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

Katherine Townsend, Ania Sadkowska

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The paper 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 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: (I) communicating and listening, (II) involving, (III) activating and responding, (IV) consulting, and (V) 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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-33
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Arts and Communities
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2020


  • participatory research
  • participatory research model
  • fashion and clothing
  • fashion and ageing
  • material engagement
  • embodied knowledge
  • textiles


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