Wilhelm Braun-Feldweg Foerderpreis 2009 Sponsorship Award for Design Critical Writing
Design critical texts, Vol. 3

Anne Theresia Wanders SLOW FASHION
Introduction: Ruedi Baur ISBN 978-3-7212-0710-1

The Wilhelm Braun-Feldweg Sponsorship Award seeks to promote critical writing about design in memory of Prof. Dr. Wilhelm Braun-Feldweg (1908-1998), one of the pioneers of German industrial design. 

In 2009 the prize consisted of the publication of my text SLOW FASHION as a book by Swiss publishing house Niggli. The book comprises of my original German text, an English translation, a foreword by Swiss designer and professor Ruedi Baur, and a documentation of the history of the competition. The prize giving and book presentation took place at Akademie der Künste Berlin on November 30th 2009.


Personal Responsibility

With a seemingly endless amount of information technology and clever PR measures, the problem for every potential customer is how to assess the information. For example, is organic cotton really organic or after being grown free of pesticides has it then been dyed using harmful chemicals? Is bamboo better because there is too much cotton monoculture? Is fur good because it is an organic, re-generating material or is artificial fur from polyacrylics the better variant even though it’s a chemical fiber? Could polyester clothing in the end be better because its more durable, easier to care for and theoretically can be recycled? Such questions are not easy to answer and the ambiguous answers are even more difficult to communicate. The border between sensible information reduced to a minimum and simplified green wash is quite fluid. On the one hand there is a lack of clear definitions, on the other fashion journalism is rifer with alluring catchphrases than it is with facts or accurate statements. 

It is virtually impossible to verify content and guidelines, and as strategies for sustainable or ecological fashion design have only recently been formulated, they will be open to interpretation until proven practices have emerged. Complete documentation of the origins of a product does not mean that a consumer is able to interpret what this information means or to base purchasing decisions on it. The conscious consumer will have to find a balance between carrying out independent critical research and trusting in sources and certificates. 

Beyond the materials, I believe it is important to see fashion as a disposable good and signs of wear as a part of one’s own expanded identity. In this way it is possible to free oneself from fleeting trends, to purchase clothes that can be worn for a long time and to allow wear and use to become features of one’s own identity, indications of one’s personal history. Images of beauty, luxury and affluence contradict the principle of slow fashion. It is the personal responsibility of each person to decide to what extent she will sacrifice herself to such images. An honest admission of one’s own ignorance and a commitment to good causes are the prerequisites for real progress. Consumers that don’t stop asking questions and looking for answers are also sources of ideas for designers.

Excerpt from: Wilhelm Braun-Feldweg Förderpreis. Designkritische Texte/ Design Critical Texts Vol. 3: Anne Theresia Wanders “Slow Fashion”, Sulgen/Zürich/Berlin, 2009, pp.112.