“In the wake of military buildup and increasingly aggressive rhetoric from across the Strait, striving to be unique is becoming ever so more important to Taiwan’s Gen-Z.”
For this year’s Fashion Week, the Taiwanese Ministry for Culture went down a more unconventional path for the release of the Spring Summer 2024 (SS24) collections this October. Following on from the theme of “Youth Culture”, six designers were selected to represent the Island’s younger generation through the lens of their own approach to fashion design. Some relied on music genres ranging from hip-hop to heavy metal, while others turned to forms of art such as graffiti and comic book drawings. Unsurprisingly, the element all these collections had in common was rebellion. Although the main source of inspiration and target audience was Taiwan, it is that they captured a feeling shared by young people all over the world: the desire to be different.
Observing this particular Taipei Fashion Week within the context of Taiwanese society at the moment, it’s rather inevitable to notice a connection between politics and the youth’s pursuit of nonconformity. In the wake of military buildup and increasingly aggressive rhetoric from across the Strait, striving to be unique is becoming ever so more important to Taiwan’s Gen-Z. Rebellion against conformity seems to go beyond basic fashion trends and rather towards something more menacing, personal freedom.
Apart from choosing unconventional forms of art and music, the six designers expressed the desire to be different through innovative design techniques, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and 3D printing. Fashion Week started with (A)crypsis® and .67ARROW who swapped the classic catwalk runway show for a hip-hop dance battle to showcase their latest collections. While JUST IN XX closed with a collection acting as the visual representation of a non-existent comic book invented by an AI chatbot.
“(A)crypsis®” & “.67ARROW”
Nothing could have better captured the feeling of rebellion quite like a hip-hop dance battle. Snubbing the catwalk entailed a single-handed rejection of traditional fashion show settings and, therefore, of austerity in the fashion industry. It was exactly this that allowed the two fashion houses to convey the spontaneity and soulfulness of teenagers. (A)crypsis® chose to focus on textile techniques to represent youth culture, some of which included spins on traditional embroidery and knitting methods. .67ARROW, however, chose to take ‘hip-hop’ quite literally. Inspired by the street style of the 90s and early 2000s, the brand brought pop culture alive through baggy clothing tainted with spray paint to achieve a lettering effect.
Contrary to the opening acts, oqLiq chose art over music to portray Taiwanese pop culture. Collaborating with contemporary Taiwanese artist Cowper Wang and comic book artist Eli Lin, the brand sought to capture the 3D illusion innate to comic book art through fashion. Animation-inspired makeup and graphic prints were employed to personify the outlines of comic book characters. To tie this all together, street style came into use to bring out the characteristics of Taiwanese Gen-Z.
This season, Plateau Studio called on graffiti art as a creative input. In collaboration with artist ‘Reach’, the runway show illustrated a collision between fashion and graffiti, using the models as canvases for his art. Like other designers after the pandemic, this collection aimed to stay clear of comfort and step back into extravaganza. The use of graffiti art turned out to be the perfect way to align with aesthetics preferred by younger generations as well as a medium to move away from the dullness of comfort.
JUST IN XX
The closing act of Taipei Fashion Week this year was surely the most unusual one. JUST IN XX took an innovative approach, employing an AI chatbot to create a fictional comic book titled “SO Soul MAD House”. The outfits in the story served as the main inspiration for the Spring Summer 2024 collection. The interesting aspect of this choice is that the brand’s collection is living proof of something that AI cannot compute. Though it might be able to make up an authentic comic book story, it cannot capture artists’ sensitivity to bring characters alive through art.
Image Captions: 1. Graffiti artist Reach for Plateau Studio; 2. Hip-hop dance battle for the showcase of (A)crypsis® and .67ARROW’s newest collections; 4. The 6 designers selected to present at Taipei Fashion Week for Spring Summer 2024