Shah, Karen (2015) Practicing what we preach. In: Futurescan 3: Intersecting Identities, 11th – 12th November 2015, Glasgow, UK. (Unpublished)

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Negotiating the delicate balance between practice and theory provides for tricky ground as time constraints and definitions of what constitutes research impact upon our ability to practice our craft and how it may be viewed within an academic setting. This paper will take the viewer on a journey of a design practice that was initially dismissed as a hobby but which later came to define what it meant to be a sustainable fashion designer and educator. In particular it will explore the practice of recycling and how thoughts and theories derived from an academic setting have been translated into practical applications. These have included a number of outputs including a collection made from recycled clothes, the establishment of a social enterprise and a series of workshops aimed at community development initiatives and means of social inclusion. It will illustrate the difficulties in holding down a full time job in HE and a design studio in the inner city and the problems that arise with justifying and qualifying academic rigor and research methodologies. Transcending the space between formal and informal education the research will demonstrate commonalities of practice as well as raising questions relating to the need for educators to practice what they preach especially as it relates to design, manufacture and consumption practices. It will draw on approximately 20 years of both education and manufacturing practice and will provide a critique of specific academic contexts that have sought to belittle the practice and push it off course. At its root will be the contention that to fully explore how fashion theory and practice may be changing within a contemporary setting there is a need for engagement with the realities of daily life and a rethinking of what constitutes fashion theory. Images of the authors design work and personal reflections will form the background to the discussion and will be contextualized within the lens of relevant academic theories and methodologies.

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