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#NTUMastered Spotlight: Aisha Asif

Our latest Spotlight piece features MA Culture, Style and Fashion student Aisha Asif

Aisha Asif, MA Culture, Style and Fashion 2019.
Aisha Asif, MA Culture, Style and Fashion 2019

In the run-up to Mastered, we will be sharing a series of student projects from across the participating courses through #NTUMastered Spotlights.

The Tiny Bag Trend

Having studied BA (Hons) Fashion Design here at NTU, I wanted to pursue academic and theoretical work further, which led to me doing the MA Culture, Style and Fashion course. I developed an interest in how fashion can unfortunately be wasteful through my design practice and chose to gain a better understanding of what makes it this way through my theoretical approach. I was inspired by the tiny bag trend from the Autumn/Winter 2019 season, which on the surface appears to be a completely frivolous, wasteful trend due to its impracticality. I chose to investigate the trend for my thesis, which aims to understand how the fashion system operates in terms of novelty trends.

Aisha Asif, MA Culture, Style and Fashion 2019.
Aisha Asif, MA Culture, Style and Fashion 2019

By investigating visual merchandising theory, I was able understand how the use of unexpected scales can create novelty in products, their advertisements and their displays. I applied Freud’s theory of the uncanny to the tiny bag trend, which suggested there may be psychological elements which draw us to objects that are sizes that we do not expect them to be. The handbag is a staple piece of a woman’s wardrobe so the lack of practical function in the tiny bag was interesting, since the smallest versions of it can only hold a single coin. By studying the handbag’s history, I was able to chart its development from an item of pure, practical function, to the various moments when the handbag was used for more expressive functions. The tiny handbag holds expressive functions as it displays the wearer’s status, as someone who lives a luxurious life they can afford to spend frivolously on impractical items, and suggests their lifestyle is elevated above those who need practicality from their accessories.

The final area of investigation of the tiny bag was the label of frivolity that it receives, which is an association that has long been made with female fashion. I applied theory relating to post-feminist choice to the trend, which suggests that by adopting things which are overly frivolous, a woman is displaying her ability to choose how she appears. While on the surface the trend may appear to be an emblem of fashion’s frivolous wastefulness, the tiny bag trend arguably holds great significance for those who choose to buy into it. Having investigated tiny bags from a range of viewpoints including novelty, functionality and frivolity, I have gained a deeper understanding of how trends within the fashion system operate.

Aisha Asif

Mastered is open to the public from 17 - 25 July 2019.

Find out more about Mastered by exploring the hashtag #NTUMastered

Published on 18 June 2019
  • Subject area: Art and design
  • Category: Current students; School of Art & Design