Almond, Kevin (2013) Raiding the Past, Designing for the Future. In: Raiding the Past: Understanding the Present –Futurescan 2 Collective Voices. The Association of Fashion Textile Courses, Sheffield, UK. ISBN 978 1 907382 64 2

Academic staff involved with fashion teaching 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. From the authors experience this is also something 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, in order to assess its relevance and importance in developing students’ research skills. It describes two initiatives that asked students to raid the past in order to 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 students were asked to produce research that required reflection upon the visual and cultural significance of the period under investigation, and 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 artefacts when understanding how to research, design and produce future products.

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