An Archival Love Affair
MEN 'S FOLIO Singapore|August 2020
An Archival Love Affair
While archiving fashion is a detailed and respected discipline in Western countries, local industry change-makers here lean in on why the art of it has only recently surfaced in Singapore and where it will go from here.
Manfred Lu

There is no denying that in fashion, everything old is new again. An inclination to fetishise nostalgia has turned a trend of contemporising the past into an industry normality — with no indication that the swell might subside anytime soon. Fashion has had a long love affair with archiving. The desire for an object that has lived in the past and brought into the now (be it restored or reproduced) is an idea that is attractive to consumers today, where the waves of romanticising the past bleeds into every faction of contemporary culture. Despite this, archiving fashion brings different meanings to different people. For online archivists, archiving fashion objects is a way of documenting its histories without betraying the garment’s intended function, which is to be bought and worn. For museums and galleries, the act of archiving becomes an authoritative responsibility. This appreciation has been explored in Singapore before and despite efforts to conserve its fashion’s past, we only see passionate blooms of archiving starting to truly surface now.

One of the few outstanding initiatives lies in the form of the research duo, A Stubborn Bloom. Founded by Daniela Monasterios Tan and Stephanie Jane Burt, its primary motivation is to investigate material culture and explore its presentation of femininity. Tan, a researcher and a curator, describes its inception as common interests between them both in segments of art, literature and fashion.

“We are heavily invested in artists and designers that intersect both disciplines, such as artist Susan Cianciolo and fashion designer Simone Rocha, both having trained in Europe where fashion has been taken very seriously and academically.”

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August 2020