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Suffering in Fashion: Relationships between Suffering, The Production of Garments and Their Appropriation as Fashionable Items

Almond, Kevin (2012) Suffering in Fashion: Relationships between Suffering, The Production of Garments and Their Appropriation as Fashionable Items. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

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Abstract

In this commentary, I discuss several publications that explored relationships between
suffering, the production of garments and their appropriation as fashionable items. The aim
of the research was to investigate the role of suffering in initiating change within the
creation and consumption of fashionable clothes. Suffering through pain, anguish or distress is an extreme affliction. Pushing something to its limits of endurance, making it suffer, can undermine order and to survive, it needs to be reassembled in a different way. This concept is somewhat akin to Charles Darwin’s ideas about evolution (1859). A quote attributed to him declared: “It’s not the strongest of the species that survive nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change” (Megginson, 1963, p.4). His work coined the phrase “Survival of the fittest” (Peel, 1992, p.143), introducing the idea that survival is a struggle against environmental change in nature and a species evolves through a process of mutation and retention known as natural selection. In the commercial struggle for survival many fashionable styles are discarded while some remain durable due
to their adaptability to new trends and ideas. These could be described as the ‘fittest’ styles
surviving through their re-assemblance each season, sustaining the marketable cycle.

Suffering in the ways clothes are worn and produced was examined through a number of
approaches. Object based research investigated the design and manufacture of fashionable garments. Action based research and semi-structured interviews in a design environment considered the fashion designer’s responses to suffering and the changes it
can initiate in production and consumption. The research findings indicate that suffering
within the fashion industry can be a positive attribute that may be regarded as a part of
life, a prerequisite for hope, a force for change and a source of creativity. It can influence
the way clothes are produced and the skills necessary to produce them. A model depicting the connection between suffering and fashion is posited as a tentative theory suggesting there is a spiral relationship: changes in fashion production and consumption resulting from suffering evolve into a spiral of further suffering impacting on future fashion design and production.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: N Fine Arts > NX Arts in general
Schools: School of Art, Design and Architecture
Depositing User: Lauren Hollingworth
Date Deposited: 14 May 2013 10:41
Last Modified: 03 Dec 2016 10:34
URI: http://eprints.hud.ac.uk/id/eprint/17485

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