Almond, Kevin (2013) Raiding the past, desgigning for the future. In: Futurescan 2: Collective Voices Association of Fashion and Textiles Courses, 10th - 11th January 2013, Sheffield Hallam University. (Submitted)

Academic staff involved with fashion and textiles are often concerned at the level of research engagement by students; much of it tends to be over-reliant on internet search engines and magazines. This is also something that external examiners often comment upon. Many students lack understanding of the value of wider-ranging and deeper engagement with research at both primary and secondary levels. There is a clear need to demonstrate the ways in which meaningful research can underpin and inform their practice, allowing for stronger design outcomes and a richer understanding of the contexts in which they operate, both as lifelong learners and as future professionals. This paper investigates the meaning and background of retrospective research in fashion and textiles in order to assess its relevance and importance in developing student’s research skills. It describes two initiatives that asked students to raid the past in order design for the future. Although the initiatives focused upon looking at the past, they were devised to promote and establish an understanding in students about the need for expansive and relevant research, away from the ‘Google culture’. The first initiative was an interdisciplinary symposium, held to consider the impact of visual culture in the 1970s. Fashion and textile students were asked to produce research that required them to reflect upon the visual and cultural significance of the period under investigation, then produce design outcomes based on the event. The second initiative describes a live project that drew on the valuable collection of menswear held in Leeds Museums and Galleries and on existing research into the Leeds tailoring industry. It asked students to investigate this rich heritage to inspire the design and production of a range of contemporary tailored garments. These garments were amalgamated with the historical garments in a curated exhibition, which highlighted the importance of referring to historical textile artifacts when understanding how to research, design and produce future products.

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