Shah, Karen (2014) Beyond Hegemonic Dress: Reclaiming Localised Fashion Design Practices. In: 3rd International (Non)Western Fashion Conference The Global Politics of Fashion, 22-23 November 2014, Hong Kong University, Hong Kong.

Hegemony as a prevailing force, with the power to restrict and control, is prevalent in all areas of our lives. When applied to the body it is manifest in both our inner and outer selves, with the clothes that we shroud it in being representations of dominant modes of design, manufacture and consumption. Hegemonic dress in this context is positioned within a set of ideals, legitimate or not; logical or not, that result in one dominant mode/style taking centre stage. Reaction and resistant to these dominant ideological and practical modes of production can be both subtle and explicit and it is the aim of this paper to discuss alternative and activist approaches to the production of clothes as a way of moving beyond hegemonic dress. Key to this is the extent to which methods of production and consumption can be more sustainable in their execution and feed into models of social equity. To become more sustainable and less hegemonic, it is argued, that we need to question existing modes of production and reclaim local design practices as a way of bringing about greater autonomy over what we are able to put on our bodies. To live in a global, predominantly capitalist, world, is to be constantly aware of how our lives and histories merge and this in turn impacts upon our identities as fashion designers, consumers and global citizens. Thus by analysing the relationship of objects to global processes, and those subsequently conceived in a local studio environment, we are able to comment on the value of social enterprise initiatives and approaches to design activism. To this aim reflection on the authors approach to design and the shaping of ‘fashion’ inspired objects with be provided together with an investigation into how models of development have relevance to both our global and local selves. Taking a practitioner approach to research it will discuss theories relating to aspects of liquid modernity and global identities and show how objects can become personalised and lead to a transformation of self. Analysing along the way the trajectory of materials borne of a global context and reshaped within a local context.

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