In September 2011 the fashion theorist and practitioner, Otto von Busch, delivered a paper at the ISEA conference in Istanbul. Its title alerts us to something immediately contemporary and vitally important in developing a perspective on fashion practices and theories.

Von Busch abuts the three words ‘fashion’, ‘hacking’ and ‘shapeshifting’ in a way that points to some paradigmatic shift in how we now have to find our bearings with technologies, clothing and cultures. Von Busch opens his ISEA presentation, “Fashion Hacking as Shapeshifting” with the simple and direct observation: “Fashion is transformation. It is a promise of becoming a vessel of shapeshifting, a craft with which we can navigate across the currents of the social.” It is a promise.

This suggests, as with all promises, it is futural, to be accomplished. And like all promises, we always run the risk of this promise being broken, its un-fulfillment. Between transformations, promises and shapeshiftings we are disposed and composed to all of the risks that go by the name ‘fashion’. Shapeshifting is a capacity or potential of sentient beings, a capability of organisms to auto-transformations, as responsive agency to their setting.

To explore these concerns with cultures of transformation, navigations of the social and technologies of the transversal hacker, the one who unpicks in order to deliver our futures, AUT University will host the inaugural Shapeshifting: Fashion and Textile Design Conference, in April 14–16, 2014.

The conference theme, Shapeshifting: A Conference on the Transformative Paradigms in Fashion and Textile Design, will include papers, panel sessions, workshops, performances, exhibitions and social events engaging designers and academics. The conference will take place in Auckland at The Viaduct Centre and other venues including AUT University and Auckland Art Gallery.

Shapeshifting is presented by the Department of Fashion and Textile at the School of Art & Design in partnership with Colab and the Textile and Design Lab at AUT University, Auckland, New Zealand.

For queries please email shapeshifting@aut.ac.nz or call +64 9 921 9566.