Fashion Archives = Outlet negative space

Hype This!

It’s a familiar phrase when a new designer takes over: “I visited the fashion archives for a source of inspiration.” Whether at Diesel, or Gucci, it’s a bit odd to look backward to guide a forward-looking industry.

Studying the success of the past is a generally accepted way to build for the future. However, I might suggest a more subtle, cheaper, dare I say “avant-garder” method of understanding the past: Taking a trip to the Outlets! …and studying it for what it is not. The off-price channel provides a treasure trove of failed collections and designs from seasons past, all at discounts of up to 80% + an additional 30% when you sign up as a VIP member.

Like an archaeologist learning a lost culture by studying its remains, designers can dig through bins of broken sizes and odd assortments to find that perfect dress for next week’s party and ruminate on the disproportionate amount of bold prints, large logo-laden bags, and XXL shirts. Then as a creative exercise, imagine the inverse. And we all know how hard that is.

I think fashion designers ignore the powerfully suggestive theoretical aspects of negative fashion space. Like a Gordon Matta-Clark’s “Food” or Yves Klein’s, La spécialisation de la sensibilité à l’état matière première en sensibilité picturale stabilisée: Le Vide (The Specialization of Sensibility in the Raw Material State into Stabilized Pictorial Sensibility: The Void), you are transfixed by what is not there. In its absence, a new style emerges.

Gordon Matta-Clark's Food
Gordon Matta-Clark’s Food
Yves-klein, and the absence of art
Yves-klein, and the absence of art


Or they can continue to explore negative space, and voids with full-body cut-outs:

Jaimie Alexander at the Thor premier
Jaimie Alexander at the Thor premier


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