December 19, 2005

i believe in the new

the fashion label nothing nothing sold for £235 on e-bay. this was the product description:

"nothing nothing - fashion label for sale."


1) all surviving nothing nothing garment patterns, and rights to use: spring-summer 1999 to spring-summer 2003
2) all existing nothing nothing garment labels, and rights to use
3) UK Trademark ownership (partial assignment / right of use for: nothing nothing)
4) website address ownership (transfer / right of use for: nothing & nothing

to view the nothing nothing collection archive please click here
Sale begins: 30th November 2002 by auction (no reserve bid), for 10 days
Why?: nothing nothing began from a bedroom in my mum and dads house in Worthing, in 1998. Back then i didn't have enough money to show my work to press and buyers, so i started sending out fashion show invites to non-existent events. Everybody loves to receive an invitation.

At the time, it seemed all fashion designers followed the same path to success: they were all showing 'something', and obsessed with presentation. It was as if creative objects were totally irrelevant until someone else accepted them: That they gained their relevance only from being seen by the outside world.

To cut a long story short, since then nothing nothing has shown 6 times at London Fashion Week, and a further 14 times around the world, in such places as France, Scotland, Japan, Hong Kong, America, Iceland, Russia, Switzerland, and Korea. Its received the New Generation Award from the British Fashion Council 3 times, and has been featured in Vogue, Elle, i-D, Tank, Dutch, Surface, The Telegraph, The Times, The Guardian, The Evening Standard, The International Herald & Tribune, and many more fashion magazines, television programs and newspapers worldwide. The label has retailed in Japan, Hong Kong and London.

Despite all this effort and achievement, nothing nothing has never been a financial success, and the support from the buyers and editors has been transitory. There is now apparently 'so much of everything' and so short an attention span, that nothing nothing simply became part of the new and ever growing 'fashion entertainment industry': its collections became a performance for the amusement or upset of audiences taking time-out between proper fashion shows.

More money was spent presenting nothing nothing products to the invited press & buyers than was actually made selling them, and so it is true to say that nothing nothing has not profited at-all from either being seen, presented, or sold. Loss has become a central aspect of its business objective: nothing nothing has been 'buying high and selling low' from day one.

I was watching television the other night and heard Rachel Newsome from Dazed&Confused going on about how there's no longer such a thing as the 'underground'. Everything apparently has been absorbed into the mainstream.
A place where real 'success' is awarded by a panel of industry experts, or an armchair audiences. A spectator sport where the seating arrangements seem as important to the audience as the products of creativity on show. So this sale is my knee-jerk reaction.

The media tries to obliterate everything outside its focus. Are creative people really to believe that there is so much diversity of style in the media, that the whole world is represented by magazines and television ? Like the Discovery space capsule, can you really deduce the whole world from the total sum of their contents ?

I believe that you have to allow for the possibility that the most creatively important work of our time is currently in the process of being developed in studios, and has not yet emerged. I believe that you must also allow for the certainty that many of the most creatively interesting products already 'out there', are shut away from view and hoarded by collectors, libraries and museums: over-protected and lost within the fanaticism of a collection. I also believe that you have to ask the question: Is that which gets made necessarily more creative than that which does not ? and,
Are the things which get commissioned and marketed more creatively challenging than the products which only became prototypes, plans, scripts, and mad dreams, or which became lost on hard-drives or night buses ? Perhaps the most vital creative ideas only ever existed in memory, having evaporated in the act of their performance, growing more elaborate through myth and the passing of time ? You have to allow for the possibilities. You have to know that there is so much more 'underground' than there can ever be 'mainstream'.

I have always been protective of the enjoyment i gain from making things: The process of technique and the activity of invention. As a teacher, i hate the opinion that there is nothing left to discover. That everything new must emulate something passed, and be mediated to the audience in 'themes', 'scenes' and 'styles' for easier consumption. Fashion editors, stylists and marketers seem to have exhausted their own childhood nostalgia through their relentless plundering of fashions history,
and now confronting the present for the first time have decided that there is nothing left to discover. That everything is already here at our fingertips ready to be reworked: That anything new will be instantly recognizable as a synthesis of everything we have ever seen. They seem to have completely lost interest in finding and seeking out new things. Their understanding of the new is to seek out the characteristics they find familiar and comfortable with: what scene the new is part of, and what style or decade it suggests by comparison.

Not everything gets absorbed by the mainstream: only if you believe the whole world is represented in media, or that the whole world actually IS the media, that creativity IS a television programme, IS a magazine, could this be true.
A great deal of creativity is not seen, or is not visible.
It is an act, or an activity.
It is a sketchbook, plan, pattern, work in progress, a series of unedited rushes, and half-finished toiles: and it's all happening and unfolding right now in studios and colleges, behind closed doors in a place called the REAL WORLD.

I'm sending nothing nothing off into the unknown. I'm taking it out of circulation, to be hoarded or collected or transformed. I'm closing the loop, taking it all back underground, selling out at a price everyone can afford:
yours for a quid,
take it or leave it.


andrea said...


look to the blind & the deaf,
the polio-stricken,
the wheelchair-bound:

you'll see mounds (ice-cream-mounds) of creativity. by seeing them.

movie recommendation: the films of Philibert. he visited Berkeley last year!

i was lucky to encounter it first-hand in southwestern China in 2004. encounter it very, very, very...
... i don't know.

i can't think of a word to capture it.

and this is why I Hate Anthropology at Berkeley!

andrea said...


i will convince/suggest my housemate S.B. to acquire a Net-flix account for the co-op.


this might mean that i'll obliterate my own account.

if i can't or won't convince Steph. to "combine Net-flix accounts", could i convince you?

let's talk about this...