Fashion Colloquium: Searching for the New Luxury  

 Conference organiser: ArtEZ University of the Arts, in collaboration with State of Fashion

Academic partners: Wageningen University & Research, Radboud University Nijmegen


Fashion Colloquium: Searching for the New Luxury
May 31 – June 1, 2018 in Arnhem, The Netherlands

Scientific committee
  • José Teunissen, Professor, London College of Fashion, State of Fashion
  • Danielle Bruggeman, Professor of Fashion, ArtEZ University of the Arts
  • Kim Poldner, Professor of Entrepreneurship, Wageningen University & Research
  • Anneke Smelik, Professor of Visual Culture, Radboud University Nijmegen
  • Ian King, Professor, London College of Fashion and University of the Arts, London

‘Searching for the New Luxury’ will explore new definitions of ‘luxury’ against the backdrop of urgent environmental and social issues: less waste and less pollution, more equality, well-being, and inclusivity. We believe the world needs fearless imagination and experimentation to survive in order to get into tune with society again. The ‘new luxury’ faces a new world and fashion reality that addresses ethics, inclusivity and responsible consumerism expressed by a new imagination that connects us to the world by expressing these new values in a different and engaging way. We are asking for contributions that challenge our perceptions – that move our field forward.

Conference theme

It is increasingly urgent to create interventions in the current fashion system and to redefine its meaning and relevance. The ‘Fashion Colloquium: Searching for the New Luxury’ will explore how to transition to a more resilient, inclusive and regenerative future of fashion. Re-generative societies can be viewed as holistic self-sustaining and self-designing ecosystems – a form of biomimicry and thus ‘innovation inspired by nature’ (Benyus 2009). The critical word here is ‘abundance’: mimicking natural systems that enable us to focus on what is possible instead of being restrained by how we should reduce our negative impact on the planet. From working against the earth, this paradigm shift entails a transition to an engaged collaboration with the earth and its abundant resources. The ‘Fashion Colloquium: Searching for the New Luxury’ will critically reflect on how this affects the meaning of ‘luxury’ in contemporary culture and society. New (bio-)technologies, digital platforms and manufacturing processes are already being explored for their potential to overturn conventional concepts of luxury and set a more responsible agenda for the future of the industry. It is increasingly urgent to design with a purpose (Brismar 2015) and to envision a more responsible and ethical engagement with material objects that surround our bodies and living spaces. The world needs imagination and experimentation in order to develop a new kind of aesthetics and connectivity (Margolin 2007). Not just in the design of new textiles, materials and artefacts, but also in the crafting of radical new business models and forms of organization (King 2013). Aesthetics is essential to sustainability since ‘the aesthetic experience can lead to an emotional connection between object and subject, which creates a bond’ (Harper 2012). Therefore, aesthetics – in particular the imaginary power of fashion – is crucial in order to design for ‘emotional durability’ (Chapman 2009). We need more critical fashion practices and critical theories to “fashion” a more ethical, inclusive and responsible reality – expressed by an imagination that connects us to the world by conveying these new values in an engaging way. And we are looking for interventions and ‘objects that almost become a new category of objects’ (Sudjic 2008: 57). The ‘Fashion Colloquium: Searching for the New Luxury’ thus underlines the importance of redefining value systems – starting from our own fundamental human values.

We believe in the interaction between theoretical research and practice-based research and strongly welcome contributions from both academics and (fashion) practitioners, including MA and PhD students. Research through creative practices – artistic research and design research –  will help to raise new questions, to provoke, and to develop new insights. In addition to traditional paper sessions, we thus invite creative practitioners to send in proposals for performances, film showings, participatory panel discussions or other creative interventions.


We welcome contributions related to the following subthemes:

  • New materials, living materials, biomimicry, biotechnologies
  • Strategies to design for closed loops; innovation, novel business models and different types of value chains
  • Emotional connectivity, aesthetic sustainability, emotional durability
  • The role of purpose in moving beyond economic value, towards human values, ethical values, emotional values, social values and cultural values
  • The importance of agency; embodied subjectivity, ethical subjectivity and material agency
  • Developing a new kind of aesthetics, with a special role for all the senses
  • Fashion’s power to create desire and imaginary worlds in order to transition into a more regenerative future society
  • The role of resilience in fashion and design
  • Other innovations that challenge our understanding of ‘new luxury’
Call for Abstracts

We invite abstracts (to be developed into full papers after selection) related to the conference theme and subthemes. There will be a special student track for MA and PhD students.

Abstracts should meet the following requirements:

  • All abstracts must have a title and a word count of 300 words, written in English;
  • Include all contact information (name of author, affiliation, email address, phone number). In case of multiple authors, please indicate who is the corresponding author;
  • Please don’t refer to name and/or affiliation in the text of the abstract;
  • Relation to the conference theme / subthemes should be clearly indicated, please add 3-5 keywords to specify;
  • If you are an MA or PhD student, please indicate this;
  • Preferably submit as a Microsoft Word file.

All abstracts will go through a double blind peer review. After selection of abstracts, full papers (3000 – 5000 words) can be developed. We are planning to select papers after the conference for publication in a special edition of an academic journal.

Abstracts should be sent to before 1st December 2017 (additional few days allowed owing to reminder)

* Any questions please contact: Ruzina Choudhury *