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Designing for and with garment repair: an exploration of future possibilities

Durrani, Marium; Niinimäki, Kirsi; Mclauchlan, Shirley

Over the years, the increasingly domineering heavy hand of the fashion industry’s ‘take make-waste’ production paradigm has contributed to the creation of systems that support fast production, easy purchases and frequent disposal of inexpensive, poorly designed and often low-quality garments. Prior research has slowly but steadily been working towards highlighting the fundamental role that garment mending can play in supporting product longevity. While addressing clothing breakages through mending has been considerably explored as a user practice, how it can inform the process of garment design has remained under-researched. Therefore, this paper takes its theoretical inspiration from ‘broken-world thinking’ with a repair-centred sensibility as its point of departure. Here we take malfunction, as opposed to innovation or design, as the starting point of change and garment design. Through this paper we then explore the opportunities to introduce and weave a repair ethos into every stage of the garment design process. In this way, we highlight the inseparability of repair from design and the importance that basic design decisions can have for facilitating cultures of mending. We also identify the challenges and opportunities that such an approach entail. This paper presents findings from three student workshops in three design universities in different geographical locations. By exploring the preliminary results of this work we open up a discussion on re-evaluating present-day fashion design approaches by initiating a move towards a design sensibility for repair which is fundamental to the process of fashion design, particularly in the context of sustainability.
Published in: PLATE – Product lifetimes and the environment : 3rd PLATE Conference, September 18–20, 2019 Berlin, Germany, Universitätsverlag der TU Berlin
Published by ISBN 978-3-7983-3125-9