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FASHION’S FIBRES AS PLANETARY FLOWS (CFP)

Organization: Università degli studi di Firenze
Event: CFP
Categories: Miscellaneous
Event Date: 2024-12-01 Abstract Due: 2024-08-31

CALL FOR PAPERS | Fashion Highlight Issue 4

 
FASHION’S FIBRES AS PLANETARY FLOWS


Guest Editors: Alice Payne and Anneke Smelik


Fibre, the basis of fashion’s materiality, is experiencing rising demand year on year, reflecting
the insatiable desire for ‘more’ that defines the dominant fashion system. With an annual
consumption of 116 million tonnes in 2022, close to a doubling in 20 years (Textile Exchange
2023), humanity’s appetite for fibre has never been more voracious.
Recent studies on fashion’s fibre are diverse: including comparative analyses of different
fibres’ sustainability benefits or challenges, analysis of their material flows, value chains
(Mellick et. al 2021) and cultural histories (Smelik 2023). In industry contexts there are calls
for fibre to be traceable from all sources – whether from forests, oil fields, farms, or
laboratories – and their impacts to be quantified and reduced (e.g., UNECE 2021; Changing
Markets 2022).
This Call for Papers proposes a planetary perspective on fibre, one in which fibre is viewed as
material flows and forces on and of both human and non-human, the living and the
technological, and the crowded continuum between them. Following Morton (2013), fibres
such as polyester may be seen as ‘hyperobjects’: objects so vast, so planet-wrapping in their
spatial impact and so long in their temporal lifespan (from ancient fossil fuel origins to
eventual photo-degradation), that they resist comprehension.
Viewed through a planetary lens, fibres are unruly: no corner of the earth is free of
microfibres, they persist in air, water and soil, coagulate in oceans. Fibres can be living
technologies, in the case of genetically modified cotton plants, or blended combinations of
biological and synthetic matter in stubborn melanges that resist easy separation.
Fibres are traded: they are commodities hedged on the futures markets, travelling through
global value chains and across national borders. Fibres are branded as products. As
sustainability credentials continue to be fiercely contested, the eco-labels associated with
varieties of cotton or wool (whether certified as ‘responsible’, ‘organic’, or ‘regenerative’)
can command a premium.
A posthuman (Braidotti 2016) perspective on fibre recognises the vitality of fibres, or as a
‘world of active materials’ as Ingold puts it (2013), as well as the politics, power dynamics,
exchanges and agency of the many kinds of humans, non-humans, more-than-humans that
together create fibre as matter. This Call for Papers proposes that a posthuman perspective
can support analysis of the dynamics, ethics and materiality of fibre at a planetary scale. This
Call for Papers invites reflections, provocations, and speculations on fashion's future,

focusing on the tiny strands of fibre that are aggregated by the tonne, traded as
commodities, spun into yarns, branded as products, and wrestled over in the marketplace.
We invite papers on individual fibre stories of all forms, from viscose, cotton, wool, silk,
polyester, nylon and beyond, on the role of fibre in a circular economy, the governance of
fibre, the ethics of fibre, the cultural histories of new and old fibre technologies, fibre and
place, and provocations on fibre’s agency and materiality. This call aims to stimulate a
dialogue about fibre as the fundamental element of fashion, shaping its present and future.

REFERENCES
Braidotti, R. (2016). Posthuman critical theory. Critical posthumanism and planetary futures, 13-32.
Changing Markets Foundation. (2022). Synthetics Anonymous 2.0: Fashion’s persistent plastic
problem.

https://changingmarkets.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/Synthetics-Anonymous-2-online-
reports-layout.pdf

Ingold, T. (2013). Making: Anthropology, archaeology, art and architecture. Routledge.
Mellick, Z., Payne, A., & Buys, L. (2021). From Fibre to Fashion: Understanding the Value of
Sustainability in Global Cotton Textile and Apparel Value Chains. Sustainability, 13(22), 12681.
https://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/13/22/12681.
Morton, T. (2013). Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology after the End of the World. U of Minnesota
Press.
Smelik, A. (2023). Polyester: A Cultural History. Fashion Practice, 15(2), 279–299.
https://doi.org/10.1080/17569370.2023.2196158
Textile Exchange. (2023). Materials Market Report 2023.
https://textileexchange.org/app/uploads/2023/11/Materials-Market-Report-2023.pdf
UNECE. (2021). Policy brief – Harnessing the potential of blockchain technology for due diligence and
sustainability in cotton value chains.
https://unece.org/sites/default/files/2021-04/ECE_TRADE_C_CEFACT_2021_12E-TextilePolic
yBrief_0.pdf
ABOUT THE GUEST EDITORS
Dr Alice Payne is a Professor and Dean of the School of Fashion and Textiles at RMIT. Her
research focuses on environmental and social sustainability issues throughout the life cycle
of clothing. Recent work has examined labour issues in the cotton value chain, as well as
technologies to address the problem of textile waste. She is author of the book Designing
Fashion’s Future, co-editor of Global Perspectives on Sustainable Fashion, and is an
award-winning designer and educator.
Professor emerita Anneke Smelik was Professor of Visual Culture and Fashion Studies till
2023, in the Department of Cultural Studies at the Radboud University of Nijmegen
(Netherlands). After years of research on visual media such as film, television and videoclips,
she has shifted her focus to fashion studies and the creative industries. In 2018-19 Anneke
Smelik was a Fellow at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in Amsterdam. She is
co-editor of Critical Studies in Fashion & Beauty.

INSTRUCTION FOR THE AUTHORS
We welcome full papers in English with a range length of 3000-4000 words, footnotes and
bibliographical references excluded. It is highly recommended to use the template and APA
STYLE as a formatting guideline.
The deadline for submitting the full paper (saved in .doc or .docx format) via the platform is
31 August 2024. The issue 4 will be published in December 2024.

Fashion Highlight is published by Firenze University Press with ISSN 2975-0466, whose Open
Access policy requires no fee for publication, while supporting the double-blind peer review
process.
Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions, concerns or informations:
fashionhighlight@fup.unifi.it

https://riviste.fupress.net/index.php/fh

https://riviste.fupress.net/index.php/fh/announcement/view/72

fashionhighlight@fup.unifi.it

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