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Re-Making fashion experience: A model for ‘participatory research through clothing design’

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The article presents a participatory research model based on two case studies, involving the making of the research and the making of the clothing. In recent years, there has been growing interest in participatory design research, especially in relation to textiles and clothing. Various practice-based initiatives focused around the role, value and use of clothing have demonstrated success in developing and applying research methodologies aimed at activating or recording creative outcomes while staying attuned to participants’ experiential knowledge and feedback. Researchers working across social and design innovation contexts point to the urgent need for new cultures of sustainable practice that challenge the growth model through the sharing of expert and amateur knowledge and skills. Consequently, an important opportunity now exists to more formally explicate a transferable model of principles for participatory engagement through making together.

Based on a critical analysis of two consecutive collaborative research inquiries, this article posits a working model of ‘participatory research through clothing design’. The authors suggest that the model, consisting of five stages of participation: (1) communicating and listening, (2) involving, (3) activating and responding, (4) consulting and (5) sharing, offers a useful pathway when considering craft-based research aspirations and goals. The authors seek to highlight some of the practical opportunities and ethical responsibilities faced by researchers when making with others, while delineating some of the challenges and potential pitfalls raised by both case studies.

Keywords: embodied knowledge textiles; fashion and ageing; fashion and clothing; material engagement; participatory research; participatory research model

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: 0000000107270669Nottingham Trent University 2: 0000000106754565Coventry University

Publication date: December 1, 2020

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  • The Journal of Arts and Communities seeks to provide a critical examination of the practices known as community or participatory arts, encompassing a field of work defined for this purpose as incorporating active creative ollaboration between artists and people in a range of communities.The journal will take a cross-artform and interdisciplinary approach,including work happening in performance, visual arts and media,writing, multimedia and collaboration involving digital technology and associated forms. In part this will create an archive that will document work which can otherwise be ephemeral
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