YKK presents the Dazzle Collective at London Craft Week

Image: Dazzle Collective

Zipper manufacturer YKK is presenting the Dazzle Collective, a group of creators from around the world who follow a zero-waste ethos to change the understanding of fashion for London Craft Week.

With makers from more than 15 different nationalities, the Dazzle Collective will demonstrate how performance, fashion and technology can create a space for leaving behind narrative, language, body and gender hierarchies. The innovative showcase will allow viewers to virtually dive into a behind-the-scenes experience in their ateliers by donning a VR headset.

The Dazzle Collective is an offshoot of Dazzle, an immersive mixed-reality performance and costume ball, and the YKK virtual event during London Craft Week will highlight the collaboration between visual art/choreography duo Gibson/Martelli and future-fashion collective Peut-Porter.

From May 9 to 13, from 10.30 am to 4.30 am, designers Alexa Pollmann and Bine Roth will share their understanding of craft in both the material and virtual worlds alongside performers disguised in their Dazzle outfits.

To find out more about the Dazzle Collective, YKK asked Bine Roth to share what inspired the design project, why the importance of open-source and zero-waste, as well as the challenges of working with VR and what it means for the collective to be offered a voice by YKK at London Craft Week.

What and who is the Dazzle Collective?

The Dazzle Collective is an offshoot of Dazzle, a mixed-reality costume ball created by two artistic studios – Peut-Porter and GibsonMartelli. Dazzle bridges visual art and performance with Virtual Reality and live motion capture and combines them with fashion, materiality, and tactile lived experiences.

The original Dazzle Ball that inspired the project took place in 1919 and celebrated the famous black-and-white Dazzle pattern. The geometric shapes were painted on ships to disguise them from their enemy during WWI, and they also created a cultural response in the arts, fashion, and music. We – the artists, choreographers, and designers of the project – see the visual confusion created by the Dazzle pattern as a reference to our current confusion about the contested concept of multiple realities posed by immersive technology.

For Dazzle Collective, we invited designers from Bangladesh, Germany, Singapore and the UK to respond to an open call to contribute and co-design the outfits for the Dazzle audience with us. The collective is informed by our members and we are keen to evolve and expand it with the focus on sharing and combining knowledge and skills as we see it as a big experiment/probe for co-creation and co-design.

Are there any rules that the Dazzle Collective follows?

We do – we use the zero-waste cutting pattern principle and only use 2.5 metres of Dazzle printed fabric for creation. There is a one size fits all ethos and we have one co-design meeting with the Dazzle team. We also ensure that the garment pattern is released open-source on our website, which also showcases our designers, research and work.

The Dazzle Collective platform is: For Everyone. The Goal: Five Continents. One collection.

Image: Dazzle Collective

What inspired you all to co-collaborate?

The project was initiated by Alexa Pollmann with the aim of Dazzle Collective achieving a representation of fashion that is inclusive and accessible for all, with a non-euromerican focus.

Dazzle has always seen the physical experience, embodied in performance and fashion to be of the essence – somehow, it seems born out of a necessity to create the Collective to demonstrate an alternative to our well-known design processes.

Alexa added: “Maybe it is the longing for togetherness, for an out of breath evening where we stumble and dance and hold hands – an ecstatic and rebellious moment where we will feel and sense sounds, bodies, ruffling of coats and the clicking of heels. Perhaps it is our confinement that has brought us to nuance and build up, to zoom in and scale up simultaneously.”

Why is a zero-waste and open-source ethos so important to you/the collective?

With a strong focus on responsible design, we invite our participants to rethink their crafting process. As we are all aware that zero-waste is a design technique that aims to address eliminating textile waste in the making process but it also, in our case, creates commonality rather than uniformity but most importantly ensures usability for any size and shape of audiences that are to wear these outfits. Furthermore, the open-source ethos follows the principle of what we call collectivist fashion practices.

We established that all participating creators are supplied with a generatively produced and therefore unique print design and 2.5 meters of printed sustainably sourced fabric that is to be fully used. Hardware has been sponsored by YKK and can be added as per need by each participant.

What can we expect from your London Craft Week experience?

During this week-long event, visitors will be able to see garments made by our Collective as well as dive into one of our VR experiences to get a glimpse behind the scenes. With this exhibition, we aim to tell the story behind our collective and the art of collaborative making. Dazzle and respectively Dazzle Collective demonstrate how performance, fashion and technology can create a space for communing, leaving behind narrative, language, body and gender hierarchies.

Are there challenges working with VR to create your experiences?

We are a team of two studios working together – Peut-Porter and GibsonMartelli. Everyone comes with their own expertise in various areas which can be helpful when working with various media. With Dazzle, we combine the physical and the digital which comes again with its own challenges.

The true nature of the technology means users are ‘transported’ into VR and often do so in isolation. People typically trial VR on their own and walk away from the experience without successfully wielding a relationship with VR. Our experience differs in that respect that it actually reconnects people. Due to the pandemic, due to the nature of this project being collaborative and aiming to address this phygital world, we have faced obvious challenges. As with many other nascent technologies, the key to VR’s success is making it accessible to as many people as possible so that people can share their experiences.

What does it mean for Dazzle Collective to be offered a platform/voice through YKK?

YKK stands for creativity and technical innovation, values that can be seen in the work of our collaborators. For years the YKK London Showroom has been used as an area to champion student’s and young designer’s work, collaborative projects with designers and artists.

Being provided with this significant opportunity to showcase unique and truly captivating work, we are honoured to have the possibility to put our collaborators in touch with such a platform as YKK, who have been very supportive throughout the process.

How do you utilise YKK products in your designs?

For our personal designs, we try and come up with solutions that implement YKK products in a smart way. Being inspired by the products we can alter our designs. We have only just started the collaboration with our collective.

However, YKK is involved from the beginning in the briefing to inspire students to find different solutions for garment making using YKK products. Introducing their innovative products to our participants gives our collaborators the choice to design accordingly.

Image: Dazzle Collective