Little Doubts Everywhere

Harry Callahan, Acme Sign Shop, Providence, 1977. Courtesy of ICP.

In the wake of the global Covid-19 pandemic the world of luxury fashion intensified its doubt about one of the governing rules of the fashion system: the premise of acceleration. In previous decades it was often young or rather avant-gardist designers who challenged the workings of the fashion system as they operated within the wider process of the intellectualisation of luxury fashion.1  The fast pace of fashion production and consumption and the harm such rhythm causes to clothing makers, clothing wearers and the planet they inhabit featured prominently in the critiques of such vanguard designers who, like Walter Van Beirendonck, question ‘the Kleenex mentality’ in fashion where ‘[s]omething is used for one or two seasons and then thrown away.’2 Yet it seemed that only in 2020, prompted by the worldwide Covid-19 crisis, the world of high-fashion set on fire the idea that fashion equals acceleration.

Now more established fashion houses, such as Armani and Gucci, jumped on the bandwagon, and for the first time an industry-wide mobilisation around the urge to slow down took shape. The platform #rewiringfashion, founded by ‘a growing group of independent designers, CEOs and retail executives from around the world who have come together in this challenging time to rethink how the fashion industry could — and should — work’ proposed the deceleration of the fashion calendar to maximum two collections a year, because the current fashion system ‘ultimately serves the interests of nobody: not designers, not retailers, not customers — and not even our planet.’3

The internal gaze of the fashion system thus focalised on the suffocating speed of the fashion carrousel. Several lifestyle and fashion media featured prominent high-fashion players who called for a shift from race to leisurely stroll in the tempo of fashion production and consumption, initiated by the ‘quarantine of our consumption’ from which trend watcher Li Edelkoort believed would follow ‘a blank page for a new beginning.’4

Other industry professionals expanded on this desire for a fresh start. In Women’s Wear Daily, Giorgio Armani published an open letter condemning the ways in which luxury fashion mimics the production rate of fast fashion retailers. ‘Luxury cannot and must not be fast,’ which will ‘ultimately bring the customers to the understanding of the value of fashion and its collections.’5 Alessandro Michele, creative director of Gucci, likewise announced on Instagram that he will ‘abandon the worn-out ritual of seasonalities and shows to regain a new cadence.’6 This model of seasonless collections, ironically still shown twice a year, constitutes ‘a radical new fashion model’ according to British Vogue.7 ‘Welcome to the start of the brave new fashion world,’ tweeted fashion journalist Vanessa Friedman of the New York Times, after Michele published his statement. As a result of the doubt circulating in luxury fashion, the system would hit the brakes. Moreover, this deceleration was presented as a clear break, a rupture with the temporal build-up of the fashion system.

In this essay we explore the type of doubt that currently circulates most in the high-fashion industry, and term it ‘little doubts.’ We consider the fashion system’s investment in ‘little doubts’ in relation to the more game-changing variant of ‘radical doubt’ through the lens of the philosophy and history of science, while also drawing on insights from system’s theory, as formulated by environmental scientist Donella H. Meadows in Thinking in Systems.8

The notion of ‘paradigm,’9 or ‘[t]he shared idea in the minds of society, the great big unstated assumptions, [that] constitute that society’s paradigm, or deepest set of beliefs about how the world works,’10 runs through these conceptualisations as a common thread. The ‘paradigm’ concept enables us to develop how merely correcting the existing system, or engaging in ‘little doubts,’ will not open up a system’s horizon to newness, in the way philosopher Walter Benjamin understood the new, i.e. as an interruption of continuity and not just as ‘novelty – the interruption that figures within continuity and thus does not figure as an interruption as such.’11

By asking the question what or who is being served by the little doubts now oozing through the cracks of the luxury fashion system, we explore the ways in which the current concerns about the temporalisation of high-fashion do not offer the game-changing narrative they claim to do. From the comparison between the field of fashion and science production offered in this essay, we expect to find such ‘interruption of continuity’ to be initiated at the periphery of the fashion system.

