Exploring Local Identity
The Neighbourhoodies expands on a practice-based endeavour where fashion students from MA Fashion and the Environment at London College of Fashion reflected on their ‘glocal’ London identities through the design of a special hoodie – a Neighbourhoodie.
The project, instigated by visiting research fellow Otto von Busch, examines how the hoodie, today a highly contested garment, considered intimidating by authorities, can be a representation of local pride instead of representing stigmatization or provoking fear.
The Neighbourhoodies is a project at the intersection of fashion design and cultural studies that attempts to visualize belonging and questions of habitus in contemporary street-wear cultures, emanating from the today highly contested hoodie garment, considered intimidating by authorities.
Your habitus is your habitat, your neighbourhood. It reflects who you are, what you do, how you live your life. Your neighbourhood has an impact on your stride, your gestures, your actions – the tacit signals of your body techniques. Like the tones of music, it resonates with the surrounding, capturing the suggestive qualities of the neighbourhood. How do you dress for your hood and how does it dress you?
As we see a global culture appear across the planet, identity politics simultaneously gravitate towards issues of the local. In society’s top strata people strive to live in posh areas with the right postal code. Subversive counterculture activists try to keep their own multi-ethnic spaces free from yuppies who in turn try to gentrify the same areas into authentic bohemian-chic quarters. In the urban fringes gangs protect their territory and even tattoo their hood names as a sign of authentic pride. Caught in the line of fire of identity politics is the hoodie, an average street-style garment, the canvas on which social conflicts and criminal stigmata are drawn, but also where local pride and reconciliation can be brought about, inspired by its connection to the resonance of musical milieus. In a time of liquid consumerism and fear, the habitus of the hoodie seems to frame a problematic identity which has been exposed in the ban on such garments in some British malls.
Profile: Otto von Busch
Otto von Busch is a fashion designer and researcher from the University of Gothenburg who has during spring 2010 been a visiting research fellow at London College of Fashion. His research is focused on how fashion can be used as a tool for social engagement, political activism and community empowerment – to turn fashion from a system of dictations to that of participation, in short, to make fashion victims become fashion-able.