A primal instinct

Polimoda rediscovers the essence of research in fashion and education


Read more

Fashion is a constellation of the human, society and industry; three elements characterised by constant evolution and thus define the very nature of fashion, which is change. Faster than ever, fashion is changing under the influence of two main forces: the market-driven system and technology.

The first explains the necessity to cope with the demands of a system working to please the market, which stimulates the development of new tools to constantly whet the appetite of the public. Tricks with styling and media and endless newsfeeds devoid of value are meant to, as Noam Chomsky puts it, “create uninformed consumers who will make irrational choices” and thus maintain a consumerist society based on [over]exposure, [over]consumption and [over]production. In this context, fashion as a social phenomenon is [over] and considered only as an economically viable enterprise to be exploited at the benefit of the market.

The second force influencing fashion at this moment is the power of technological advancements. 3D printing and wearable technology have become an integral part of today’s fashion scene and altered the way we produce, dress and interact within the industry. As relevant and ubiquitous as it is today, technology gives us a unique opportunity to extend our body and mind but does not substitute the essence of humans – our instincts and emotions – as it’s only the means though not the substance.

Fashion is a primal form of human expression; it articulates our body while articulating our identity, adding layers of meaning.

Silvia Tolaro, Polimoda Research Hub

Almanac - Research Hub - silvia eyes

Lamenting the way things are evolving makes little sense but we cannot ignore the fact that by prioritising form over content and by paying little attention to the essential element – the human – fashion has reduced itself to become shallow decoration for entertainment and sales. The system’s status-quo, however, can be challenged by creating disruptive contents [revolution] and by teaching people how to develop their human side [evolution]. Research and education focusing on the individual are thereby the drivers that could bring a positive change to the fashion system.

[…] during the beginning of the 2000s with the aggravation of years of financial crisis, this sector gave its worst. Leather goods turned into leather bads, fashion weeks into fashion weaks, apparel into [appear]elle, and [lux]ury into [lack]sury or [obsc]ury. The result of this general commoditisation was that the system saved itself in terms of cash flow but totally undermined its symbolic capital; the vital lymph of creativity, the healthy liaison between human, society and industry.

Danilo Venturi, Momenting the Memento

Almanac - Research Hub - silvia mouth

Research is, first of all, important for humans. What defines us as human beings is the capacity to speak, think and reason. Research should therefore be seen as a primal instinct. It keeps us alive, feeds us and unites us. […] As soon as we admit to ourselves that we have forgotten what keeps us alive, we will experience a death of the current abstract intellectualism, fragile cultural and voyeuristic nostalgia, hedonistic escapes and aesthetic hallucinations. The time of the liquid, hyperreal, hyper-individual and instantaneous is over. We will no longer be able to resist the seductiveness of the “Real Thing”.

Silvia Tolaro

Almanac - Research Hub - silvia library

IFFTI Conference 2015

In May 2015, Polimoda as an independent opinion maker hosted 46 members of IFFTI, International Foundation of Fashion Technology Institutes, in Florence for a five-day conference under the theme Momenting the Memento, developed by Danilo Venturi in his book of the same title.

The aim is to generate the unexpected, to conjure the unprecedented, to make an error; a reckless statement today that can be a flagship of tomorrow.

Danilo Venturi

International professionals, academics, researchers, visionaries and students, from the fields of fashion and design, sociology and science, philosophy and writing, architecture and art gathered to share ideas and projects. Scattered across the Renaissance city in panel discussions, workshops, installations, written paper presentations and performances, this event proclaimed a symbolic rebirth of fashion.

Momenting the Memento outlined key Polimoda values; the absence of glamour, reality, a focus on content, returning to what really counts – the body and mind. What differentiates Polimoda from other Institutes is its capacity to create disruptive content and the ability to grow students as human beings to make them become what they are. From the necessity to invest in these qualities arose the project, the Polimoda Research Hub.

Polimoda Research Hub

In this historical moment, characterised by an intellectual stasis and lack of content creation, due to the constant exposure to mediated and deviated empty information, Polimoda should be the institute that will rediscover the essence of research.

Silvia Tolaro

As outlined by the Research Hub manifesto, the vision is simply research, devoid of abstract intellectualism, as research is indeed a basic instinct capable of feeding us and uniting us as human beings. The mission of the project is to create innovative content to nurture Polimoda students and professors, and to connect Polimoda to other institutes and visionaries through collaboration.

Time has come to stop reading and start writing, to eroticise intelligence and make it seminal, to paint it white and leave traces on the wall.

Danilo Venturi

This article is an excerpt from Polimoda’s long-form publication Almanac, an expanded catalogue where courses and content collide to offer a comprehensive compendium of all things Polimoda. From interviews with cutting edge designers to essays on the future of fashion, we will be featuring a selection of the Almanac’s most interesting visual and reading material on our journal.