The Shame, the Shame

All high-fashion pleas for the deceleration of the temporality of fashion ask for a return to twice-yearly fashion change based on the natural seasons (spring and autumn). This rhythm might seem unseen before given that the interval between collections has seriously decreased over the past decades. Yet gradually and successfully built throughout the 18th and 19th century, the natural season model constitutes the foundation of the temporal architecture of fashion on which the system developed into a commercial powerhouse.

This architecture came about through a rationalisation of beforehand fickle and unpredictable fashion trends by techniques that orchestrate the temporal experience of fashion.12 At the court of Louis XIV a ‘natural’ autumn/winter and spring/summer fashion season was first introduced. Before, one could not predict the trends that would follow, making it difficult for clothing makers to anticipate the wearers’ demand. Moreover, it was often the wearers who influenced which styles or ornaments were in fashion, not the industry. Louis XIV’s Minister of Finance decided that the press was a convenient instrument for this process of rationalisation. The court journal Le Mercure Galant began to announce in the early spring and autumn what people were expected to wear at court. By timing the reports following the model of twice yearly fashion change the press evoked negative emotions about current outfits and prompted courtiers to invest in new attire. Of course, older sources also mention the shame surrounding clothes that are deemed old-fashioned by others, who hereby demonstrate their fashionability. This occurs for instance in the 13th century novel Le Roman de la Rose ou de Guillaume de Dole, where a group of fashionably dressed ladies and knights meet a group of hunters in ugly coats ‘which were not new this year.’13 Yet the later 17th century first witnessed a systemic integration of the fashion concept’s temporal dismissive logic of advancedness and backwardness which tends to shame individuals and groups who ‘lag behind’ to convince them to keep up with the times by buying into the aesthetics and lifestyles of the advanced.

Since its budding days, the fashion press has played an important role in the system’s rule of shaming people about their ‘old’ clothes (and other lifestyle choices). One of the authors experienced the effect of this controlling strategy when, after ticking most boxes in an ‘interior bingo’ editorial in the weekly magazine of a Belgian high-quality newspaper,14 she looked at her home through the eyes of others. Seeing the many plants, the white walls, the grey sofa and the white Danish kitchen with black countertops, made her feel out of place. She viewed her home as a lifestyle choice, felt out of joint with the times, and began to contemplate if she should buy a can of dusty pink paint for the white-coloured ceilings (one of the more up-to-date changes to be made according to the interior bingo). All definitions of shame agree on the principle described above; because the ashamed individual is afraid not to belong, he accepts the lead of the ones who set him aside,15 or at least he contemplates accepting the lead.

High and Slow, Fast and Low

The doubt that has been swelling in the field of luxury fashion wants the interval between en vogue and passé to increase, calling for a return to the foundational state of the system’s temporality. Drawing on system’s theory, we expect that such interventions will not lead to massive changes to the set-up of the fashion system.
Donella Meadows compares the basic arrangement of a system to a bath tub filling up by a flow of water that can be controlled by a faucet. She argues that changes to ‘the size of the flow are dead last on my list of powerful interventions’16 in a system. After all, whether several collections or merely two fill up fashion’s tub, ‘if they’re the same old faucets, plumbed into the same old system, turned according to the same old information and goals and rules, the system behaviour isn’t going to change much.’17 In light of our exploration where to look for game changers, it is interesting that interventions on the size of the flow in systems are particularly appealing to ‘the individual who’s standing directly in the flow.’18 He or she has difficulty to look beyond this parameter to the rules or even to the paradigm of the system. Too much of an insider perspective might blind people to the larger leverage points for system change.

Meadows concludes that ‘if the system is chronically stagnant, parameter changes rarely kick-start it.’19 The discourse of the high-fashion stances against the fast pace of current fashion testifies to this status quo. The various proposals do not challenge the governing temporal dynamic of fashion. The shaming and its logic of advancedness and backwardness is not addressed. Rather this logic is employed to create or reinforce the social boundaries of luxury fashion, and to delineate who belongs and who does not.

