Textile Society of America


Date of this Version



In Approaching Textiles, Varying Viewpoints: Proceedings of the Seventh Biennial Symposium of the Textile Society of America, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 2000


Copyright © 2000 by the author(s).


The papers by Hazel Lutz, Heather Akou, and Cathy Daly raise several overlapping issues that bridge three words-two, fashion and tradition that we have used commonly and perhaps, carelessly. The third, globalization, that is newer in our vocabularies but so common that it approaches or has become a buzzword.

Before continuing with analysis of these words as concepts and their place in understanding textiles today, I want to compliment the authors of the papers for providing their thoughtful and richly documented examples of textile traditions that emerge from Africa and Asia with impact on other continents. Each author provided in-depth knowledge about a specific textile or related set of textiles: Lutz's example of Indian cloths prepared for export to West Africa; Akou's example of West African indigo and mud-dyed cloths Africa; and Daly's example of Afghan women's embroideries.

Certainly, the details in their papers along with other examples emerging from the symposium prod us to question what fashion, tradition, and globalization mean. In our own panel, Akou provided an easy launching place for defining fashion and tradition. She points out a discrepancy between Roach-Higgins' and Blumer's definitions of fashion. However, consistent in each is the idea that change occurs whether we are consciously aware of it or not. She quotes Blumer who says that a primary response to fashion is seen "chiefly as doing what is believed as the superior practice." Abandoning that which is no longer superior means changing one's practice. Even though we may have few disagreements about the role of change in fashion, the problems arise in our use of traditional and tradition in relationship to fashion. The implication is that anything that comes from a tradition and is thus traditional has not, does not, and will not change.