The Present Future in Fashion Design: the Archive as a Tool for Anticipation

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The article discusses the anticipatory ability of fashion products, focusing on the processual dimension of fashion design practice and its anticipatory tools rather than on the contents of the anticipation per se. Through the analysis of virtuous cases, a singular tool, the archive, while formerly born to preserve the past and transfer the memory, now reveals itself as an agent capable of rebuilding and activating company’s and/or designer’s know-how, therefore becoming a driving force of innovation. ZoneModa Journal, Issue 6 “Possible Futures”

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Purpose By considering the role of technology in museum archives and exhibitions, as well as company archives and production, this paper aims to present that digital technologies offer new approaches and tools to consider fashion know-how, traditions and memories. Design/methodology/approach Through an extensive literature review and a close consideration of multiple sources, this paper analyzes fashion, tradition and knowledge creation through the lens of museum and company archives. A section on museum archives analyzes the role of fashion in the museum and the use of technology in cataloging, online resources and exhibitions for knowledge transfer of fashion history. The second half of the paper considers the relationship between heritage, company archives and technology in branding and consumer engagement. Findings The paper summarizes recent scholarship in the fields of fashion archives and demonstrates the still current importance of heritage in generating new design and exhibition practices. Despite having its roots in the past, heritage demonstrates continuity with the present and looks to the future with the same devotion and commitment, thus guaranteeing quality and authenticity for both museum collections and company productions. Originality/value Through a case study methodology, this paper presents how digital technologies can offer new approaches and tools in museum archives and exhibitions, as well as in company archives and collection development, to reconsider and translate fashion know-how, traditions and memories in the digital era.
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