For instance, Armani pits his view on the ‘timeless elegance’ of high-fashion, ‘which is not only a precise aesthetic code, but also an approach to the design and making of garments that suggests a way of buying them: to make them last,’20 against fast fashion. The designer finds that the wearers of a trend-driven, fast-paced consumption pattern, who often stem from lower socioeconomic background and lack the taste for timeless clothing and buying ‘quality over quantity’ in which upper and upper-middle class women are socialised, operate in immoral ways.21 This turns the groups who have been found already to experience more negative emotions around dressing fashionably into lesser human beings, in a moral, aesthetic and temporal way.22 ‘[M]odern man considers his clothing as the expression of personal identity.’ Therefore, “[i]f slow becomes the new fashionable thing and you can only afford fast fashion, not only is your outfit out of joint, but it feels like you as a human being belong to the past.’23 Armani sustained the primate of advancedness and backwardness with a language of fast and slow that seeks to re-install the heavily blurred boundary between low-end and high-end in the current fashion landscape. In the end, by making clear that fashion is as much an aesthetic economy as a moral one, Armani hopes to witness a future fashion landscape where only those may participate who possess the refined taste to appreciate timelessness.

The way in which Armani and other high-fashion professionals question the speed of the fashion cycle does not lead to disruptive newness, but to a proposition for a novelty way to continue the power of the ones who took up these positions in the first place. From the heart of the fashion system now come ‘little doubts,’ which carry a sense of threat to an important pillar of the fashion system, i.e. acceleration. However, these little doubts have been quickly recuperated by the ruling logic of fashion: casting slowness in a language of fashionability. Ultimately, it renders these doubts harmless as they now serve the commercial and moral project of luxury fashion. The paradigm of fashion was never challenged. But where might we expect to find such radical doubt? Comparing the fashion world to the field of science production, its history and philosophical ramifications, assists in an exploration of this question.

Benchmarks and Outsiders

Doubt serves a useful purpose: it allows us to question the world around us, forcing us to find patterns in chaos which might lead to new inventions. At first sight scientists look like a professional group who particularly value doubt. Yet given the prominence of ‘advanced insights’ in the development of scientific thought, suggesting the prevalence of novelty in continuity over disruptive newness, we wonder if and to what extent scientists are open to new information as it comes along?24

A scientist needs to achieve credibility for his or her discoveries to stand. In science, just as in fashion, social status matters. Scientists communicate their findings to peers through diverse channels. During this contact a community develops something of a benchmark for what a reasonable scientist should doubt and criticise. If adopted by enough scientists, the benchmark becomes the measure of both the scientific community in general and of the status and belonging of the individuals who maneuver the field.

Self‐affirming reasoning then lurks around the corner and may well be woven into the field’s standard practice.25 Warnings of possible errors are typically not taken seriously by peer-scientists, do not result in peer-reviewed publications and do not help to shape the benchmark. This is how alternative models and even long‐standing objections can get suppressed from a discipline’s collective toolkit and memory. Moreover, expert over‐confidence or the tendency for experts to treat their own model as necessary is a well‐established empirical fact. For instance, in mainstream economics it became difficult to discern credit bubbles, because the efficient market hypothesis (understood in terms of random walks and arbitrage‐free environments)26 makes no conceptual space for it. Eugene Fama, the economist who actively promoted efficient market-theory, replied to The New Yorker in 2010 when asked if ‘the inefficiency was primarily in the credit markets, not the stock market — that there was a credit bubble that inflated and ultimately burst’: ‘I don’t even know what that means. People who get credit have to get it from somewhere. Does a credit bubble mean that people save too much during that period? I don’t know what a credit bubble means. I don’t even know what a bubble means.’27 Of course we all know what it meant as we were confronted with the real life consequences of ‘the credit bubble,’ but Fama’s paradigm did not allow him to see.

