Fashion-able. Hacktivism and engaged fashion design

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0aanabbllelel.jpgJust found out (thanks that the utterly brilliant and fascinating thesis of Otto von Busch, Fashion-able. Hacktivism and engaged fashion design, is available as an online PDF.

Otto sent me a paper copy of the thesis last year and because i'm about to leave to the airport i'm just going to copy/paste its abstract. It does what it says on the tin after all:

This thesis consists of a series of extensive projects which aim to explore a new designer role for fashion. It is a role that experiments with how fashion can be reverse engineered, hacked, tuned and shared among many participants as a form of social activism. This social design practice can be called the hacktivism of fashion. It is an engaged and collective process of enablement, creative resistance and DIY practice, where a community share methods and experiences on how to expand action spaces and develop new forms of craftsmanship. In this practice, the designer engages participants to reform fashion from a phenomenon of dictations and anxiety to a collective experience of empowerment, in other words, to make them become fashion-able.

Image courtesy Otto von Busch

As its point of departure, the research takes the practice of hands-on exploration in the DIY upcycling of clothes through "open source" fashion "cookbooks". By means of hands-on processes, the projects endeavour to create a complementary understanding of the modes of production within the field of fashion design. The artistic research projects have ranged from DIY-kits released at an international fashion week, fashion experiments in galleries, collaborative "hacking" at a shoe factory, engaged design at a rehabilitation centre as well as combined efforts with established fashion brands. Using parallels from hacking, heresy, fan fiction, small change and professional-amateurs, the thesis builds a non-linear framework by which the reader can draw diagonal interpretations through the artistic research projects presented. By means of this alternative reading new understandings may emerge that can expand the action spaces available for fashion design. This approach is not about subverting fashion as much as hacking and tuning it, and making its sub-routines run in new ways, or in other words, bending the current while still keeping the power on.

Related: Interview with Otto von Busch, Experiments in fashion heresy.

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Im sure alot is possible when doing it all by hand to get exactly the results you are looking for. But if you want to do it al more conveniently you should partner with a clothing factory that will create your cusom designed clothing :)

Is there somewhere I can buy Fashion-able as a paper copy?

If not... anyone have a suggestion as to the best place to get a pdf printed and bound (no coil binding, perfect binding preferable)?

Has anyone tried ?

The thesis is only available as the pdf, sorry for that. I am working on a smaller pocket edition to be released in September. It will be slightly re-edited, more inspirational, more of a toolbox-for-designer-hacktivists.
- A discussion on the ideas of hacktivism in general can be found in the book "Abstract Hacktivism" (2006) by me and Karl Palmas, available at amazon in paper, or as pdf too.. thanks for the interest.

Karl W,

if I am not mistaken, an edited volume of his thesis will be available as a print-on-demand-text shortly.

Otto - if you're out there - what's the ETA for the publication, and will it be available outside of Sweden?


Hi Karl,

thanks for the information.
sorry i only managed to approve both your comment and Otto's right now. that's why yours seems a bit at odds with Otto's.

Hi Otto,

please drop me a line when the pocket edition is out, i'll be more than happy to let my readers know about it,


Karl Williamson

Thanx - Karl P.

Please post a link when the POD text is available.

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