Freelance fashion researcher Renee van der Hoek, MA Fashion Curation Alumni, talks about her experience working on the fashion exhibition the State of Fashion 2018.
This year marks my 5th year as a freelance fashion researcher and early career curator since graduating with distinction from MA Fashion Curation at London College of Fashion in 2013, a course that provided me with skills and laid the foundation for my current practice.
The New Imaginations theme showed work of game changers such as Iris van Herpen and VIN+OMI. Image: Eva Broekema
Since then I’ve had the opportunity to write for independent fashion magazines such as Press & Fold and Monument, whilst also working as fashion researcher on several exhibitions here in the Netherlands. The last major exhibition I worked on and still continue to work for the platform itself is State of Fashion. This time last year I got the opportunity to work as the assistant curator at State of Fashion alongside curator José Teunissen (besides her work as an independent fashion curator she’s the Dean of the School of Design and Technology at London College of Fashion (UAL) and Professor of Fashion Theory).
The Interdisciplinary approaches theme showed new and innovative materials such as pineapple leather and AlgaeFabrics. Image: Eva Broekema
State of Fashion
To briefly introduce State of Fashion, it’s the successor of the critically acclaimed Arnhem Mode Biennale (2005-2013) and was created to perpetuate its international reputation. State of Fashion is a platform that literally investigates the ‘state of fashion’ and addresses current topics that must be on the agenda of designers and companies, as well as NGOs, researchers, educational institutions and governments. State of Fashion serves as a ‘safe space for dangerous ideas’. We want to inspire, unleash discussions and provide a stage for the disrupters and changemakers within the industry and beyond. Together we focus on the power of collaboration to create a more resilient, sustainable and inclusive industry.
Image: Eva Broekema
The first edition of State of Fashion, dubbed searching for the new luxury, took place from June 1st until July 22nd. For the exhibition narrative José Teunissen started a quest for a sustainable future for the fashion industry. When I joined the team José had formed the framework of the exhibition, dividing it into 5 themes: New Imaginations, The Product and the Maker in the Spotlight, New business Models, Fashion Design for a Better World and Interdisciplinary Approaches. At that time the actual objects to illustrate the narrative had yet to be chosen. I had the opportunity to closely work together with José on the realisation of the exhibition. This process was a significant learning experience for me as I felt José and the team trusted me and gave me every opportunity to contribute and leave my mark. All the hard work resulted in an exhibition in which we displayed the work of around 50 designers, brands, projects, and initiatives. All focused on possible solutions to change the industry for the better, from innovative materials, transparent business models to designers shaking up the system. Working on this exhibition also changed my own patterns as a consumer as I can honestly say I’m brainwashed by all the facts I’ve learned when researching for and writing the exhibition texts and catalogue
Bethany Williams and me on stage during our 9th whataboutery, discussing the power of collaboration and social responsibility. Image: Getty Images
Since the exhibition in Arnhem closed we have had the opportunity to go on ‘tour’ to continue the search for the new luxury by organising events and talks, our so-called ‘Whataboutery’. This series of talks aims to open up the conversation on the challenges that are part of producing sustainable and honest fashion as every potential solution raises new questions: ‘but what about…?’.
So what’s next? At State of Fashion we continue to spread our message and including audiences by organising or participating in talks, events and other exciting opportunities. Please visit Stateoffashion.org to see what we’re doing next or read our digital catalogue of the exhibition in Arnhem here.
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