What happens to the rare scientists who ask questions that challenge the reasonable benchmarks? They are set aside, their careers often stopped in their tracks. Gregor Mendel’s work on genetic inheritance was ignored during his life, despite the numerous attempts he made to contact to renowned scientists in his time. Ignaz Semmelweis noticed a correlation between hygiene and death rates in hospitals. Yet when sharing these thoughts with his fellows, he was disregarded and scolded. Two decades later, Semmelweis was proven right by Louis Pasteur. Alfred Wegener proposed that continents moved over time and used to form one primal continent. His theory was rejected during his lifetime but is now part of mainstream science. Finally, the theory of Joseph Lister, who argued that pus was a sign of infection, was rejected by the majority of the surgeons in the 19th century, who took Lister for a whipster and in no position to defy the medical establishment. Radical doubt or paradigm-challenging doubt is more often than not pushed outside the field of science production. Such doubt is allocated to the sphere of the irrational, as it does not pay tribute to the current reasonable benchmarks.

This is not to say, however, that the system of science production does not allow doubt, because it does. But much like the fashion world, the science system tolerates only little doubts to circulate because it can translate those doubts back into its governing structures. Philosopher Herbert Marcuse termed such process ‘repressive tolerance’ or the ways in which the dominant system (of fashion and science) permits a sense of deviancy as long as the constitutive norms are not challenged to the extent that the system cannot bring the deviancy to resonate with its own premises.28 Interestingly, today a discussion of speed also takes centre stage in the little doubts going round in the scientific field. The previous decades’ academia developed a ‘publish or perish’ mentality. This pressure to publish led to an irrational overproduction and decreased the quality of peer review. Moreover, because the scientific field was taken over by a financial logic, intellectual gatekeepers were enabled to sustain dominant paradigms. An increasing number of researchers, grouped in the slow science movement, doubt this culture of acceleration, though of course they too need to abide by the suffocating publishing logic in order to be heard and not manoeuvred outside the field.

Looking at the history of science, we cannot deny that paradigms change and are still changing. Who then takes on and succeeds in such a task and from what position are the individuals operating who set in motion such disruption? A brief historical case-study illustrates that often outsiders are able to debunk paradigms.

Already in early modern Europe a close connection between social status and epistemological credibility was in place.29 In the 16th century strict boundaries between the different disciplines persisted.30 Natural philosophers and theologians had obtained the scientific right to make claims about reality, mathematicians and astronomers had not. This is why when astronomer and mathematician Copernicus presented ‘De revolutionibus orbium coelestium’ in which he explains the heliocentric hypothesis only mild controversy followed. After all, an astronomer cannot give a true account of the workings of the heavens.

Also Galileo Galilei was lacking the necessary social status as a mathematician to legitimate his findings which were based on Copernicus’ heliocentrism. But by refashioning himself into a new type of philosopher at the Court of the Medici, Galileo found a way out. Because philosophers perceived Galileo’s claims as an invasion into their own domain, they employed the tactic of delegitimisation and presented Galileo’s hypothesis as coming from a lower discipline. Yet because this hierarchy of the disciplines was embedded in the universities and not at court, Galileo’s move to the court life permitted him to be more than a university mathematician. He became a court philosopher, using his outsider position to claim the right to challenge the dominant geocentric paradigm. As a court philosopher he published several works in which physical theories are based on heliocentrism as a reality, not as a mathematical instrument.31 ‘The great book of nature,’ Galileo noted in his 1623 essay ‘The Assayer,’ ‘is written in mathematical language.’ Yet the Catholic Church tried to put the genie back in the bottle: Galileo was forbidden to teach, publish or defend heliocentrism in 1616, leading up to house arrest in 1633, because in fact Galileo did not stop publishing and discussing his ideas. One of the greatest scientists of all times thus started out as an outsider with little social credibility to make claims about reality. Yet by creating a new identity as a court philosopher, he shook the tree of geocentrism and could pave the way for Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein.

