Isabela B. Gygax


Fashion Designer, Visual Artist, Activist / University of the Arts London, LCF / Website

Isabela Gygax is a fashion designer, visual artist and writer. She trained at the École de la Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture Parisienne in fashion design and pattern making, and worked as such in Paris before she obtained a masters degree in Fashion Futures at the University of the Arts in London in 2018. The latter steered her focus towards sustainability and ethics within the industry, which inspired her to develop an expertise on the issue of human dignity in the context of fashion and dress. Currently, Isabela Gygax operates as executive assistant for special events at Fashion Revolution in London, a disrupting organisation concerned with changing the fashion industry from the inside out towards a kinder system that values people, the environment, creativity and profit in equal measure.

HOMO LABORANS - The Human Condition Of Dress

The human cost of the fast fashion-profit-engine is devastatingly high. Frequently reports and images of suffering garment workers provoke waves of shock and public outrage, and yet the masses will not consume less. As of late, consumers even demand branding that allows them to buy with a clear conscience.

If slowing down consumption isn‘t an option, how will garment workers evolve from here onwards, to become the machinelike, ever efficient and healthy organisms we need them to be? How will their bodies adapt the conditions within which they need to function?

The Homo Laborans is a speculative prototype of a modified human, adapted to the major health-issues in the CMT-process (cut, make, trim), in order to meet efficiency expectations. If we take a Darwinian approach to tackle the problems fast fashion confronts us with, and adapt humans to inhumane conditions of production as opposed to the other way around - will we have found our solution? How far are we as a society prepared to go to uphold our appearances?

The digital prototype is projected onto a canvas made out of white high street garments. The train of clothes is long enough to walk on. Each time the body rotates, another part of the body becomes adjusted. between those steps, clips from news reports and the film Samsara (2012) put the Homo Laborans into context.

Homo Laborans is a Textile installation with projection of speculative future garment worker, adapt to cater for the high demand for fast and cheap clothing. The installation aims to provoke the audience to rethink what human dignity means in the context of their clothing, what effects their lifestyles have on the world and how their own life is affected from the current consumer culture.

The term Homo laborans is inspired by the philosophical term ‘Animal laborans’ described by Hannah Arendt; She distinguishes labour by its perpetuate character: nothing durable is created, it’s effects are consumed quickly and to sustain life, the process is never ending