4th International NWFashionConference
Local Fashion Communities
University of Antwerp, Belgium
24-26 November 2016

A forum to explore fashion systems around the world. Fashion can be an important engine in the environmentally, culturally and economical sustainable development of communities with the potential to be a crucial element in the cultural ecosystem that nourishes identity formation. As central theme of this academic conference, we would like to explore the contribution of small and medium fashion companies to the sustainable development of their local communities. As in the UNESCO Convention on Cultural Diversity from 2005, we consider cultural diversity, and thus fashion systems, not only as a side effect, but also as an engine in sustainable development. Moreover, we consider fashion as an economic ecosystem in which designers play a crucial role. Nonetheless, designers are all too often only a fragment of an extended value chain, from producer to consumer, that reflects a multi-trillion dollar industry employing an estimated 26 million people globally (Hines & Bruce 2007). This economic ecosystem operates both globally and locally according to its own dominant logics. Nonetheless, in the current western-dominant fashion system, a few powerhouses have managed to install a race to the bottom in which excrescences such as inhumane labor circumstances, mass consumerism and disposable fashion are egregious side-effects.

Keynote, Friday November 25th
The unfashionable foot: people planet and science
by dr. Catherine Willems
(School of Arts Gent, KASK, Hogent)