An international conference bringing together the latest academic research around ‘colloquial’ dress, costume and textile practices.

The Fashion and Textiles Institute at Falmouth University, July 6-7 2023

For centuries, metropolitan centres have drawn the focus of the material culture and narratives associated with dress and textiles, creating an often urban-centric discourse. In these traditional discourses, ‘fashion’ is disseminated from these urban hubs and radiates outwards to the provinces and peripheries. Whilst mass manufacture of textiles and garments might have taken place elsewhere, the creative, conceptual and intellectual roots of taste were arguably perceived as a metropolitan endeavour. Joanne Finkelstein expanded on this in Chic Theory (1997) when she wrote: ‘The emphasis that city life gives to appearances concentrates attention on the fashionable.’ This is undeniably true across a range of historical contexts and urban spaces continue, justifiably, to operate as melting pots of design and culture. This can, however, suggest that anything beyond the urban centre is, ergo, UN-fashionable.

In light of shifting perspectives relating to sustainable practices, disrupted supply chains during the pandemic and an evolving employment market, it is time to reframe notions of the geographies of creativity. The term ‘provincial’ evolved over time from simply physical geography to something more pejorative. From its original definition of a person coming from a province, it offered a shorthand to describe an outlook that was limited, lacking in urban polish and narrow. But for the countless creatives whose content derives from provincial settings, it seems timely to explore these new design geographies.

Conference convenors