 100 per cent recyclable material. Several big brands like Gucci, Calvin Klein, Stella McCartney and Puma are also stressing on sustainability.

Concerns of fashion industry

After the oil industry, the fashion and textile sector is the most polluting, because each stage of a garment’s life cycle threatens our planet and resources. To produce a kilogram of cotton — equivalent to one T-shirt or a pair of jeans — requires more than 20,000 litres of water, one of the major resources. About 8,000 types of chemicals are used in the conversion of raw material into garments. If some clothes do not sell or when they go out of style, they land in giant landfills, adding to the pollution.

Fast fashion is unsustainable

Fast fashion refers to low-cost clothing designed on high-cost luxury fashion trends. Such garments are disposed of fast. A responsive supply chain works to bring such products to the market in a week’s time, opposed to the regular product launch leadtime of six months. Companies in the fast fashion category are thriving on fast cycles such as speedy prototyping, small ratio of more varieties, efficient transportation and fast delivery. Even those companies prefer to attach the hangers with price tags at the factory end itself to save time to get the product launched on the floor as early as possible.

These clothing brands have made their products so affordable that consumers buy more garments, resulting in over-consumption of unsustainable clothing. Brands attract consumers through pleasant prices to ensure consumer loyalty. Consumers, on other hand, without knowing the truth, compare prices of the same or similar products across two to three shops and reach the one which is cheapest. Most of the time, the consumer is unaware that the cheaper garment can be worn only for two to three times as it will lose its personality after washing. The cycle repeats itself thereafter resulting in accumulation of fast fashion and spending money unnecessarily.

Industry’s new analysis tool

Analysis of complex process or Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) identifies the impact of each clothing manufacturing process such as raw material sourcing and preparation, manufacture, shipping and transportation, maintenance, disposal and recycling. The relative impact of any given number of garments in a wardrobe can be understood by keeping the length and intensity of utility as a denominator.

A garment of higher environmental impact can be worn longer with less impact than a garment of lower impact worn only once or twice of a short fashion cycle. Brands, along with industry, should pay attention to all factors influencing the impact of the clothing lifecycle such as supply chain, product design and quality. So, LCA is the best tool to identify risk generating areas of environmental impact and to optimise product design based on LCA results and achieve a sustainable business model.

Intergration of sustainable practices

To mitigate future risk, brands should put their best foot in sustainability practices in the design and development phases. Some leading apparel brands are doing well on sustainable practices and lessening environmental impacts but their budget is far beyond the middle market. Nevertheless, they are proving that sustainability can be woven into fashion, from fibre to finished garment. Some ways to do so include:

Design phase: Choose materials such as fabrics, trims, packing items with lowest environmental impact in the design phase itself. Each clothing material should be evaluated for its impact in terms of water usage and energy requirements, with the emission rates in the manufacturing process and renewable and non-renewable resources required for fibre production and cleaning.



Cara Delevingne

Cara Delevingne has not been shy about her decision to back away from the fashion industry as she attempts to build a career as an actress. And now, the former supermodel has expanded on why the modeling world just wasn’t for her.

“I didn’t like myself as a model,” she told The RadioTimes. “I didn’t like what I stood for. I didn’t like what it was turning me into. Not that I was focused about how I looked all the time, but it is kind of about that.”

Delevingne rose to fame extremely quickly after being signed by Storm Models, but she now says that this wasn’t necessarily something that she wanted.

“That is not me at all—you speak to my oldest best friends and they know I’m not a model. I do not give a shit about what I look like.”

She went on to explain that acting had always been her outlet for depression and that it is something she has wanted to do her entire life, adding that it makes her “very happy”.

Of course Delevingne has not completely left the fashion world behind and still stars in campaigns for the likes of Chanel and Rimmel, as well as appearing in fashion magazines and on front rows. The actress says that it is far different this time around though.

“Now when I’m a model, I get to style my own shoots and decide who I work with,” she said. “Now it’s become a creative outlet, instead of me being used as a pawn.”