A round up of my Initial Secondary Research – Journals and Theories

Having exploded my ideas, I have began to engage in some secondary research to explore particular themes such as co-design, democratic design and sustainability in greater depth to see what I uncover.  This will allow me to build on my initial thought process leading up to the formation of a clear and synthesised research question. I have also just recently discovered the joys of BERG FASHION LIBRARY as a platform to engage with multiple resources including journals, news articles and imagery – previous to this I had been rigorously scouring each individual journal to check for relevancy which compared to the ease of BERG was obviously a huge waste of time (developing research skills…TICK). 1. Manchiraju, S. and Sadachar, A. (2014), Personal Values and Ethical fashion consumption, Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management, 18:3, 354-374 One of the central objectives of my brand idea is to challenge fast fashion through reshaping the relationship between the consumer and the product through customisation. Whilst it is freedom of expression for the consumer which comprises the central hook of the brand, ethical consumption will underpin it’s practises.

Key Learnings…

  • ETHICAL CONSUMPTION – ‘positive choice behaviours such as the purchase of fairly traded or environmentally friendly products and can involve avoidment and boycott of certain goods and companies’ (Szmigin et. al, 2009:224)
  • ETHICAL FASHION – ‘high quality and well designed products that are environmentally sustainable, help disadvantaged groups and reflect good working conditions’ (Domeisen, 2005).
  • Ethical consumption is not just ENVIRONMENTAL – encompasses, human rights, animal welfare and fair trade.
  • Increased consumer interest in ethical consumption due to heightened media interest and the increasing availability of alternative products – Major Brands are now viewing EC as a crucial branding strategy.
  • Ethical Fashion is now in high demand (Domeisen, 2006).
  • ETHICAL PURCHASING GAP – Although consumers express their interest in ethical consumption this rarely translates into action (Szmigin, 2009)
  • ETHICAL BRAND vs. NON ETHICAL BRAND GROWTH RATE – EB’s growing twice as fast as NEB’s (Moy and Landers, 2009).
  • CARTER (2009) – consumers are willing to pay a premium if the ethics are clearly visible.
  • A DEDUCTIVE STUDY centered around the hypothesis that an individuals personal values influences their intention to engage with ethical consumption.
  • The article includes an extensive review of ETHICAL CONSUMPTION VALUES which will be useful to refer to in my FMP BRAND BUILDING.
  • Highlighted how FASHION LABELLING influences CONSUMPTION – participants were more likely to buy into ORGANIC rather than FAIR-TRADE.
  • Fashion consumers are open to experience – ethical consumption presents something new/ exciting.

2. Ulrich, P. V., Anderson-Connell L. J., Weifang, W. (2003) Consumer Co-design of apparel for mass customisation, Journal of Fashion Management and Marketing, 7:4, 398-412 This paper presents a case study of co-design with the central intention of blending customisation and mass production. This is incredibly relevant to my brand-building through highlighting what has already been considered for the mainstream fashion market in this field, and will eventually form part of my FMP literature review.

The Research…

  • Builds on extensive consumer behaviour research which argues that increasingly consumers want individual needs met.
  • CODESIGN = a consumer-producer collaborative design endeavour.
  • MASS CONSUMPTION = the mass production of individually customised goods and services.
  • Casestudy style research to ‘explore consumers participation in and reaction to CAD-supported scenario of co-design for mass customisation. 
  • A model offering pre-designed components to be configured individually.
  • Consumer-driven model.
  • 34 female college students collaborated with a design manager to co-design a three piece career outfit from a style bank of garment components.
  • Key Theme = the use of TECHNOLOGY to satisfy individual wants.

Key findings…

  • All the practises of leading highstreet brands are rooted in a standardised mass-production model, including the relationship they have built with their consumer, making it near impossible to make the transition to mass customisation and fulfil this demand. There is therefore a gap in the market.

For example – My RM/A project proposal highlighted how TOPSHOP has acknowledged this market shift through collaboration with the digital printing customisation pioneer Yr operating in their flagship, promising ‘custom fashion at the tap of your finger’. However this can only ever function as an aside to their main brand structure, as centralisation would transform their entire brand identity. 

  • The influence of TECHNOLOGY – there was a direct correlation between the ease of the CAD software and the participants interest in the process of customisation and co-design.
  • Using modular components in the CAD programmes most participants created their designs in a short time frame.
  • Clear favourites in regards to what was selected from the style bank – highlights Pine (1993)’s contention that the co-design process is arguably the most valuable market research tool at a brands disposal linking the consumer closer to the business; ‘Through the co-design process companies could garner information on both preferred and missing styles and features…mass-customisation relationships offer companies an opportunity to learn about their customers in support of developing customised and mass-produced products’ – the creation of personalised lookbooks?
  • In regard to consumer demographics this experience was best for subjects who appreciate and seek out stimulating situations.
  • The finding that subjects who perceive clothing to be an important communicator were less comfortable with the co-design process contradicts my perspective and experience – in my eyes those who see clothing as communicative would
  • relish the freedom to express themselves as individuals. This finding could be to do with the lack of creativity of theframework where customisation is confined to standardised options.
  • Many consumers lacked confidence in making decisions entirely on their own (consumers are not necessarily creative individuals – presence/ collaboration with graduate designers would allow the consumer to access this creativity whilst retaining overall control of the product). 
  • Consumers expressed interest in the presence of a design manager to aid the customisation process as a navigator and adviser (aligns with Gilmore and Pines (1997) model for collaborative customisation).
  • Overall this study indicates that the process of co-design is of interest to consumers
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