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Fashion X Art?

Posted by on Wednesday, 27 April, 2011 at 12:00 PM. Filed under: Essays

Malaysia’s sharp online art community Arteri recently got in touch asking for our thoughts on becoming a contributor to their blog.

We were flattered of course, because they were specifically interested in ULTRA – the clothes. They also wanted us to tackle the age-old debate, ‘Is Fashion Art’? Wah, maybe too big a task for a collective mostly concerned with sustainability. But we do like to tackle things.

So here’s an effort.

Fashion has had a good run in our lifetimes. Jeans moved from mechanics onto models, and upturned collars from workers onto wannabes. Fashion’s exposure amongst the growing masses leads to ever increasing avenues of exploration. Many take it further than a rummage through the bottom of the drawers each morning, turning fashion into a form of expression and statement of personality, individuality, opinion.

(L: Susie Bubble by Dossier; R: Anna Dello Russo by Tommy Ton)

The Fashion as Art debate is a shifty one. To us it mostly seems born out of the grander debate of ‘What is Art’. Oh Arteri, what have you done?!

Pulling at threads over this question, we looked over to our well-loved Wikipedia for advice. This is what She tells us:

“Art is the product or process of deliberately arranging items (often with symbolic significance) in a way that influences and affects one or more of the senses, emotions, and intellect. It encompasses a diverse range of human activities, creations, and modes of expression…”

The list goes on to include the likely suspects, “music, literature, film, photography, sculpture and paintings”. Where’s fashion? Where’s video games? We’re onto a hell of a philosophical debate… and you know those not only never end well, they never end at all.

(ULTRA – The Clothes)

So! Here is our blatantly self-informed and self-formed opinion, left wide open to your debate:

We would like to think that there is art in everything.

Sure, there are ‘traditional’ forms – paint on canvas, on gallery walls – nice and comfortable semantic associations of the moment. But we’d like to believe that everyone gets the chance to instigate some human emotion through “deliberate arrangement of items”.

It might be how you put together your kid’s lunchbox, or the way you write your lover’s name in a card, or how you drape cloth over a woman to represent what you think about her and the shape of her body… to perhaps pique her interest and enliven the way she sees herself.

Here’s “to influencing and affecting… the senses, emotions, and intellect”, regardless of skill set.


‘We Are ULTRA’ are a collective of thinkers and makers grounded in sustainability. We have created art installations, fashion, organic skincare, retail concepts and always like to grow.

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  1. MEGA says
    29/04/2011 11:01 AM

    A tv celebrity dies in a car accident and is shown by demons the errors of his life, one of them is encouraging women to be fashionable

    skip to 6 min to see that scene


    skip to 8 min to see what happens to guys with roving eyes

    so is fashion a sin?

  2. VEGA says
    04/05/2011 9:02 PM

    Conceptual Art in Fashion is the Emperor’s New Clothes.

  3. Arteri: Fashion X Art | We Are ULTRA says
    23/09/2011 2:15 AM

    […] Arteri have invited us to become guest bloggers, this is our first post (you can see it on Arteri here). […]

  4. Arteri: Fashion X Art = ULTRA X Budin | We Are ULTRA says
    23/09/2011 2:26 AM

    […] story continues. (See part I and […]

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