Traps and Opportunities

This much is clear: in both the fields of science and fashion a bias against the disruptive newness stemming from radical doubt is flourishing, which is why game-changing insights often take so long to enter or even do not make it into the annals of scientific or fashion history. The hierarchical organisation of both fields plays an important role in this dynamic. Recent studies have shown that such hierarchical structure discourages new people from joining and presenting possible unconventional ideas.32 Much is lost because of it. Refusing to set things on fire does not generate a richer soil – it merely allows to grow plants from the same family. So what can be done? Below we propose an explorative and humble way forward.33

Meadows discusses several traps in a system that might turn into opportunities for system change when addressed appropriately. In general we believe that the fashion system has a bad reputation when it comes to moral standards. This might lead to the trap of ‘drift to low performance.’34 Moral standards are performative in the sense that low standards become the benchmark for future choices. Deviations from the lower standard are then considered smaller trespasses than if this behaviour were measured against higher moral standards. Clearly the performativity is rooted in the expectations people have of the system’s behaviour, which immediately opens up an escape route.

Much like the way in which the robust finding of the ‘Pygmalion effect’ in educational science demonstrates how teachers’ positive expectations of the performance of a student impacts the learning process (because of an upwards cycle in which the student senses the expected high standards, in turn encouraging self-esteem and confidence which leads to more time and energy invested in school),35 we should ‘[k]eep performance standards absolute. Even better, let standards be enhanced by the best actual performances instead of being discouraged by the worst.’36 In diverse segments of the fashion industry, we may find examples of fashion professionals and organisations that set the bar high. We need to teach those examples to future generations of fashion professionals. Likewise we need to ask ourselves if the higher moral standard that proposals such as #rewiringfashion undoubtedly aim for, reaches high enough when the good of designers, retailers, costumers and the planet are kept in mind, but not the good of the people who make much of the clothes circulating in the fashion system (#rewiringfashion fails to mention them). Turning this system trap into an opportunity requires much attention to the system’s goals. These goals erode easily when all people are presented with to form their expectations on are alienating experiences of fashion that lead one to paint ceilings pink, to head out to buy yet another new dress out of fear that others might notice that you have worn the ones hanging in your wardrobe several times, or to scapegoat groups who cannot afford luxury fashion.

Thinking through the goals and performance standards of the fashion system, begs the question for what kind of doubt we are educating the next generation of fashion professionals: little doubts or radical doubt? Do we want them to be aware of the current paradigm they are expected to work within or not? Do we also seek to offer them tools for cultivating paradigms that we have not been able to articulate so far, to envision and to shape? We agree with critical fashion practitioner Femke de Vries that we ‘have to make sure that fashion isn’t educated through the industry and its media outlets.’37 Triggering an imagination of the type that Flemish philosopher Kris Pint calls ‘resistance of imagination’ (‘verbeeldingsverzet’ in Dutch) and that dares to resist the status quo rather than tinkering at the margins is key. Pint describes how this type of imagination begins with the sensation ‘I do not feel at home here,’ which ‘opens the empty space in the self where suddenly one can experiment with hitherto unthinkable practices and ideas.’38

One way in which fashion education – and all types of education – can tend to this resistance of imagination is paying close attention to and debating with students the words, language and discourse of fashion as a cultural phenomenon and industry. Meadows describes how interventions in the language used in systems offer a strong leverage point for system change, if the language ‘is as concrete, meaningful and truthful as possible’ and if one can ‘enlarge language to make it consistent with our enlarged understandings of systems.’39 Speaking from classroom experience and not from empirically gathered data, we noticed that an increasing number of fashion students finds it hard to present themselves with the f-word, rather seeking shelter in expressions such as ‘I make clothes.’ In addition, some fashion professionals working in the periphery of the fashion system, like Dutch designers Elisa van Joolen and Anouk Beckers and the fashion collective Painted Series, refer to the people they design for not as ‘consumers’ but as ‘clothing wearers’ or ‘wearers.’

