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09-10-2005
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Fashion and Responsibility - Ethical questions
Fashion has a bad reputation. It's notoriously animal unfriendly, it pushes unhealthy body trends to the masses, and as discussed in the recent Galliano SS06 thread it puts out images that can be sometimes detrimental to a certain group (or seen that way). What level of responsibility do designers have? What responsibilities are they willing to accept?

I would say Galliano is at the forefront with collections taken straight out of a Fellini movie. Designers like Oliver Theyskens and Alber Elbaz seem to be more concious of the images and clothes they make. I would like to hear some opinions about this. I study art and most of my work deals with clothing and fashion in some way. I get a lot of crap from my instructors and classmates who see fashion as a frivolous and irresponsible industry only concerned about making money. I have to defend myself often and this is a topic that always seems to come up.

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09-10-2005
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i like this thread and i will give my views in a few minutes.........................

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18-10-2005
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mutterlein thats so true ... don´t think im racist or something but i think it´s nicer seeing the clothes in tall and slim woman but in europe they r doing this to extreme causing eating disorders and depression.
an example of healthy catwalks is southamerican ...
fashion is art, is a expression of us, human beings .

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18-10-2005
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On the flip side though, the fashion industry does do its bit to promote ehtical issues which need to be addressed. Take the Keneth Cole advertisment campaigns promoting the use of condoms, or the super model endorsed Peta adverts (even if a few of them have gone back on their word anfd have accepted fur-wearing campaigns) Or what about the promotion of fair trade fashion? Or what about Stella McCartney promoting vegitarian clothes and shoes.
Mu point is that its one sided to state that fashion only plays advocate for the worst in us all, it can also bring out the best. Fashion used as a form of expression cannot be censored. To say that the designers have a responsibilty to set the standard is niave. Who are they to judge anyone? People would still use clothes for expression. You cannot say that someone dressed a goth (see The Crow or most pubs in Camden on a Friday night!) is being badly influenced by their clothing. They are using their clothing as a way of saying "I belong to this social group"
Fashion does not just exist soley within the realms of big name houses and brands.
As to fashion and eating disorders, its a common misconception that its directly responsible. These models all have to e one size, a label or whoever does not have time to personally fit an alter the clothes to every model. Its a shame that this has been taken too far by some. But people with eating disorders often have other issues such as control and depression, fashion is not the sole reason for inducing a disorders. And I speak from direct personal experience. There's always more to it than just wanting to look like the girls in the magazines. But I don;t want to turn this thread into an eating disorder debate.
Mu point is that fashion is not a dictatorship. We live in a civilised socirty and are capable of making up our own minds for ourselves.

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18-10-2005
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I don't feel fashion has a role as a dictatorship but it does have a role. Any industry that has such a heavy hand in image making has a certain responsibility in what image they make. This is from artists to fashion to the news. Galliano for example may have meant only positive things with his S/S 06 show but there are people who were offended by his patronizing display. Is this something Galliano is even aware of? If he meant well should any negative effects be then overlooked? I don't know the answer to this.

As far as models and weight go I am not saying the use of uber thin models is bad. I am saying the effects of this are and that designers can take some responsibiity for this...and some do. When designers send models down the runway they pick the clothes but they also pick the bodies. They set body trends as well as clothing ones. I can't remember the exact numbers but the average model represented about 80% of the female population in the U.S. in 1980. Now that number has gone higher than 90%. I will find the exact data.

As far as animal rights go fashion is their worst enemy. Whether you care about animals or not the idea that opulence and luxury or even good design should be acheived through the horrifc death of a living creature is a disturbing idea. Designers like Stella don't use fur or leather but they are rare. We consider designers labels Commes Des Garcons and Anne Demuelmeester to be modern and progressive but how modern is wearing dead animal flesh?

There are various other issues with fashion I am not saying they are bad or good but merely they happen. Should that responsibilty be taken on by the fashion industry? I don't even know if it can. Imagine if Galliano stopped using fur...or even...put women in dresses that didn't make a man want to f*ck them. I am not placing blame only responsibility. I am not trying to determine if fashion is wrong or right but more of how far it's effects go and if that is willing to be recognized and even changed.

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18-10-2005
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I think that it is an interesting issue that you raise and one that is not easily (or simply) answered.

On the one hand, I would say that because designers don't live in a vaccuum, but instead design in a real world, that they are inevitably responsible for their designs or for the images that come from those designs.

On the other hand, one must also see that a designer ought to be somewhat "pure" with their art. When I say "pure" I mean simply that he/she keeps focused most clearly on DESIGNING what he/she feels or what his/her mind sees as the best design that he/she can do. To be honest, when a designer becomes too focused on responsibility issues, or social issues, or any type of issue NOT related to fashion, the design itself suffers. It is no longer purely the designer's mind's (or heart's) vision of design but is instead mixed with a lot of conceptual or so-called "important" issues. The reason is that focusing on such issues is certainly important in its own right, but important issues don't necessarily make for GOOD fashion. I think that this is often missed and rides that fine line between a good, conscientious fashion show and one that is merely gimmicky or a bit "too much." In short, are you a social activist or a clothing designer? I'm not so sure that one can be good at both.

So, in all, I'm not sure where that line actually exists between a designer's responsibility, or consciousness of his responsibility, and his/her own art. I would like to say that he/she doesn't focus at all on what people will say or what images MIGHT come from his/her art, but instead simply focuses on what he/she wants most to portray. But, again, no designer lives in a vaccuum

John

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18-10-2005
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Everything Fashion Puss said.

