Can fashion save the world?*

*Please note that the responsible Fashion series emerged from the Fashion Colloqium series that ran from 2012-2019.


October 20-21-22 2021, AntwerpFeaturing: October 22 visit to the reopened Antwerp Fashion Museum (MoMu) and other unique fashion locations

Can fashion save the world?

We are presently in a crisis that is nothing like anything we have ever faced before and we were reminded of our Antwerp experience from the beginning of the 1990s.  Then, we were facing in Europe important societal changes, increasing globalization, an escalation in migration and the breakthrough of populist parties all over Europe. Antwerp became in 1993 the cultural capital of Europe and ran with the ‘tagline’: “Can the arts save the world?” What Antwerp 93 wanted to stimulate was a reflection and debate about the societal role that Arts and Culture (including fashion) could play and thereby offering innovative approaches through arts and culture as a utopic remedy. The crisis today might need something similar?  Thus, accordingly, we update our offer: can fashion save the world?

Many of you might quickly agree that fashion can be known for its disruptive potential and therefore ahead of his time or alternatively you might see it differently, rather that it is symptomatic of today’s problems?  We claim that no other field of study and practice embraces change like fashion and here in Antwerp fashion designers have for a long time been known for their creativity and disruptive imagination. Therefore, we ask:

Might Creatives play a greater role in a changing world?

Back in the 1980s creativity was mostly understood as still based on the individual genius and/or practice of certain skills (craftsmanship). Today, some forty years later, it might be more accurate to understand that creativity no longer resembles this guise, but rather, now has evolved into something that is no longer seen as exclusively individual, but rather something that draws for its inspiration from influences from new sources:  sometimes from other disciplines, from other cultures or perhaps reevaluating our heritage, etc… Thus, we are witnessing a new birth and guise for creativity; perhaps one that is an interdisciplinary response?

We need to think differently…more creatively perhaps in terms of new ways of working including forms of collaboration?  New technologies and processes?  What business models are necessary in order to survive and prosper? Perhaps what these observations lead to is a further question:  do we need to break a few things down before we can re-build?

What are your thoughts? Perhaps you see these issues differently or you can offer ‘new’ ‘creative insights through fashion’?  If you are interested in this potential then we would like to invite you to join us in Antwerp so we can share our mutual understandings and questions.  Join us in Antwerp!



  • Breaking stereotypes – revisiting fashion imagery and gender fluidity
  • Breaking the internet – New technologies fashion: COVID-19 have shown the possibilities and limitations of the digital world for fashion. How can digital strategies reinforce the design process, the distribution and retail, fashion marketing, and consumption in fashion.
  • Breaking the mold – Do we need to develop new types contributors to the fashion world? How can we improve and find innovative and sustainable business models and new collaborative forms?
  • Breaking down the economic system – how can we change the fashion economic system, one that has been based on fast fashion, hyper
    consumerism and exploitation into a more circular, and socially more
    balanced ecosystem?
  • Breaking the rules – Reflecting on fashion education: How should we
    prepare young people for the fashion industry? As an independent
    designer or part of a collective or a larger company?
  • Breaking down creativity – what have we learnt about managing creatives
    for the fashion industry? What does creativity and craftsmanship mean in the 21st century? How does this impact on notions such as authorship?
  • Breaking down and building new roles – Fashion designers are looking to take on different roles within society: designing, curating exhibitions, collaborating with other arts sectors, and so on… And what is the role of leadership and management in this transition?


We welcome contributions from people from all backgrounds interested in fashion and its transition. We hope that you will be able to come to Antwerp but if not we welcome your participation digitally!

We invite abstracts (to be developed into full papers after selection) related to the conference theme and subthemes. A selection of the best contributions will be made and published after the conference. More information in this will follow. We are also keen to encourage other types of contributions (including: visual, exhibitions, displays, content for poster sessions, cases-studies etc). If you want to propose other types of content not listed here, then please submit your ideas.

Abstracts should meet the following requirements:

  • All the abstracts must have a title and a word count of about 500 words, & should be written in English & submitted in Microsoft word file format only.
  • Provide 5-7 keywords that closely reflect the content of the abstract.
  • Relation to the conference theme / subthemes should be clearly indicated
  • All submissions will be reviewed by the Scientific Committee and will be notified upon acceptance.
  • Please include all contact information (Name of the author, affiliation, email address, phone number).
  • In case of multiple authors, please indicate the corresponding authors.

Please send your contribution not later than February 28th 2021.

Selected proposals will be notified by 30th April 2021

Responsible Fashion Series, Send your contribution not later than February 28th 2021. Selected proposals will be notified by 30th April 2021

University of Antwerp

Primary Contact:  Nathalie Verboven:, Tel. +32 3 265 88 28

Due date:  02/28/2021

More info: