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Future in Progress

Date posted: 14/07/2010

Future in ProgressHelen Burbidge, Senior Lecturer on BSc Fashion Technology at De Montfort University, reviews:

Book: Future in Progress

Author: Academic staff at the International Fashion Institute

Publisher: International Fashion Institute, University of Central Lancashire

Publication date: 2010

ISBN: 978-1-901922-72-1

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This publication offers a range of predictive insights that attempt to stir creative thought to future fashion influence. Taking into account its one hundred and thirteen pages it is a fairly light read with plenty of imagery and is supported well in several sections with the written idea. The contents are given in twenty sections, some that are inspirational and some that are questionable. This is the first publication from the International Fashion Institute at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) and combines input from professionals as well as students.

The first section describes the UCLan way of embedding trend prediction into the curriculum. The next section demonstrates the progression from trend research into a selection of sixteen colour images from their 2009 graduate show. This is followed by one student’s work from the Fashion Promotion course, consisting of a further eight pages of imagery. Although now dated, these sections do give a little insight into the teaching process. This is more as a description of their methodology, as there is no reflection or true value for improving pedagogy.

‘What is the future of...?’ is the next and most engaging offering in the publication. Based on prediction scenarios from a range of professional contributors, the future of their own specialist area is questioned. This offers a platform for debate as we can build on the proposed idea with our students and attempt to predict our future creative industries.

A particularly thought provoking piece is Raban’s ‘nod to a blurring of the real and virtual world in education’. This is likely to prove a hot topic of interest for teachers aspiring to take the innovative approach in fostering an ideal learning environment for the ‘tech savvy’ student. As more technical tools become easily available it should only be a natural progression for the virtual world to form the main support system for education. Unfortunately, development could be halted within our own teaching, as we can only be as advanced as the tools we can access.

Another interesting piece is on the demise of digital industries where Robertshaw warns the UK could become a second class culture. This reiterates the importance of change in education, to steer our learners through the fog of entertainment and glossy media towards a training method that is engaging, so we produce employable graduates. As our dependence of communication may well rely on information technology in the future, Robertshaw raises concern over the stream of diversions that our communication base is privy to. As with many of the distractions today the learner may be quite capable of filtering them out. The problem is, as Robertson suggests, our learners are attracted to the gloss. As other economies invest in education, and ‘next generation fibre’, where does that leave the employment potential of so many students from so many design based courses?

Where this publication does offer pieces of writing that can stimulate ideas, several predictions are merely echoes of fact. As current debate focuses on sustainable progression in production, there is already a shift towards a reduction in ecological impact. However, this could prompt debate on the topic, engaging students in the discussion of the solutions and factors that could bring about change.

Other sections in this book that could initiate dialogue are on brand development, the consumer and new technology. ‘Resonant Marketing’, appears to be quite an accurate glimpse into the future of marketing. With acknowledgement of the changing consumer who resists marketing; acceptance of the power of open communication through which consumers will market to each other, and how transparency of product will help marketability. This section could help to initiate thought development and aid student enquiry in this field.

The strongest contributions in this book are given by industry professionals, some of which have been discussed. Where the title ‘Future in Progress’ evokes the expectancy of a vast wealth of new ideas, it is surprising to find so much undergraduate work being showcased. I feel the publication would benefit from further predictions of new and potential textiles and technology. The inclusion of still life photography and some of the other imagery fails to demonstrate any futuristic edge that would be expected under the title of the publication.

It is difficult to suggest areas for application in education other than as a tool for encouraging discussion with students. The purpose of this book is to ‘spark dialogue and conversation’ about our future creative industries and could prove successful in this area.

As an aesthetically pleasing stimulus it would appeal to young undergraduates in fashion related areas, and the marketing biased text would initiate thought in fashion buying subjects. 

This type of publication should be encouraged from other leading institutes to help direct student engagement in the future forecasting of their subject areas. By looking towards the creation of products, realisation can be developed through assessing future desires and needs that our future consumer will be able to identify with.

In the later part of the book (from page 166), ‘Scouting Creatives’, is a platform for a selection of young hopefuls, designers in their embryonic state that could turn out to be the success of the future. A few of these may be well worth following, and perhaps credit should be given to UCLan for encompassing such talent and providing such a supportive vehicle.