This thesis consists of a series of extensive projects which aim to explore a new designer role for fashion. It is a role that experiments with how fashion can be reverse engineered, hacked, tuned, and shared among many participants as a form of social activism. This social design practice can be called the hacktivism of fashion. It is an engaged and collective process of enablement, creative resistance, and DIY practice, where a community share methods and experiences on how to expand action spaces and develop new forms of craftsmanship.
In this practice, the designer engages participants to reform fashion from a phenomenon of dictations and anxiety to a collective experience of empowerment, in other words, to make them become fashion-able. As its point of departure, the research takes the practice of hands-on exploration in the DIY upcycling of clothes through “open source” fashion “cookbooks”. By means of hands-on processes, the projects endeavor to create a complementary understanding of the modes of production within the field of fashion design.
The artistic research projects have ranged from DIY-kits released at an international fashion week, fashion experiments in galleries, collaborative “hacking” at a shoe factory, engaged design at a rehabilitation center as well as combined efforts with established fashion brands. Using parallels from hacking, heresy, fan fiction, small change and professional amateurs, the thesis builds a non-linear framework by which the reader can draw diagonal interpretations through the artistic research projects presented.
By means of this alternative reading, new understandings may emerge that can expand the action spaces available for fashion design. This approach is not about subverting fashion as much as hacking and tuning it, and making its sub-routines run in new ways, or in other words, bending the current while still keeping the power on
The author owes a tremendous debt of gratitude to the many people who made this dissertation possible. For any good thing about this thesis, he is but one to credit. For every idea, initiative or project, a large group of fantastic people, communities, organizations, institutions, galleries, material, and machinery are to be appraised.
The full multiplicity of them cannot be acknowledged here. Some of them are mentioned at the end of the thesis, but the hope is that the people involved recognize themselves in this work. The author is very happy to have come in their way, share ideas and practices, and experience some of the worlds through their work.
Without all their devoted efforts and fantastic enthusiasm, this thesis would never have been. Despite the author’s love for collaborative ventures, the reason there is only one author’s name on this thesis is that someone had to put all these experiences into the format of a thesis. That someone also has to take responsibility for the shortcomings.
That someone is the author. But he is just one among many contributors. This work is fully dedicated to all the committed and energetic participants in the projects cited throughout this publication; the anonymous amateur, the peripheral fashionista, and Everyman engaged in fashion and social development