This research project explored how collaborative participation of designer-makers and user-makers in the fashion design process can encourage the development of responsible practices.
In the current era of climate emergency, this research responds to the growing need to develop more responsible approaches to designing, making and owning garments. Current approaches to extend the garment lifecycle are often focused on the ability for garments and materials to be reused, more emphasis on wearers’ relationship with garments could offer innovative ways to encourage behaviour change. Fashion education is often viewed as contributing to unsustainable practices; however, education has the promise to transform approaches to fashion design for sustainability.
This research project is embedded in a Further Education context, with the potential for its impact to ripple to the surrounding context and participants future practices. The project intention was to develop teaching approaches that actively involving the wearer of a garment in the design process. Collaboration between designers and wearers takes advantage of the required skill and experience of the designer, and takes account of the wearers’ requirements. Working collaboratively as a group has the added value of sharing skills; the development of a positive making environment; contribution to a common goal; and finding a community of like-minded people. As a result of participation in the project, a group of students set up a Sustainability Collective based within the FE context, promoting responsible design and consumption behaviours.
This research project identified the need for teaching approaches that encourages responsible practices. Specifically, when the user is included in the design process leading to increased wearer-garment attachment. Engagement in ‘Skilled Hands’ has highlighted the empowering impact of finding a community of like-minded people. I would like to continue this work both within the FE and HE context.