“Designing Identity: Migrant, Refugees and Diaspora Fashion in Italy” is the first article stemming from the research carried out by Caterina Pecchioli and myself for the project “B&W – Black and White, The Migrant Trend”. This project promotes the creation of a network of migrant/refugee fashion designers in Italy and a research endeavour exploring identity making, cultural sustainability, power/authority, and innovation in the contemporary Italian fashion scene.
The article is now available in The Culture, Fashion, and Society Notebook 2021, a yearly publication by the Department of Life Quality Studies of the University of Bologna, Rimini Campus, edited by professor Monica Sassatelli.
We introduce the work of eight designers with a migrant background and African heritage who work within the “made in Italy” tradition. The case studies were selected within a larger pool of fashion makers from Africa and Asia that Pecchioli began mapping in 2018. The designers were interviewed either remotely, or in person and multiple times. Some of them participated in the “Black and White” intercultural laboratory Caterina organised at Macro Asilo, Museum of Contemporary Art of Rome in the fall of 2019. The article explores how the designers articulate identity and intercultural contact in their work and what impact the latter has on the imagination and articulation of “made in Italy.”
Here is the abstract:
In recent years, the presence of migrants and second-generation professionals in the Italian fashion scene has grown considerably. A network of ateliers populated by creatives from multiple backgrounds revisit and hybridise the tradition of “made in Italy”. At least two fashion weeks have been launched to showcase the work of designers of mixed origin and/or hailing from Africa. What happens when their perspective enters the scene of Italian fashion? What does their contribution say about the state of the industry in our country and its relationship with diversity? How do these designers perceive themselves and develop a cultural message through fashion? These questions compel an exploration of issues of national representation, hybridity, multiculturalism and sustainability as the Italian fashion scene comes face to face with Italy’s changing perception of itself. This article offers an introduction to this changing context, specifically on the work and stylistic choices of emerging talents and professionals with a history of migration, or diaspora. Our aim is to explore how fashion channels ideas and experiences of inclusion, border-crossing, intercultural contact and identity in Italy. The article stems from the ongoing research carried out for the project “B&W – Black and White, The Migrant Trend” by Picarelli (as research consultant) and Pecchioli (as co-founder and art director), a project that promotes the creation of a network of migrant/refugee fashion designers in Italy and a research endeavour exploring identity making, cultural sustainability, power/authority, and innovation in the contemporary Italian fashion scene.
Cover photo: B&W-Black&White lab_Macro Asilo photo by Giorgio Sacher