Fashion and Me – Visualising our Love Affair…

One of the outputs we are expected to provide as part of the inductive, exploratory ‘concept development‘ half of this module, is a FASHION FOCUS BOARD, visually signifying our intentions for our FMP.  In order to get in some practise for this, and as part of the process of exploding our ideas we were set the challenge of developing and translating our initial WHAT DO I LOVE ABOUT FASHION mind map into a tactile visual to be presented at our first WORK IN PROGRESS on the 11th of February. The aim of this WIP is to present a reflection of last term’s work through a series of SWOT analyses, whilst making use of this WHAT DO I LOVE ABOUT FASHION MIND MAP to communicate an impression of how I believe this term’s research journey will play out. I say ‘impression’ because, as is expected at this early inductive stage of the research process leading up to the formation of my research question, my thinking and ideas are still relatively abstracted and unresolved.

My WHAT DO I LOVE ABOUT FASHION MIND MAP consists of two parts; a central infographic visually communicating and signifying the chaos of the idea vomit which emerged when I initially exploded my ideas in the DECONSTRUCT to CONSTRUCT WORKSHOP, surrounded by 6 distinct areas presenting a somewhat initial resolution and structuring of this chaos, which I know will come to inform my 7003 research journey and underpin my FMP in one way or another.  However, it was also my intention to maintain this chaos to a degree to ensure my creative thought process at this stage of the research process is not constrained by a rigid  structure. This accounts for the variety and volume of images present on my mind map (which I was forced to layer on top of one another, SHHH…)

My ‘Idea Vomit’ Infographic – developing my visual communication skills. 

A an FPI Student, one of my central objectives for this term is to develop my visual communication skills; a skill considered increasingly necessary to professional practise within the creative industries both internally to communicate ideas and externally to engage with consumers.  With our eyes the most powerful weapon we have to make sense of the world around us, humans are incredibly visual beings. Unsurprisingly research has shown that the visualisation of information through the use of infographics greatly enhances our understanding and retention of information, through presenting data more efficiently in an exciting and stimulating way. Simply the complex process of transforming content and imagery into a synthesised visual, will be incredibly valuable to developing the quality of my creative communication.

The ‘Idea Vomit’ Infographic is the final product of the ‘WHAT I LOVE ABOUT FASHION’ brainstorm I created during the DECONSTRUCT to CONSTRUCT workshop.  The main visual hook of this infographic was the presentation of this brainstorm in the form of an explosion to signify the deconstruction this incredibly broad question was expected to trigger – aka. CHAOS.  This chaos is something not only expected but necessary to the initial inductive stages of any creative research process in order to stimulate creative thinking and generate an array of valuable ideas which have the potential to be taken forward. Additional visual cues included the use of colour coding to categorise these initial interests into brands, themes, creative research and practise, and consumers and markets; all central components of the fashion industry that any fashion-focused research must consider.  Ultimately, this infographic, as a collection of abstracted buzzwords, is the unresolved foundation of the mind-map I will create underpinning my research question.

WHAT I LOVE ABOUT FASHION Focus Board…

The rest of my board imposes structure on this central infographic through categorising my interests into 6 distinct areas.

1. Themes  – All the images present in this section signify themes underpinning my central interests of Fashion without Boundaries and developing freedom of self-expression for the high-street consumer. These include couture quality, craftsmanship, authenticity, individuality, digital detox, customisation, power/empowerment, consumer-product relations, postmodernity, post-essentialism, disability, co-design, participatory design, democratic fashion, slow fashion, sustainability…

Whilst they may seem discordant on the surface, these are all themes I wish to marry initially through this modules research outcomes and ultimately through the brand I plan to craft for my FMP.

Themes Pinterest Board

2. Imaging – I decided to apply for FPI rather than FMM because of the creative potential this side of the course offered. In the fashion industry imaging is the core manifestation of creative expression, and has been dominantly used to build narrative and meaning around products to promote them since the mid twentieth century.  My board presents the style of imaging which inspires me, predominantly from publications including Marie Claire Runway, The Sunday Times Style Magazine, Love and ID. Mirroring my themes, I am interested in images which intrigue and excite me, either through pushing the boundaries of expectations/normality or embedding a product within a strong impenetrable narrative. This is why I relate so much to the loaded, question-posing style of Guy Bourdin (whose Somerset House ‘image-maker’ exhibition will be extensively documented through this blog). I want to dedicate a significant component of this module to imagery; both conducting an extensive semiotic analysis of images that catch my eye, as well as generating my own imagery to develop a distinct creative identity which I can take forward in a promotional strategy for my FMP.

Imaging Inspiration Pinterest Board…

3. Creative Design – Again, as an FPI student i am not just interested in the content of my research, but the myriad of forms in which it can be presented and communicated. This was an interest stimulated by the variety of outputs we were expected to produce last term, which including a promotional imaging strategy lookbook, an infographic and a trend report. As with everything fashion, a core skill is constructing and projecting the right image through which to promote your commodity; something creative design skills are integral to. I personally find that the use of colour can be extremely powerful.  In terms of sourcing inspiration for colour palettes, I am a lover of nature and art (see my TURNER TONES post).  I am additionally constantly making use of a pinterest board developed from last terms research where I am collating both branding inspiration and aspirational infographics, in preparation for my FMP.  Although my CV itself is not directly relevant to this module and lies within the realms of 7004, like everything within the fashion industry it is a document designed to sell. Consequently it’s design has additionally made use of these principles…

Creative Design Pinterest Boards…

4. Visual Merchandising, Branding and the Magazine Industry 

Although this blog is not designed to specifically reference 7004, the question ‘what I love about fashion’ cannot avoid referencing future career interests, particularly since this is what this masters is generally expected to fulfill. As a relative newcomer to the industry, I have not got to grips with the variety of roles on offer. However, from my knowledge and past experience I know I would be both interested in and well suited to both in-store visual merchandising and art direction.  I am particularly interested in visual merchandising due to my fascination with the theme of consumer-product engagement, believing that the dynamics of a retail space and the retail experience has the potential to play a significant role in cultivating a more significant relationship between the consumer and the clothing they purchase (ie. customisation), particularly in the context of Flagships. Interest in Art direction, branding and the magazine industry mirrors my interests in promotion, imaging and creative design (ie. layouts).

5. Brands

I am fascinated by a multitude of brands, both high-end and highstreet, for a variety of reasons which again mimic my themes.  For example, in the context of high-end, I am in awe of the product quality and craftsmanship, alongside the highly creative visual merchandising characteristic of this style of retail experience.  There are additionally particular designers I strongly relate to.  These normally revolve around those practitioners, with a strong creative identity, who utilise the transformative power of fashion to push the boundaries of not only the industry, but culture and society, including Jean Paul Gaultier, Henry Holland and JW Anderson.  In terms of the high-street there are particular brands such as UNIQLO in their ethos of democratic design, which appears to create and promote new discourses challenging the dominant fast fashion model.  I am additionally intrigued by TOPSHOP’s hold over the fashion-forward youth market.

6. Consumers and Markets.

Highstreet…London…the postmodern fashion consumer – these are the three areas any research I conduct or themes I explore will be catered towards. The creation of an innovative high-street model outside of the current warehouse experience of fast-fashion is reliant on a market which craves creativity, difference and exposure to new experiences – regionally this is London and demographically this is an activist youth culture.  The creativity, individuality and diverse range of expression which manifests in the capital’s street-style is enough to make this instantly clear.

London Streetstyle Pinterest Board…

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