The Wardrobe Hack and Uncatwalk digital platforms of action and services for positive engagement with clothing
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"The choices we make about what we wear are influenced by life present, lives past and our ideas about our future selves. Expressions of values ... build a rationale for dress that transcend narrow commercial views about fashion. Instead they give us broader perspectives that honour our reality as well as our aspirations; and connect our psyche with our fibre and fashion choices." (Fletcher, 2014) This research explores the emerging field of enriching the user experiences of people involved with fashion in the post-production sector and in the post-retail environment. This is an area in which historically the fashion industry has paid little attention. This research addresses the question, can designers create courses of actions or “services” using digital media that enable “users” of clothing to embrace the positive aspects of dress for a creative and satisfying experience of fashion? The research builds on Kate Fletcher’s work within the “Local Wisdom” international fashion research project, which provided a forum for critiquing the dominant logic of growth in a world of finite limits (Daly, 1992; Jackson, 2009) by applying design skills to offer user-initiated examples of resourceful practices (Manzini & Jegou, 2003). The projects “Wardrobe Hack” (2014), developed by researchers Whitty and McQuillan, and “Uncatwalk” (2014), developed by Whitty, explore the emerging field of enriching the fashion user experience by utilizing digital platforms for disseminating and extending this engagement. The Uncatwalk website provides a digital media interface for a democratic virtual global exchange of interactions involving fashion. The Wardrobe Hack site provides a service for empowering and sharing clothing user stories and systems. We currently have a situation in society where there is low participation with clothing, as clothes are disposed of rapidly. This research seeks to address this situation to create a better integration of clothing and meaning in our lives. It aims to get to the heart of the current issues in the fashion industry and propose positive alternative roles for designers and consumers. Ezio Manzini (1997) has long declared that sustainability is a societal journey, brought about by acquiring new awareness and perceptions. Guy Julier (2008) makes a case that design activism builds on what already exists. In keeping with this thinking these research projects have been developed with direct participation from members of the public.