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18-10-2005
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rach2jlc
On the other hand, one must also see that a designer ought to be somewhat "pure" with their art. When I say "pure" I mean simply that he/she keeps focused most clearly on DESIGNING what he/she feels or what his/her mind sees as the best design that he/she can do. To be honest, when a designer becomes too focused on responsibility issues, or social issues, or any type of issue NOT related to fashion, the design itself suffers. It is no longer purely the designer's mind's (or heart's) vision of design but is instead mixed with a lot of conceptual or so-called "important" issues. The reason is that focusing on such issues is certainly important in its own right, but important issues don't necessarily make for GOOD fashion.
Do you really think that design suffers when a designer focuses on issues such as animal rights and body image? Design suffers when a designer becomes too focused on boosting sales and makes his/her collection too commercial. Similarly, design suffers because so many designers sell to conglomerates. But I hardly think design suffers if a designer decides not to use fur in their collection.
I think it's obvious that designers hold responsibility for what message they send to the public. It's naïve to think they don't. Who then would bear the responsibility for violating animal rights or sending other morally debatable messages. In the same way every consumer is responsible for their decisions- whether or not to buy fur/leather, whether or not to support the views of a designer such as Galliano (about women, use of exoticism etc).

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18-10-2005
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I wasn't intending to discuss specific issues, as you mentioned, but in general, anytime that a designer focuses on ANYTHING outside of what he/she has in mind to design, his/her design would have to suffer for it.

What I mean is this: if a designer has an idea for what s/he feels to be the greatest coat that s/he has ever made, but that it is made of some type of fur, the design of that coat would necessarily suffer from NOT using that type of fur because of outside, conceptual issues. Whether or not it would be "right" of h/er to make the coat differently is irrelevant; the design that s/he has in mind for that coat is going to suffer because it is no longer h/er "pure" vision. In short, an individuals design suffers because s/he is not making what s/he feels to be the greatest/best thing that s/he "sees" or "feels" in h/er mind.

John


Last edited by rach2jlc; 18-10-2005 at 07:28 PM.
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18-10-2005
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[quote=Mutterlein]
I can't remember the exact numbers but the average model represented about 80% of the female population in the U.S. in 1980. Now that number has gone higher than 90%. I will find the exact data. [quote=Mutterlein]

I don't mean this as an attack to your quote but I have just taken one fashion class and it said that models is in the upper 10% of the average height and the lower 5% in weight.... basically, they are too tall and too skinny and US average size is 12.

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18-10-2005
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I think being animal and enviornmentally friendly are very important and I wish more designers would considerd these.

I don't believe fashion is pushing 'unhealthy body trends' to the masses. I think they are pushing an ideal of beauty that is unrealistic to most people. But why have models then , they are suposed to creat an allure in order to get people to aspire to buy clothes. Any ways I think people need to be more responsible for their bodies and their minds and not try to blame fashion or movie stars for their issues.

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19-10-2005
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[QUOTE=Vintage_Celle][quote=Mutterlein]
I can't remember the exact numbers but the average model represented about 80% of the female population in the U.S. in 1980. Now that number has gone higher than 90%. I will find the exact data.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mutterlein

I don't mean this as an attack to your quote but I have just taken one fashion class and it said that models is in the upper 10% of the average height and the lower 5% in weight.... basically, they are too tall and too skinny and US average size is 12.

not actually you are supporting what I am saying. When I said 80% I meant 20 and when I said 90 I meant 10. Thanks lol.

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04-12-2005
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Ethical designer fashion?
You know, since we have a thread on fair trade and a new thread on Noir (who seem to be socially conscious) I was just wondering: Is it time for designers to finally start producing more ethically sound collections? It would certainly bring a lot of publicity and goodwill to the companies that would pioneer a switch. Imagine if a label like Prada, Versace or Chanel would start producing their collections ethically, the impact could be huge.

Would it work? Would the quality of the materials be good enough? Would it be a lot more expensive? Is there a large enough production of high quality raw materials to support a general switch? And are the materials used today really that "immoral" to begin with?

And most importantly, do consumers want this? Do they really care? I doubt that hardcore Greenpeace members would run to Gucci or Chanel en masse if their collections were sounder, but maybe someone considering Valentino would sway towards Chanel? Is "ethical" a real selling point in the real world?

Do we really care?

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04-12-2005
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not a luxe client myself, so i cant really talk on their behalf but IF i was, yes, it would certainly care..
*Lagerfeld strangely has some 'moral' issues which he supports via Chanel Couture, he's responsible for saving a good number of Parisian Haute Couture ateliers, from going bankrupt. Not sure how exactly he did this, maybe by sponsoring, but anyway, i find this the best move he ever did.
*Xully Bet helped African weavers by using african cotton produced locally in Africa and many more French designers have been helping out third word production while using great local qualities.

Unfortunately the big players (i wont say Prada or Gucci) keep moving production away from Europe, leaving workers jobless, factories and ateliers closed all over the continent

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04-12-2005
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what is the definishion of ethics ?, and by what standard do you now judge these companies production methods to deem it more or less unethical ?.

Historically ethics by whatever definition it has, is largely based on the traditions and history of a given society.
we all know that this varies from continent to continent, country to country etc.

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