Shah, Karen and Kahabi, Charles (2016) Revolutions Come in Cycles: Mapping New Paradigms in Fashion Research and Practice To Social Change. In: Fashion: Exploring Critical Issues, 8th Global Meeting, 5 - 7th September 2016, Mansfield College, Oxford. (Unpublished)

Clothing holds a unique place in our society. It touches our skin and helps in the formation of our identity. It is an outer to our inner and contains within its makeup both intrinsic and extrinsic values. Fashion, with its reliance on inbuilt obsolescence has oft been viewed with scepticism by those who see the speed of change contributing to overconsumption and leaving in its wake mountains of waste. This paper will take these negative practices and drawing on contexts from developmental and environmental perspectives, investigate how new paradigms in fashion research and practice are both responding to and pushing forward social change for the better. Concepts such as zero waste pattern cutting, recycling/ upcycling, anti-consumerist tendencies all have at their root the potential to revolutionise ways in which items will be consumed and made in the future and how they may contribute to the emerging circular economy. Transcending boundaries between practical and theoretical work this paper will discuss research carried out to date that has explored local manufacturing and aspects of social enterprise in the formation of a fashion design collection and show how in revolutionising approaches to fashion design, make and consumption we may be able to view the fashion industry in a new light. The paper will argue the case for a further embedding of practice-led research into academic conventions and the ways in which this form of research can transform our knowledge of fashion systems and approaches to making and consuming. In considering key tenants of social change it will analyse the impact these have on the ways in which we view and consume clothing and fashion. These will include notions of thrift and approaches to pattern cutting that hold at their root methods for both the conversion and reduction of waste.

Key words: Circular development, new paradigms, recycling, zero waste, social change

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