Just found out (thanks del.ico.us/hacktivism) 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.