Folkloric Fashion

“To be or not to be sustainable, that is the question”

By Lidewij Edelkoort

Lidewij Edelkoort is one of the world’s most famous fashion theorists. For more than 40 years, she has foreseen the trends in fashion and lifestyle. Her consultancy company, ‘Trend Union’, established in 1975 in Paris, offers bi-annual trend forecasting books for the fashion and design community, indicating what people want in terms of design, colors and lifestyle.

In the seminar on trend of spring/summer 2020, Edelkoort presented, in her characteristic approach, fashion phenomenon in the broader context of a world view.  “Right now, xenophobia and racism are prevalent around the world. Democracy cannot withstand such a large number of autocrats backed by enormous armies. The news is rife with predictions of natural disasters and the fashion industry remains one of the greatest polluters in the world,” Li Edelkoort asserts. Is time for change, or at least, time for a counter-movement. According to the forecaster, folklore will make its entry into fashion.

Lidewij Edelkoort sees folklore as a unifier that gives a sense of belonging in the face of rising threat of terrorism, higher than ever suicide rates, national discourse, and the risks of cultural appropriation. “We would benefit from immersing ourselves in folklore and realising that we have more in common with each other than we might think.” It is known that in different places across the world, clothes have similar designs, crafted techniques were alike, patterns sometimes make bridges across very different and far away cultures. Folkloric fashion will help us in thinking universally instead of nationalistically.

She continued addressing the not so new state of fashion: “The fashion industry is blocked. There’s no time to think, only to produce and distribute. The result: old models are constantly being introduced as ‘new fashion’. We keep repeating the same items in which the differences are negligible. We continue to run around in the same circle without any innovation.” The trend forecaster considers the traditional textile ‘revival’ on the way to counterbalancing the fashion houses of speed and greed. The new trend in clothing in the future will come back to handmade, timeless garments constructed with cars. “People will once again craft garments with a soul,” says Edelkoort.

This is very good news for Romania, a country where you can still find small ateliers, where old and young women together practice the ancient technique of weaving at the loom. For far too many years, artisans have been neglected, their handcrafts overlooked and under-priced. This might be one of the main country competitive advantages, in a world where all the repetitive and non-creative jobs will be overtaken by automation. 

According to Lidewij Edelkoort, in the future we will need less clothes and the ones we choose will be different. Clothes will tell a story and bring emotions. We will not just buy clothes, but we will collect them, handpicked one by one, with attention and intention. Still, in the Romanian market today one can find original pieces in very good condition, as well as a great variety of woven textiles like hemp, linen and wool, ready to have a new life in contemporary design.  

Romanian traditional attire is a great source of inspiration for folkloric trends in fashion already – the world-famous collection La blouse Roumaine of Yves Saint Laurent in 1981, is just one example. Prestigious fashion houses and top designers (in many cases without giving credit to the source of inspiration), integrated in their collections, iconic items and definitory elements from our cultural clothing.

The mix between old and new is here to stay. Giving another life to a garment that incorporates a lot of handwork and emotions in a mechanical world is something that gives us not only peace, but also great style. 

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