Marianne wrote this text. She lives with motor and invisible disabilities. These identity markers colour her position and they inform her ways of seeing the world even though they do not define her. This text is a reflection on her work as a textile artist – not as a fashion designer – and her interrogation of capitalism, addiction to shopping, the impacts of ego in the fashion industry and the pressure and possibility in time management (i.e. acknowledging different temporalities). Cultural norms are questioned and her position led her to share these thoughts as ‘tracks of change’.

Let’s start with introductions: My name is Marianne. My speech and my sharing are situated by me being a woman textile artist with motor and invisible disabilities: I live with multiple chronic illnesses, I’m fat, I’m adopted by a Belgian-Rwandan couple, I’m born in the Democratic Republic of Congo and I am an immigrant. These identity markers, these stages of my journey, spice up my way of reading our society. They don’t make up everything about me, but they do influence my relationships with others and the way I am translated by them. Out of ethics towards you, it seemed useful to start with this presentation.

One of the most important things to know about my relationship with my profession is that I present myself as a textile artist and not as a fashion designer to situate my textile practice in the galaxy that makes up the textile industry.

It started in my twenties with questioning the concept of ‘shopping addict’: Shopping is one of the few compulsive behaviours strongly encouraged by our society. It is seen as an addiction that contributes to and feeds magazines, catwalks, social networks and influencers.

Dependence is frowned upon when our finances are in the red. As long as calculations remain good, shopping is a leisure activity whose structure goes back to the 18th century with the birth of department stores. This structure of the world in which we live is composed of, among other things, the consequences and results of the Industrial Revolution, Western imperialism, the trafficking of human beings, past and present, and the severance of the link to our environment (i.e. fauna and flora).

For more than three centuries, night and day, the West has imposed on a large part of the world to produce and buy products and services. This Western injunction to produce and buy has become our essence and our community value. Westernness is not synonymous with European. Yet this ideology tries to make us believe that it is.

Capitalism is a chameleon, and it makes us unaware of the safeguards. We knew it before 2020, and since the global pandemic, we know even more of its power and its aura. Deprived of events and routine, many of us have found refuge in systematic purchasing. Time seemed interminable; fear made us suffocate. So, we bought to escape, to project ourselves into the future. This big bang has benefit capitalism and those who hold the reins of this economic system.

During my studies in fashion design, I was struck by this culture of ‘The Ego’. Throughout our studies, those who transmitted their knowledge and experiences repeated, “Fashion is a field where there are many called and few chosen”. In fact, this expression is a lot of smoke and mirrors.

It allows us to employ people without paying them with dignity. It allows us to see only one person at the end of fashion shows, and this person becomes a deity, it allows us to close our eyes on the control of our body in the name of ephemeral contemporary aesthetics, it allows us to ignore the composition of the fibres touching our skin, it allows us to take away our responsibility for destroying our global environment.

I wanted to break this myth of the chosen one because the textile sector employs and exists thanks to millions of people around the world. The sector and our Western-centric, capitalised economy constantly and deliberately sacralises and mediates the same people to spread a glamorous, desirable and rare, uniform textile narrative. Because what is rare is attractive and coveted. This narrative develops in us: designers on the school bench, interns at the end of their ropes, frantic consumers – the desire to have a little, even a crumb of this rarity.

By creating and cultivating elected officials, ideas that one life is not equal to another and that there are honorable jobs and degrading ones are nurtured. Thus, some are overprotected while others are dehumanised. We also only feed a way of evolving in our skills, our essential and non-essential needs, our relationships, etc. through money, which is another deity. This culture of the chosen one gives rise to a general impoverishment, as if we were losing through this Western, capitalist narrative an elasticity of body, heart and mind useful to evolve individually and collectively long-term.

Time, however, is multiple when we stop – even for two minutes. On a daily basis, we all deal with different temporalities: the urgency of things to be accomplished because we instinctively react. A conscious temporality in the very long-term is well established when we raise a child. An immediate temporality and a medium or even long-term present appears in the expression ‘metro-busy-bed’. This temporal plurality is innate and natural. It is the sum of our inner cycles: the menstrual cycle, sleep, food, age and its evolution, and our interactions with the living.

We live in a society that constantly tells us that “time is money”, but this is not true. Our way of valuing our time and our existence in the West is through money, which would be more correct and honest.

The urgency is also there: we must together encourage this plurality. A kind of individual and collective temporal permaculture. To become aware of the cycles of textile fibres, of the cycles of workers in the sector, of the cycles of presentations, etc.

Personally, I have several activities and professional projects because I know, if I am sincere with myself, that it is physically, economically and creatively impossible to be a textile artist 365 days a year.

I thus became a multidisciplinary artist by obligation and choice. My various activities have their calendar, their rhythm, and on the basis of these analyses, I am a painter, a designer, a stylist, a seamstress, a blogger, an influencer, a speaker, etc.

In conclusion, I hope that with this article, I have shared with you the best of experiences and knowledge that feed my evolution and my optimistic-realistic vision of the textile sector. I wish to emphasise that my shares are by no means truths. They are attempts to create tracks of change and links to ‘move’ together in the face of urgency to live and inhabit the world differently. It is our system that needs to be rebuilt and not the Earth that needs to be saved.