Both the current proposals for slowing down fashion change stemming from the heart of the fashion industry, which we believe originate from the intention of setting higher moral standards (but not high enough), and these language experiments of people who are still in-training or deliberately placing themselves outside or at the margins of the system illustrate the increasing pressure on the current paradigm of fashion. It signals that a growing number of people who somehow align themselves with the creation of fashion seek to carve out for themselves a space to feel at home in the designs they create and the clothes they wear.

Yet we concur with Meadows that in the long run the alternative fashion worlds imagined by interventions on the discourses of fashion might spark bigger changes in the system because of the well-established performativity of language. ‘Words are not innocent. They sway from deeds to imagination,’ noted novelist Stefan Hertmans.40 When taking into account that with repeated phrases like ‘the more stitches, the less riches’ characters in the novel Brave New World are taught to consume, and that in psychological experiments ‘the subtle use of the world ‘consumer’ seems to suffice to stir up mistrust and to let people pass on responsibility,’41 looking at the flip side of the coin reveals an opening to a genuine new fashion world where the use of a more concrete language – we are all clothing wearers – stirs us away from triggering the rugged side of human nature, and towards a new paradigm.

Blind Spots

At best education presents a necessary platform to cultivate an openness to be aware of and to be able to question a system’s paradigm. Yet the question what such openness towards paradigm change offers both fashion and science remains unanswered.

Paradigmatic awareness leads to identifying biases in scientific thinking patterns. Standpoint theories illustrate how one should not trust blindly the rational capacities of science. For instance, research in DNA-based medicine still views people of European ancestry as the dominant standard for all of humanity. Human diversity is disregarded, which is why a lot of individuals (everyone who is not white and not male) could be left behind in this new branch of medicine. Also, people of Latin-American background do not react as well to the common anti-asthmatic inhalers as white individuals, and people of Asian descent have a higher chance of severe or even fatal side effects when taking certain anti-seizure drugs than white individuals. Women as a group need to accept higher risk of depression, blood clots, and cervical cancer, when taking hormonal contraception. Wider society would never accept these risk rates in White males. Hence, we know far less about the ways in which our paradigms disfigure reality than we believe we do. Blind spots are everywhere.

Therefore we need citizens who are aware of the paradigms that govern the systems in which they operate and who are handed the tools to be critical enough to detect the flaws circulating within a system. We need individuals, groups, organisations and institutions who in the process of uncovering a system’s blind spots dare to resist the current paradigm by imagining alternative mirror images to identify with. For the fashion system this entails that the imagination deemed crucial to the system’s operations (the proposal #rewiringfashion for instance dreams of ‘the beauty, imagination and craft that remain at the core of this business’ to return)42 does not serve the goal of eroding the system to an industry capitalising on alienation. And we need citizens who constantly perform a risk analysis of their own basic assumptions about (social) reality so that they understand ‘at a gut level the paradigm that there are paradigms, and to see that that itself is a paradigm, and to regard that whole realisation as devastatingly funny.’43

Nobel Prize winner Max Planck summarised the changing of paradigms as follows: ‘[a] new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.’44 Bringing up this citation in a fashion theory class we built on the research for this essay, one of the students confronted us with a blind spot of our own: we do not have the time to wait for opponents to die and a new generation to take over.


Dr. Aurélie Van de Peer is a fashion scholar, writer and lecturer, affiliated with Ghent University and the Master Fashion Strategy program of ArtEZ University of the Arts.

Dr. Merel Lefevere is a philosopher of science who specialises in theories of unification and feminist social epistemology at the Department of Philosophy and Moral Sciences, Ghent University.

