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Hack the black box: Consumer agency in the sharing economy

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Fashion design pedagogy in higher education needs to engage with emergent consumer-led consumption schemes that are problematizing the roles of producer and consumer. Traditional fashion design pedagogy does not explicitly teach students to reveal the systems of fashion production to consumers, thus distancing them from the materials and processes that animate consumer products. Consumers are at a disadvantage as they have little agency over or knowledge of how garments are produced in the global top-down fashion system – a system that could be characterized as a black box. In response to this, consumers and designers have been employing concepts from hacker culture and the sharing economy in order to participate in novel consumption schemes that focus on underlying values of openness, transparency and collaboration. This article reviews a number of these schemes, using secondary sources, and proposes that their underlying values be introduced into sustainable fashion curriculums.

Keywords: collaboration; consumer agency; design methods; maker culture; open source design; transparency

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Bunka Gakuen University

Publication date: April 1, 2018

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  • What are the challenges of learning and teaching in art, design and communication? The peer-reviewed journal of Art, Design & Communication in Higher Education aims to inform, stimulate and promote the development of research in the field by providing a forum for debate arising from findings as well as theory and methodologies.
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