“Between Individual and Society: Social Justice Through Fashion” The theme of the conference seeks to examine and challenge fashion’s role in personal and community expressions of social justice, activism, inclusivity, design responsibility, technology, media and business. This theme and subthemes are applicable to both theoretical and practice-based research.
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Title: The t-shirt: From protest to environmental activism
Keywords: t-shirt, activism, design responsibility, sign vehicle, identity.
‘The t-shirt has become one of the prime emblems or icons of modern life... It is a sign vehicle whose functions not only express selves, but the social and political fields in which it exists’ (Cullum-Swan and Manning, 1994:417).
The t-shirt is a key item in many people’s wardrobes, and has a long history as one of the most iconic symbols in fashion and culture. Indeed, the t-shirt is cheap, classless and globally recognised (Matheison, 2008). Low price points attributed to the fast fashion t-shirt make it an inclusive item, available to all. However, this in itself raises questions regarding sustainability. This paper will consider how, through its iconic status, the t-shirt can create opportunities for a more sustainable future. This will involve exploring the role that the t-shirt plays in encouraging individuals to become activists on a personal level. The following research question arises, ‘how effective is the t-shirt as a sign vehicle to promote environmental activism?’
Using research drawn from a high street garment archive housed in NTU’s School of Art and Design, the paper will detail how the t-shirt has evolved. This unique archive is called FashionMap, and spans from 2000-2018. The archive contains an estimated 119 t-shirts, and specific t-shirts which convey messages and signs through their design and typography will be analysed. Furthermore, the t-shirt will be examined as a communication tool, with a particular focus on protest t-shirts and brand activism. Primary research using focus groups will explore how participants respond to the t-shirt as personal expressions of courage, protest and change. T-shirts from the FashionMap archive will be used to stimulate discussions, and investigate how social justice impacts on a personal level. This paper explores how the t-shirt can represent expressions of activism and change, contributing to a more sustainable future.
Cullum-Swan, B. and Manning, P.K., 1994. What is a T-shirt? Codes, chronotypes and everyday objects. In: S.H. Higgins, ed. The socialness of things: essays on the socio-semiotics
of objects. Berlin: Mouton-de Gruyter, 415–434.
Mathieson. 2008. Protest T-shirts: Designer from the Cult Independents. London. Graffito.
This research paper is an outcome of personal experiences and primary data collected during participatory co-creation with craft practitioners. The study explores the cause of social justice through fashion based on an enquiry into local practices, especially by women, who use traditional hand-skills to resist capitalism and patriarchal grids. The interview of a few designers and organizations practicing 'co-creation' to achieve social justice form a foundation for this research.
A research paper based on primary data collected from co-creating craft practitioners of India who are working towards social justice.
Keywords: Fashion Education, Gender, Curriculum Structure, Gender Dilution, Design Directions
Breaking the boundaries of the traditional curriculum to develop collaboration and cognitive diversity
IFFTI Conference Kent State University March 2020
Communal: Community is not necessarily about immediate geographic location, but similar opinions brought together by the influence of fashion and technology
Inclusivity, Technology, Diversity, Community, Innovation
Nottingham Trent University
50, Shakespeare Street,
Manchester Metropolitan University
Righton Building – Room 2.31
Research from the Design Council (2018), predicts that there is a growing demand for future skills which are difficult to automate with ‘an emerging risk of growing inequality between …. people who have such skills and those who don’t’ (6). Arguing this is being threatened by the reduction in emphasis on design and technology education, accentuated by the lack of inclusivity. To address this shortfall UK educational institutions are recognising the value of collaboration as an enabler for innovation and creativity.
This paper presents case studies from Nottingham Trent University and Manchester Metropolitan University where collaborative opportunities are embedded into the curriculum in recognition of the current industry requirement for cognitive diversity within the graduate attributes. However, the disruption to the curriculum poses a challenge and provocation to both staff and students through the mindset and culture shift to make a successful transition to the necessary new ways of thinking and working.
The session will explore the inter-disciplinary educational experience which occurred at Nottingham Trent University, involving collaboration between Mobile App Development students from the School of Science & Technology and Fashion Management students from the School of Art & Design to co-develop a mobile app proposal. The second case study involves students from the Manchester Fashion Institute investigating new initiatives within fashion and collaborating with industry professionals to develop sustainable products.
The shared findings were that students gained more strategic cross-industry knowledge, developing ‘the complex problem solving, critical and creative thinking abilities that are essential to innovation’ (Design Council, 2017:78), with an emphasis on self-critique and a greater understanding of inclusivity and cultural awareness.
Within this session, we will present the positive impact on the student learning experience, indicating proposals for the future and create a thinking space for participants to consider implementation in their own discipline.
Design Council, 2018. The Design Economy 2018, The state of design in the UK
Design Council, 2017. Designing a Future Economy: Designing Design Skills for Productivity & Innovation