Fashion Design for Longevity: design strategies and their implementation in practice
Dr Karen Miller
The researcher first became aware of the catastrophic effects of mainstream fashion production and overconsumption of fashion while working as a womenswear designer for a global sportswear brand. In the years that followed, she was inspired by the wide range of alternative ways of engaging with fashion, though support systems and guides for designers were clearly lacking. Consequently, as a designer she considered it imperative to seek more enduring ways of providing fashion experiences.
An increasing number of designers are challenging the status quo, companies with sustainability as their core value remain niche. And while product life extension is regarded as a viable approach to sustainable design, the means by which this is achieved is under debate, particularly in fashion. Furthermore, there is a lack of knowledge regarding how design strategies that potentially extend garment lifetimes play out in practice.
Therefore, through case study research this research first strategically ‘unpicks’ decision-making processes in three fashion UK SMEs. By focusing on small innovative labels that may be described as exemplars, simultaneously challenging and shaping the future of fashion, this study contributes to knowledge by describing fashion design strategies for sustainability. In the second phase of research the psycho-social factors affecting garment lifespans are examined. This will provide insights on challenges and opportunities in the marketplace and also useful data also for the businesses participating in the case study. With the overall aim to contribute to the understanding of factors affecting garment lifetimes, this research also examines how this knowledge can be disseminated to practitioners. The aim of this part of the study is to address the disconnect between a growing body of academic knowledge on one hand, and the lack of significant change in the fashion industry on the other.
The anticipated contribution to knowledge will include contributions to the understanding of product life extension as practices by designers and users as well as how this academic knowledge can be translated into a practical format for designers in industry. Due to the interdisciplinary nature of the topic, it is anticipated that the outcomes will be relevant to disciplines beyond fashion.
1. To support fashion designers in their implementation of design strategies for longevity.
2. To contribute to knowledge on extending garment lifetimes.
With the overall aim to contribute to the understanding of factors affecting garment lifetimes, this research also examines how this knowledge can be disseminated to practitioners.
RQ: How can designers be supported in designing garments with extended lifetimes?
sub-RQ A: How do designers in UK fashion SMEs implement strategies for garment longevity?
sub-RQ B: How do users influence garment lifetimes?