Although fashion is considered a human practice, it has always included a broad range of non-human animals; in the form of materials, symbols, rhetoric and more, non-human animals and humans mix and mingle in fashion.
However, what are the conditions of this relationality and what would we like them to be?
Which animal is present in your garment? is a research that invites participants to take into regard the non-human animals that are present in their garments. Using an on-site cloakroom, the garments that visitors are wearing and the coats or bags they leave behind, become tools through which they are invited to ask themselves whether they know which animal their leather jacket is made of; or what the social, cultural life of this animal is; what they would like to know about this animal and what they think this animal knows about them. The coats and questionnaires are then categorized on a designated clothing rack for that specific animal origin (pelt/fur, feather/down, cobweb/silk, skin/leather and hair/wool), creating a garment genealogy that is not based on style, type, color or brand but that aims to address systems of interspecies relationality, categorization and forms of co-presence in fashion.
On the clothing racks and questionnaires, participants can find visual and textual information from the industry, fashion media and about the social and cultural lives of these non-human animals. When they pick up their coat at the end of the day, they find a long clothing label attached to it with a selection of this information on it. Where a standard label might say ‘leather,’ these labels give insight in how a cow uses a range of different sounds to greet others, how rabbits take care of their young, how birds have dialects and fall in love.
During the conference Ways of caring – Practicing solidarity of the State of Fashion in July 2022 we took over the cloakroom of the city hall of Arnhem.
Visuals by Alice Alloggio
Graphic design by Zuzana Kostelanská
With support by ArtEZ Fashion Professorship and help from Maria Spadoni.