South African futurism: Students’ vision of future aesthetics in fashion design



Fashion, Jewellery & Textile Design


  • fashion aesthetics, heritage, South African futurism, student perspectives


While considering new pathways in design, we envisioned the futuristic aesthetic of fashion in the South African context. Although fashion designers work with complex and multifaceted problems, the cornerstone of good design remains beautiful aesthetics; thus, when imagining the progression of South African design, we start with an investigation of aesthetics.

No one viewpoint can adequately describe South African aesthetics due to the country's multicultural history and makeup. The question of South African aesthetics is thus best researched from the perspective of multiple participants and how they each view their cultural aesthetic based on their heritage. In a student project, we asked what 'South African Futurism' is to gauge students' viewpoints on the future of South African fashion aesthetics from the student's heritage lens. The term futurism, used in the project, means to 'represent a dynamic vision of the future’.

Students were asked to research their heritage through a collection of visual images to present their idea of futuristic South African aesthetics. Students completed a visual analysis of their research using the following elements of fashion design, identified as the big five elements: shape, proportion, texture, design details, and colour. Students applied their research outcomes to a series of futuristic shirt designs that included a textural application.

From the design outcomes produced by the students, a case study was conducted to observe and describe the five design elements as perceived by the students. This paper will present key insights into the future of South African fashion aesthetics based on how the students reimagined design elements from their heritage to envision futuristic South African fashion.


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