October 27th 2017, 9.30 am – 5.30 pm
Berlin University of the Arts, Foyer Concert Hall

Symposium is held in english language, participation only possible by invitation

Building links is at the heart of value creation in fashion. The clothes we wear link us to the identities we seek to assume. They invoke associations with distant places or desirable life styles. Sometimes such linkages are more than superficial associations created in the service of revenue generation. Fashion finds itself at a critical point. It has lost its exclusivity, no longer dictates trends, and seems to lose all relevance in view of the radical democratization of clothing styles. Familiar parameters between fast fashion and high fashion got lost. The speed of the economic dynamics harmed the appreciation of innovative ideas. Quality, innovative potential, originality and handwriting of the design are hardly noticed. Between high fashion and the mass market, fast fashion and slow fashion, trendy upcycling and the vast second hand market: Which links are we missing when we discuss the value of fashion? Is the dazzling multitude of value propositions just a way of concealing the division of labour between those who benefit and those who pay the price? Or is a renaissance of craft afoot – a reorientation of design principles in fashion towards durable materials and intrinsic quality? Which responsibilty should designers take? What role should fashion and their designers play in society in the future? In short: Are there values in fashion value?

Organized jointly by the University of the Arts Berlin (UdK), the Leibniz Institute for Research on Society and Space (IRS), Manchester University and Stockholm University, this international conference brings together academics, designers, activists, policy makers, fashion industry representatives and journalists to engage with the question of value and values in fashion. Funded by the Leibniz Association, it concludes the research project ‘Geographies of dissociation: The social construction of value from a spatial perspective’ carried out at the IRS in Erkner, Germany. Key findings of the project, which uses the example of the global fur industry to study the economic geographies of value creation, will be presented. Keynote lectures will address issues of value creation from the perspectives of fashion design and economic geography. Three panels will take on key themes addressed throughout the conference:

  • The formulation of policies at the intersection of activism, fashion industry and government
  • The role of the media, old and new, in ascribing and appreciating value in the fashion world
  • The value of design and the responsibility of designers who, by making aesthetic choices, effect material consequences across distances in time and space

The conference links up with UdK’s annual fashion show featuring the creations of fashion design graduates on the night of 26 October 2017, offering participants a first-hand encounter with the cutting edge of current fashion design thinking. An exhibition showing a selection of UdK design projects reflecting on values in fashion is accessible on the conference venue.


Professor Martin Rennert,
President Berlin University of the Arts

Felix Müller,
Leibniz Institute for Research on Society and Space

Oliver Ibert,
Leibniz Institute for Research on Society and Space and FU Berlin

Ane Lynge-Jorlén, Lund University, Lund, Aya Noël, independent journalist, Brussels, Ingeborg Harms, independent journalist, Berlin, Katharina Pfannkuch, independent journalist, Berlin, Laura Paddison, The Guardian, London


Im Gespräch mit Oliver Ibert, Leibniz Institute for Research on Society and Space and FU Berlin

Angela McRobbie,
Goldsmiths University, London

Julien Labat,
EDUN, New York

Douglas Miller,
Emeritus Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne


Valerie Steele,Fashion Institute of Technology, New York

Anja Aronowsky Cronberg, Vestoj, Paris/London, Lars Paschke, Berlin University of the Arts, Berlin, Isabelle Steger, former Head of Menswear at J.W.Anderson, London, Serhat Işik and Benjamin Huseby, designer GMBH, Berlin, Valerie Steele, Fashion Institute of Technology, New York, Valeska Schmidt-Thomsen, Berlin University of the Arts, Berlin
in conversation with Ingeborg Harms, Berlin University of the Arts




Words are explanatory but artistic works have the power to catch nuances, add complexity and explore unknown and indescribable territory.
During the Missing Links conference, we showcase a selection of student’s works relevant to contemporary ideas about value in fashion. The designs propose solutions to the problems of overconsumption and fast fashion wastefulness. Some find value in a de-accelerated pace of making, focusing on the forgotten craftsmanship of workers in fashion and discovering new relationships between the creator, the object, and the wearer.
The growing acceptance of the appropriation of ideas and designs raises questions on the importance of the author, highlighting the dubiousness of a label or a signature.
Do we still need true creation or can the design process be replaced by a generated process or reduced to a formula, a combination of 1’s and 0’s? The selected students approach this current topic from both ends of the spectrum by either detaching their influence as much as possible from the creative process or strongly committing to their very own idiosyncratic, experimental and conceptual design methods.
In order for clothes to become fashion, they need to refer to society today. One of the strengths of students at the Berlin University of the Arts is their awareness for thisresponsibility. They observe, analyse and design in a contemporary context.

//Fotos: IRS