Design Fit for Purpose: Sustainable Functional Clothing Development

By Jane McCann.

Published by The International Journal of Designed Objects

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

This paper examines more sustainable design research and development for the production of functional clothing. It investigates design challenges in product development resulting from globalisation that has shifted the centre of manufacture of textiles and clothing from Europe to Asia, taking advantage of low-wage economies with rapid flows of design specifications, raw materials, and finished products. Many industry leaders care more about the results that new products produce and less about the processes and tools that generate innovative products. These low cost consumer products come from highly automated production that foster premature aesthetic obsolescence, waste and consumption. Many of our conventions and practices are no longer valid for the context in which we find ourselves. Damage to the environment has received attention from 1980s onwards but, in the design debate, the human, and hence social imperatives of consumption received less attention. This paper looks at how design can offer improvements to deepening designers’ relationship with products in order to extend the life and usability of products. Through user-engagement this paper promotes the need for a less disengaged relationship between clothing designers and their products to foster a more restrained, and sustainable approach to practical hands-on design research and development.

Keywords: Design Process, Design Specifications, Sustainable Design, Fit-for-Purpose, Design Research

The International Journal of Designed Objects, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp.1-16. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 12.660MB).

Jane McCann

Director of Smart Clothes and Wearable Technology Research Centre, Art, Media and Design, University of Wales, Newport, UK

Jane McCann currently leads design research in the application of smart textiles and wearable technology in functional clothing design. Previously she developed and led a unique masters programme in the design of performance sportswear design, with students gaining employment across the world. She has attracted major UK joint research council funding for current cross-disciplinary research in the area of design for ageing. This research brings together co-researchers, active ageing participants and industry stakeholders.