Made to Keep: Product Longevity Through Participatory Design in Fashion

By Jo Cramer.

Published by The Design Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

When discussing strategies of design for longevity, the emotional durability of a product is arguably as, if not more important than its physical durability, since unwanted yet serviceable goods will be discarded anyway. With the exception perhaps of consumer electronics, nowhere is this more evident than in fashion.
While bespoke tailoring and dressmaking services gave way to standardised mass-manufacture in the early twentieth century, the early twenty-first century is seeing a return to personalised design enabled by interactive internet technologies that facilitate an intimate dialogue between fashion producers and consumers.
Whether mass-customisation or bespoke design, participatory fashion design models have the potential to foster stronger emotional bonds between consumers and garments by engaging them in the design and/or making process. Research suggests that such a unique, personalised garment is likely to have more meaning for the consumer and result in them keeping it for longer.
Including an analysis of newly emergent participatory fashion production-consumption systems, this paper discusses the potential for such participatory fashion design strategies to effect sustainable behavioural change, considers the challenges in how this might be achieved and the impact it has on the role of the designer.

Keywords: Participatory Design, Co-Design, Design for Behavioural Change, Sustainable Fashion, Emotionally Durable Design, Fashion Design

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 5, Issue 5, pp.437-446. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 767.012KB).

Jo Cramer

Lecturer, Fashion Program, School of Architecture and Design, RMIT University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Jo Cramer is a fashion practitioner and lecturer in the Fashion Program at RMIT University, Melbourne where she is currently undertaking post-graduate study. Her research project “The Living Wardrobe” explores the potential for participatory design to facilitate both the physical and emotional longevity of garments with a view to reducing the over-consumption of clothing.


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