The Creative Influence of History in Fashion Practice: The Legacy of the Silk Road and Chinese-Inspired Culture-Led Design

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Abstract

Drawing on work that examines the role of culture as the stimulus for design, the article explores the ways in which the legacy of China’s Silk Road, dating back 4,000 years ago, continues to provide inspiration for Chinese and Chinese-inspired fashion designers. In terms of substantive focus, the article applies the culture-led design research of Ritchie Moalosi and colleagues to the practice of fashion design. The article provides an overview of the history of the Silk Road and discusses the ways in which aspects of the history of the Silk Road was important for the development of the Chinese fashion industry and which finds specific expression in the work of designers and fashion houses. To explore this process, the article focuses on the design and fashion products and aesthetic of Laurence Xu, Jiang Qiong’er and Shang Xia, Shanghai Tang, and Vivienne Tam. The article discusses the ways in which these practitioners and companies have used aspects of the Silk Road in their work, such as imagery, textiles and materials, but the article also considers the ways in which aspects of cultural hybridity are evident in such artefacts. The article critically considers nostalgic conceptions of the Silk Road history and its status as an “imaginative community” with regard to culture-led fashion product design and contemporary cultural and social attitudes towards the Silk Road. The article concludes with the view that the Silk Road represents a significant example of the transformation of cultural features into distinctive design elements that express and preserve historical Chinese culture and illustrates how culture can provide materials for new design ideas and practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-22
Number of pages22
JournalFashion Practice
Early online date9 Feb 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 9 Feb 2021

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