Especially since the 1960s Sirogojno has been known for its traditional knitting and wool garment production. Invited by the GRAD European Centre for Culture and Debate (KC GRAD), we visited the village and its knitters as part of our six day long ‘exploring inspiration’ journey. The ‘exploring inspiration’ project aims to combine Dutch and Serbian perspectives in order to discuss creativity and local and international possibilities. Moreover, KC GRAD believes that the different cultures and backgrounds of the designers involved with the project will contribute to a better understanding of modern trends and needs for the creative sector.
According to José Teunissen (2005) a focus on traditional costume and crafts has been fuelled by processes of globalisation that stimulate designers to explore their local heritage in order to make a difference in the global market. Like in the work of the Dutch designer duo Soepboer & Stooker, Serbian designer George Styler tells stories about local history by means of his clothing designs. Inspired by the knitting techniques of the Sirogojno women, history is beautifully interwoven in contemporary fashion items and, as a result, the designs raise people’s awareness of their (often forgotten) cultural heritage. In other words, “the regionally specific preoccupations with dress are evident in dress diasporas that domesticate elements of regional dress on global terms” (Hansen 2004).
Knitted history in contemporary fashion: exploring the relationship between traditional and contemporary design. Our journey to Serbia has provided us with the first insights in relation to a research project that I just started together with designer Conny Groenewegen. Together we will develop a contemporary Frisian fisherman sweater. What will it look like? And, how can we, as researcher and designer, translate cultural heritage in a contemporary fashion context? George Styler’s imagination of cultural history has just given me the inspiration that I was looking for!
Drawn images: Amelia’s Magazine