  1. The process of the intellectualisation of high-fashion was initiated in the late 1980s and 1990s by more avant-gardist Japanese, Belgian and British designers who showed their collections in Paris and London. Their design practice was characterised by both external reflections (i.e. on wider societal developments) and internal reflections (i.e. on the fashion system). In the review practice of the connoisseur fashion press the view on the nature of luxury fashion as an intellectual endeavour was sustained to the extent that by the turn of the 21st century all designers, also more commercially-oriented fashion houses, were expected to operate within this intellectual frame of reference. See also: A Van de Peer, Re-artification in a World of De-artification: Materiality and Intellectualization in Fashion Media Discourse (1949–2010). Cultural Sociology 8(4): 443-461, 2014.  

  2. W Van Beirendonck, Walter Wordwide News – ‘Fashion is Dead!’. First published in 1990, consulted at, [accessed October 7 2020].  

  3. No author, #rewiringfashion, consulted at [accessed August 29 2020].  

  4. M Fairs, Coronavirus offers “a blank page for a new beginning” says Li Edelkoort. Dezeen, March 9 2020, consulted at, [accessed August 24 2020] 

  5. F Romano Riggio, Armani’s open letter to fashion. Man in Town, April 9 2020, consulted at, [accessed August 25 2020]. 

  6. No author, Gucci Will Go ‘Season-less,’ According to Creative Director Alessandro Michele. The Fashion Law, May 24 2020, consulted at, [accessed August 24 2020]. 

  7. A C Madsen, ‘A More Inventive Product’: Alessandro Michele Outlines Gucci’s Radical New Fashion Model. Vogue UK, May 25 2020, consulted at, [accessed August 25 2020].  

  8. D H Meadows, Thinking in Systems. London: Earthscan Publishing for a sustainable future, 2008. 

  9. Philosopher Thomas Kuhn describes a paradigm as ‘some accepted examples of actual scientific practice – examples which include law, theory, application, and instrumentation together – provide models from which spring particular coherent traditions of scientific research.’ T Kuhn, Structures of Scientific Revolutions. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, p. 10, 1960. 

  10. Meadows, Thinking in Systems, p. 163.  

  11. A Benjamin, Style and Time. Essays on the Politics of Appearance. Evanston, Illinois: Northwestern University Press, p. xvi, 2006.  

  12. For further development of this temporal architecture of the fashion system, see for instance: A Van de Peer, The Temporal Architecture of Fashion. Its seasons and weeks. In: C Evans and A Vaccari, Time in Fashion. Industrial, Antilinear and Uchronic Temporalities. London: Bloomsbury, 2020.  

  13. The original text reads ‘qui ne furent noeves oan.’ In this forest scene in Le Roman de la Rose (1210-1212 or 1127-1228) the narrator uses positive adjectives for the fashionably dressed characters and contrasts those qualities with the old-fashioned attire of the hunters, hereby illustrating the use of the temporal dismissive logic of the fashion concept. S G Heller, Fashion in Medieval France. Oxford: D.S. Brewer, 2007, p. 69, authors’ emphasis. 

  14. A Bogaerts, (Ge)Woonbingo. De Standaard Magazine, January 12 2019.  

  15. H Terwijn, Een emotietheoretische benadering van schaamte. PhD Thesis, University of Amsterdam Amsterdam, 1993. 

  16. Meadows, 2008, p. 148.  

  17. Ibid, p. 148.  

  18. Ibid, p. 148.  

  19. Ibid, p. 148.  

  20. Romano Riggio, Man in Town, April 9 2020.  

  21. K Rafferty, Class-based emotions and the allure of fashion consumption. Journal of Consumption Culture, 11(2), pp. 239-260, 2011.  

  22. Ibid, 2011. In Rafferty’s research women from lower socio-economic backgrounds describe more often than upper-middle class women the fear of not being dressed fashionably, concerns about being viewed in public wearing the same dress, and shame when feeling like they are dressed in old-fashioned styles. More than women socialised in higher socioeconomic milieus, they tend to experience fashion as a way to concur a position in a competitive social world, which results from a lack of class-based self-confidence rooted in the belief that one’s aesthetic and cultural choices shape the benchmark for others.  

