Fashion and clothing are part of a universal experience, the textile and clothing industries occupying a powerful global position in both economic and socio-cultural terms. It is however a field which is under-researched and under-represented academically. Interrogating Fashion is a research cluster, led by Sandy Black, which takes a comprehensive view of fashion in its broadest sense. It was developed during 2005 under the Designing for the 21st Century initiative jointly funded by two UK research councils EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences) and AHRC (Arts and Humanities). The purpose was to establish a much-needed forum for the discussion of issues surrounding fashion today, and to consider new paradigms for design and manufacturing in the industry. It brought together a wide-ranging group of academics and practitioners: fashion and textile designers, artists, industrial designers, technologists, computer and material scientists, cultural theorists, design theorists, marketers, and researchers in industry in order to interrogate fashion, and challenge existing practices and processes for fashion design. The cluster activities aimed to identify key questions and develop a research agenda which will have genuine impact on both academia and the manufacturing sector, to develop products and processes which will, by design, be inherently more sustainable. Textiles are clothing are now the focus of increasing attention as the carriers of an ever-growing range of functionalities. As we apply new ways of thinking, new technologies, materials and processes, this leads to a change in the role and responsibilities of the textile and fashion designer, and the requirement to integrate our personal, social, cultural, ethical and environmental agendas. The paper presents a case study of the concepts, development and continuing work of the cluster and discusses the methods used to engage diverse participants and debate ideas and issues in cluster workshops and in public debate and performance demonstrations at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA), London and at the final symposium at London College of Fashion in November 2005.
|Keywords:||Design Practice, Design Demonstration, Interdisciplinary Workshops, Interrogating Fashion|
Reader in Fashion Design and Technology, Research Department, London College of Fashion, University of the Arts London, London, UK
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