digital archives: a playful exploration of fashion heritage

December 15, 2023

On November 26th we ran our very first workshop titled “Digital archives: a playful exploration of fashion heritage” at MoMu – Fashion Museum Antwerp.

Ten participants had a chance to choose a garment from our library of historical 3D replicas and digitally rework them into new artefacts following their creative vision. 

The concept of “playing” is usually very distant from pieces collected by museums and fashion archives.

However, through digital means one can remove the risk of damaging the item and feel free to study, explore, deconstruct and reshape objects that are usually only available to be seen behind a glass, or gently handled with gloves in specific settings.

Creativity flourishes in an environment where experimentation and exploration are encouraged. In the digital space, playfulness invites designers to explore uncharted territory, experiment with diverse construction techniques, materials and textures without worrying of creating fabric and paper waste. The chance of CTRL+Z’ing mistakes and unwanted results also gives them the chance to work on their ideas in an iterative way, encouraging bold experiments that can be undone if the outcome is not satisfactory, without starting from scratch over and over again.

Once the digital exploration process finishes, designers can decide to bring their prototypes into reality by printing the resulting pattern, or keep the 3D model in their own library for future developments.

Here you can see three examples of reinterpretation:

On the left, the Front Fall Pants from ANGELO Archive, Ravenna (IT) and on the right their reinterpretation by Nino van Lith
On the left, the Embroidered Chemisette from MoMu Study Collection, and on the right its reinterpretation by Naama Turner

In addition to fostering creativity, d_archive serves as a catalyst for community engagement and collaboration. Designers, historians, educators, and enthusiasts come together to share knowledge, insights, and experiences, enriching the collective understanding of fashion heritage. Collaborative projects and interdisciplinary exchanges further fuel innovation, sparking new ideas and forging meaningful connections within the fashion community.

As designers embark on a journey of discovery and experimentation, platforms like d_archive serve as invaluable resources, offering inspiration, education, and collaboration opportunities. By embracing playfulness as a guiding principle, designers can access new dimensions of creativity and pave the way for a more inclusive and innovative fashion industry.

Through these workshops we hope to reignite interest in fashion and craft history, to foster a space in which creatives can have hands-on experience on otherwise inaccessible sources.
All the pattern used for the workshop are available in our Gallery.

If you have any questions abot workshops, patterns or collaborations, don’t be a stranger!
Email us at

We want to thank Flavia Bon, Suza Vos, Naama Turner, Stefka de Ruiter, Gianni Antonia, Michaela Larosse, Nino van Lith, Beyza Demerici and Philip Malmgren for their enthusiasm and participation to the workshop, Dieter Suls for the ongoing and precious support and motivation, and Fernanda Bernardi and Joon Lee from CLO Virtual Fashion Inc. for backing us up with hardware, knowledge and encouragement!

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