Technology, Tradition, and Creativity in Apparel Designers: A Study of Designers in Three US Companies

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Traditional design practices can be difficult to support in a digital world where information is abundant and instantaneous. Though apparel has a long tradition as a hands-on field, designers are increasingly using more CAD and Web technology for speed, accuracy, and cost savings. However, the need for innovation is critical for apparel companies to succeed in a market that has little differentiation. Finding a way to nurture a designer’s creativity is an investment in human resources. This research explores the relationship between technology use, use of traditional hands-on methods, and the level of creativity in apparel designers. Twenty-nine apparel designers from three apparel companies responded to a survey to report use of technology or hand methods at work and home and also completed the Abbreviated TorranceĀ® Test for Adults as a measure of creative ability. Results indicated that designers with the highest creativity level (7) participated in more diverse activities at work and at home, engaging in more cultural/learning experiences. Maintaining a work- and lifestyle that supports an environment of exploration may be related to higher creativity levels. It was important to many of these designers to find a balance between the demands for speed and accuracy that are so essential to get work done in a timely manner and the need to carve out time for play and exploration that nurtures the ability to generate new ideas.

Keywords: apparel designer; craft; creativity; technology

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: November 1, 2010

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