Dive into the Fashion design process

Through the Dutch “Stimuleringsfonds Creative Industrie” UNSEAM and AMFI have been given a chance to collaborate and explore the development of new tools that will transform the fashion design process. UNSEAM pioneers in this with their concept of Seamlessly Shaping Fabric.

Video by Bas Froon – UNSEAM 2019 – // Note in 2021 – This video was taken down. I found a video we can view instead : it shows a basic understanding of the UNSEAM context: https://youtu.be/HNTtUeG9vH8Video by Bas Froon – Smart fashion production 2018//

Through shaping fabric UNSEAM produces garments without sewing. Their work goes beyond the development of new hardware and software: It requires a new way of working and designing. To be successfully adapted, this innovation needs to connect to existing knowledge and current practice of the fashion design process. This is the background to the assignment for the Toekomstenstudio: to provide data and insights into the fashion design process.

I approached this assignment through a combination of personal interviews, assignments and three group sessions. With 11 participants we zoomed in on the following two topics:
– Reflections on the overall design process.
– Reflection on the use of digital tools now and in the future.

The data showed that there are clear similarities in the approach of fashion designers to general design process theories: like the double diamond structure. Fashion designers that take a more innovative track in the design process however deviate from these schematics. Their process works more divergent and therefore the insight for UNSEAM and AMFI would be that if the new software and hardware should target this group of designers as their target group, their software should be open to this divergence.

The tangible interactions with fabric was a clear impediment in our reflections on digitalising some of the design process in the future. In the overview of the design process I also tried to pinpoint the exact moments of these impediments. The generalised process steps where categorised in three levels :
1. the fabric behaviour can also be converted to (theoretical) knowledge and data,
2. interaction with the fabric works as a validation to the decision process,
3. interaction with the fabric fuels the process/is an essential action.

I am hoping that UNSEAM and AMFI will use these insights to further shape their new process. From my experience I believe that many fashion designers are open to change (and feel a strong need to change). At the same time there is the realisation that they are part of a big chain that is hard to completely break with. Still most people that I talked to where facing the change ahead with optimism and ambition. I loved this energy and would like to work with them again in the future.