Opinion / From Kebabs to Dating Apps
If you weren’t one of the lucky ones sunning yourself on the Croisette in Cannes the other week, an alternative place to see some fantastic creative thinking was the London College of Fashion. (The coffee’s a lot cheaper too).
I was over there as the MA Fashion Media Production students showcased final project work on the Digital Concept & Strategy course. The work relating (in part) to their interpretations of a trends study based around ‘Connectivity / Mobility / Circularity / Experiences / Scepticism’.
Their initial interpretations of these key trends referenced issues such as customisation, mindfulness, the sharing economy, experiential activity, provenance, etc. By the time their finished ideas were developed, they were creatively stunning – and ranged from subversive dating apps to films referencing kebab shop culture to exposing everyday sustainability issues.
I asked the course leader, Nilgin Yusuf, what she was intending when she set the course up. ‘MA Fashion Media Production came about as a response to changes in the fashion industry. The seismic shifts that reverberated through fashion’s post online revolution caused almost every aspect of fashion production and consumption to change. Therefore its mediators needed to change and become more fluid, open and aware of what technology makes possible.’
‘So, somewhere like the LCF, which is closely aligned to an industry, must keep evolving to maintain its relevance to both students and fashion. Making and running MA Fashion Media Production is one of the most creative things I have ever achieved, and is, as far as I’m aware, the only fashion masters course of its kind that sets the area of fashion communication into the context of digital culture. While there already exists in the media programme, strong and established single discipline subjects such as Photography and Journalism, MA Fashion Media Production is a multi-disciplinary offer that absorbs and cross-pollinates a number of different disciplines.’
I asked one of the students, Dino Bonacic about his background. ‘Although fashion was a constant in my life, it wasn't always my primary choice. I was a professional dancer, went to a language-based high-school, and later studied for a BA in Media Studies and Journalism in my hometown Zagreb, Croatia. I started to physically manifest my love of style, clothes, imagery and the history behind all of them back in 2011 when I started my personal blog called Style Brick Road which later landed me an internship and a job in the Croatian edition of Elle Magazine where I worked during my studies.’
Sustainability was the key issue approached by Dino in his ‘Confessions Of a White T-shirt’ (COWT) project. ‘The dialogue between fashion and sustainability is mostly revolving around changing the ways of producing clothes, but what about modifying the ways of using them? COWT is a film series of monologues that question emotions and feelings behind a single item of clothing. Remember – 2,700 litres of fresh water are needed to produce just another white t-shirt. Are you getting a new one?’
Exploring the natural senses being present in digital technology was a key issue for student Jantamas Nilodom: ‘Before I started the course, I studied in architecture for three years and then shifted to fashion design. I wonder if it’s possible for digital to create sensations that are equal to those in nature? I’ve researched ‘glitche art’ re: digital errors and unpredictability, and made a trial installation that showed the perfect image of a necklace that when you touch it showed an error effect to it.’
Storytelling was a key issue for Anna Boatella (a graphic designer from Barcelona) who said her project was ‘a platform for people to share and learn from others experiences through clothes. Exploring emotional design and seeing how objects are more than material things as we put meaning on them; so we can tell our stories and bring back memories.’
Another project (and believe me – you’ve got to watch the videos) saw Flaminia Vannozzi as the star of a series of short films produced under a creative-concept titled ‘Swiped’ where a team of students explored the issue of technology and identity re: online dating. Their project saw them make short, funny documentary-style videos, then create & develop a social media presence to help their video go viral. The aim being to represent the contrast between on-line interaction through dating apps and face-to-face real time interaction.
To do so, Video 1 explored & revealed the experiences of various Tinder users; whilst Video 2 showed an inside professional perspective of the dating app world, via an interview with programmer 3nder. Video 3 showed the contrast between online and real-life communication while reversing gender roles i.e. via Flaminia approaching male subjects in the street with Tinder-based pick-up lines, and used hidden cameras to get their authentic reactions. Finally they set up social media accounts on Twitter / Facebook / Instagram + YouTube under the name @SwipedLondon backed with hashtags including #SwipedLondon #herewego #boysvsgirls #pickuplines #comingsoon.
Back to course leader, Nilgin Yusuf: ‘When the course was just words on paper, it felt very new in education and a bit of a shot in the dark. But the applications poured in and there’s clearly a strong demand. To have been part of making a creative space where all of these incredible individuals arrive to make something happen is a both a privilege and a pleasure. Media Production students have certain qualities: they’re generally dynamic, hard-working, highly collaborative and work well with different people. They go on to make excellent project managers, creative directors, marketing managers, film-makers and producers or set up their own agencies. We’re soon to have our first alumni event. I’m incredibly proud of the graduates from this course and all that they’ve achieved. They’re the future!’
Additional links to Digital Concept and Strategy student work:
Jiha im ‘Mr Freak’s Ordinary Days’
Li Yu Yang ‘Call Fashion In’