  23. A Van de Peer, That Future Boom Boom Boom: Circulariteit in de mode. Metropolis M, August/September, MODE/S, pp. 68-70, 2020.  

  24. This section is partly inspired by M Lefevere and E Schliesser, Private epistemic virtue, public vices: moral responsibility in the policy sciences. In C. Martini & M. Boumans (Eds.), Experts and consensus in social science, 50, pp. 275–296, Springer, 2014. 

  25. Meadows (2008, p. 155) considers the occurrence of self-affirming reasoning as a trap of the system, as it forms a ‘reinforcing feedback loop’ that rewards the winner of a competition (the scientist whose work appears in a peer-reviewed publication) with the means (social status within the scientific community) to win further competitions. This results in fewer and fewer competitors entering or staying in the game who might challenge the assumptions that underlie the published findings. A system made up of reinforcing feedback loops thus makes it harder to maintain the openness that allows questions about the system’s own governing rules and underlying paradigm.  

  26. The efficient market hypothesis claims that markets are very efficient in representing all the available public and private information in individual stock prices and in the stock market as a whole. Therefore stock are always traded at their fair value. An efficient market cannot be beaten by analysis to predict future prices. Since investors act instantaneously on unpredictable and random information, stock prices also change unpredictably. Price charts seem to follow ‘a random walk.’  

  27. J Cassidy, Interview with Eugene Fama. The New Yorker, January 13, 2010, , [accessed September 2nd 2020].  

  28. H Marcuse, One-Dimensional Man: Studies in the Ideology of Advanced Industrial Society. Beacon Press, 1964.  

  29. M Biagioli, Galileo Courtier. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994. 

  30. R Westman, The Astronomer’s Role in the Sixteenth Century: A Preliminary Study. History of Science, 18: 105, 1980.  

  31. He published works such as ‘Sidereus Nuncius’ (1610), ‘Dialogue Concerning Two Chief World Systems’ (1616), ‘Discourse on the Tides’ (1632). 

  32. See for instance: J Wang, R Veugelers and P Stephan, ‘Bias against novelty in science: A cautionary tale for users of bibliometric indicators,’ Research Policy, 46(8), pp. 1416-1436, 2017; P Azoulay, C Fons-Rosen and JS Graff Zivin, ‘Does Science Advance One Funeral at a Time?,’ American Economic Review, 109(8), pp. 2889-2920, 2019. 

  33. We offer our views on the leverage points for system change as a first exploration of this process and hope to join forces with other scholars and practitioners to proceed in studying what the next phases of this process of paradigm change might look like and might lead to. 

  34. Meadows, 2008, p. 191.  

  35. R Rosenthal and L Jacobson, Pygmalion in the Classroom. The Urban Review, 3, pp. 16-20, 1968.  

  36. Meadows, 2008, p. 192.  

  37. F de Vries, fashion in times of the Coronacrisis, and post-crisis, June 14, 2020,, [accessed September 5 2020].  

  38. K Pint, De wilde tuin van de verbeelding, Amsterdam: Boom, 2017, p. 72, translation by the authors.  

  39. Meadows, 2008, p. 175. 

  40. P Verbeken, In de woorden van extreemrechts hoor je de rancune van de grootvaders. De Standaard der Letteren, Saturday September 26, pp. 4-7 (p. 6), translation by the authors.  

  41. M Vansteenkiste and B Soenens. Vitamines voor Groei. Ontwikkeling voeden vanuit de Zelf-Determinatie Theorie. Gent: Acco, p. 402, translation by the authors. For this argument Vansteenkiste and Soenens refer to the study of M A Bauer et al. Cuing consumerism: Situational materialism undermines personal and social well-being. Psychological Science, 23, pp. 517-523, 2012.  

  42. Romano Riggio, Man in Town, 2020, authors’ emphasis.  

  43. Meadows, 2008, p. 164.  

  44. M K Planck, Scientific Autobiography and Other Papers. New York: Philosophical Library, 1950.