Exploring eudaimonia through fashion: can clothes be designed to carry an embodied narrative for wellbeing?

Campbell, Lesley Ann (2022) Exploring eudaimonia through fashion: can clothes be designed to carry an embodied narrative for wellbeing? Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

Text (Doctoral thesis)
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Text (Doctoral thesis)
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Clothing is enjoyable, communicative, powerful, available, affordable, addictive, and problematic in its overconsumption. The fashion system, driven by growth, is contributing to a rapidly deteriorating eco-system through the cumulative effects of exploitation and pollution. Material abundance negatively impacts holistic wellbeing; grounded in a reductionist viewpoint that we are somehow separate from, or above nature, created the conditions for the environmental disconnection that we experience today. What is needed to redress this imbalance and disconnection is an “alternative way of thinking of alternatives” (Santos, 2016, p. 20).

This work aims through alternative thinking, and the power of clothing, to improve personal and planetary wellbeing, living in unity with nature. It proposes and explores an alternative paradigm for creating regenerative clothing through eight principles that form a design framework. The framework provides practical tools to embody clothing with a multi-layered interwoven narrative to elicit sensory somatic interaction with something greater than oneself. Theoretical and practical strategies to inform the framework are explored through relevant literature and presented as four interconnected bubbles of Biophilia, Natural Capital, Eudaimonia, and Somaesthetics.

Thinking through making reifies the design framework in three phases of practice to produce five pieces of Alternative Regenerative Clothing (ARC). ARC evolves holistically through three-dimensional realisation and a process of reverse patterning whereby flat patterns of naturally occurring geometric forms are taken as a fixed point of origin. This approach informed by the design framework, challenges the block, the fundamental method of Western pattern cutting. The non-body contouring forms produced by this method enable sensory voids between the body and garment to be explored and experienced. ARC is outside fashion; it questions and transcends stereotypical perceptions of clothing’s form and purpose.

A wearer interaction study explored the experiences of seven participants after somatic engagement with ARC. A methodological framework was designed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis and a range of qualitative methods including photo-elicitation, wellness journaling, prompts, probes, and interviews to explore ARC’s impact on wearer wellbeing. A holistic viewpoint on wellbeing is explored, one that is grounded in deep meaning and respect integrating emotional, mental, spiritual, and physical dimensions. Analysis of the wearer’s interactive lived experience of ARC focused on unpicking transformative and wellbeing narratives to address the research question of: Can clothes be designed to carry an embodied narrative for wellbeing?

The significance of the study is that it challenges the existing fashion system to propose a tangible and alternative approach to clothing design aimed to facilitate a change in our emotions, which in turn changes our critical thinking, that then has a positive impact on our view of societies way of being. When accessed this transformative perspective can create a landscape to connect the mind, body, and environment through the ARC - whose provenance embodies personal and planetary wellbeing.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: sustainable fashion design, geometric fashion design, fashion design framework, somatic fashion design, biophilic fashion design
Subjects: W200 Design studies
Department: Faculties > Arts, Design and Social Sciences > Design
University Services > Graduate School > Doctor of Philosophy
Depositing User: John Coen
Date Deposited: 31 Jan 2023 10:34
Last Modified: 31 Jan 2023 10:45
URI: https://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/51282

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