Since its beginnings in the middle of the 19th century, fashion has been narrated through multiple media, both visual and verbal, and for such different purposes as marketing and advertising, art, costume history, social research and cultural dissemination. Since then, fashion has represented an important piece of material culture in modern industrial urban societies and in postcolonial and non-western contexts: artifacts that embody workmanship, tastes, lifestyles as well as the costume and art traditions of different countries. In other words, fashion is at the core of modern culture imaginary.
Today, we are witnessing a turn in this imaginary as issues related to social, environmental and cultural sustainability come to predominate in many areas of human activity. The discourses and the products of material culture developed in the field of fashion form large part of this imaginary because fashion items and the related production processes are closely involved in the transformation of the environment and work conditions. Fashion studies have already fostered scientific debate on the environmental and social implications of fashion production and consumption.
But sustainability impacts also on the domain of culture as a more sustainable fashion imaginary emerges. This imaginary consists of multiple models of beauty, no longer reduced to the anorexic bodies that the fashion system has long promoted; of encounters between fashion and other visual cultures worldwide and dialogue with a variety of fields and disciplines; possible political and emancipatory uses of fashion to transform individual and collective identities through the digital and social media. These processes can act as means to build new social images of bodies, of their health and wellness, to create new models for social actions and practices, and to nurture diversity.
Since fashion is a system of material production and consumption, and a system of signs, it involves differently skilled people. Their purposes, however, have often been divergent, and too rarely have they overlapped. Media professionals, communication and marketing consultants, scholars, curators and other actors in the field of fashion develop their own discourses and expertise, but often with scant crossovers among them. Indeed, comparing and sharing experiences, concepts and methodologies can be difficult. When these grow out of different national or regional traditions, the dialogue can become even more challenging.
The book Fashion Tales: Feeding the Imaginary addresses this challenge. By facilitating encounters between disciplines and cultures, it explores a multitude of fashion issues, practices and views that feed the contemporary fashion imaginary: local cultures, linguistic codes, TV series, movies, magazines, ads, blogs, bodily practices. The book deals with a paramount issue for fashion studies: how do the production and circulation of fashion imaginary take place in the 21st century?