CULTURAL HERITAGE IN A CONTEMPORARY FASHION CONTEXT

Date: April 02  2015
Category: fabric design

Cultural-Heritage-in-a-Contemporary-Fashion-ContextA few research projects are coming up. DesignXPO Fryslân is one of them. Together with fashion designer Conny Groenewegen we will develop a contemporary Frisian fisherman sweater (visserstrui). During this four-year research project we will explore the meaning of Frisian identity. By means of participant observation and fabric experimentation and development we will translate an old tradition into a modern context. What would a Frisian fisherman sweater look like considering current issues of inclusion and exclusion, community and diversity, centre and periphery? How can we, as researcher and designer, translate cultural heritage in a contemporary fashion context?

Theme of Friesland’s bid for European capital of culture in 2018 is ‘Iepen Mienskip’. Literally translated this means ‘open sense of community’, or ‘criss-crossing communities’ is what they also call it. With their bid for European Capital 
of Culture, they aim to re-invent the old Frisian spirit of shared community feeling. In essence, the bid is about exploring new ways of citizen participation. Thus, we will develop the sweater in collaboration with local citizens and by means of incorporating local products into the production process. This way, we make sure to exchange ideas and experiences between researcher and maker, inhabitant and visitor. And so, we will create a product that extends the boundaries of Friesland. By means of intellectual craftsmanship we will embrace heritage in order to create contemporary design.

As I mentioned in one of my previous pieces, according to Daniëlle Bruggeman, ‘different scholars examine the ways in which fashion shapes the identity of nations and cities in relation to processes of economic and cultural globalisation. While taking into account the global dimension of fashion, these scholars explore the interrelationship between fashion and a ‘national fabric’ (2014). In the process of creating a contemporary Frisian fisherman sweater, the laboratory of Conny Groenewegen’s atelier will serve as springboard for the innovation of a new fabric. Groenewegen is known for her experimental and technological fabrics. Furthermore, the tension between mechanization and handwork, industry and artisan, is clearly observable in her designs.

Our goal with the creation of this new ‘Frisian’ fabric, is to translate a local/regional Frisian identity to a more national and European level. We are thus aiming to frame a contemporary product on a more global scale, traveling across cultures just like fishermen do.

Images: Conny Groenewegen PRIMARY EXPLORERS AW2013/2014 and ALCHEMY AW2012/2013

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