Fashion on the Move: an exploration of clothing as inhabited garments

Research Description

This research investigates the ways in which people interact with their clothing, and how this impacts on their sense of identity. The aim is to develop a new approach to the study of clothing that reflects individuals’ personal style and enables us to better understand the effect of clothing on the way the body can be lived and experienced. Research is based on the premise that academic discourse on fashion is primarily concerned with the fashion system, and bears little relation to the everyday experience of wearers of clothing.

Traditionally fashion theory has been based on images of clothing that have a static quality, whether this is through photographs, exhibitions where clothing sits on mannequins, or fashion shows where the clothing is used to create the designer’s vision. By contrast, this research uses video footage of animated characters to demonstrate individuals’ personal style, and their interaction with their clothing through movement. The video material is silent, so that interpretation relies solely on the behaviour of the participants.

Participants, chosen to represent a range of ages and both genders, were asked to talk about their clothing while being filmed. There were no structured questions; participants were asked to describe their clothing, starting at the top and working down. Sometimes the researcher asked additional questions, but this was intended to encourage movement rather than to gain specific information. Transcripts of the discourse were retained for future analysis, and the sound was then removed from the interview. The resulting films were then reduced to a twenty second clip, all focusing on the same part of the body. Faces were blurred, partly as an attempt to prevent identification of individuals, but also to remove a source of distraction.

At this stage, the research findings highlight an aspect of fashion and clothing that has not previously been considered. However, the methodology has potential to be used in different situations, and for different purposes. The work may be analysed and interpreted by a range of academic disciplines, for example, psychology, sociology, anthropology, and may form the basis for a future social document or archive of everyday clothing styles. However, it also has the potential for use as a marketing tool, or to provide a customer base for fashion designers. The researcher, who is an artist as well as an academic, may also use the film as the basis for some future artwork.

Ethical Issues >>

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