Same same but different: The sustainable possibilities of transformable design.

Thumbnail Image
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
School of Arts, Design and Architecture | Master's thesis
Degree programme
Master’s Programme in Fashion, Clothing and Textile Design
This master’s thesis addresses the problem of short garment lifespans. The work presents a creative modular clothing design that strives to break free from the incredibly wasteful nature of the fashion industry. The main aim for the thesis is to design clothing that can transform and thereby tackle the static nature of conventionally produced garments. The aspirations for the modular clothing concept are to satisfy the changing needs and wants of the wearer, through which to lengthen the garment life. The thesis consists of two parts: a theoretical component and creative design work. The research methods cover a literature review and practice-led-research and as a combination they allow a holistic way to challenge the dominant linear cycle of fashion. This approach seeks to enable garments own longevity through modular clothing design and to confront the stubborn conception of what ecological and ethical clothing is. The theoretical component concentrates on investigating the sustainable possibilities of transformable clothing design. The literature review acknowledges strategies that are suggested to favour better person-product attachment and product longevity. These strategies are transformability, emotional durability, and participatory design. Specific attention is given to sustainable benefits unique to modular design, which is a design strategy under the larger concept of transformable design, and which is chosen to inform the creative part of the thesis. The thesis charts the development of an alternative design framework, which started during the first years of my master studies. The design process from the first steps into the final results are presented in the study. The thesis illustrates a method by which the identical square module shapes can be formed into wearable silhouettes. The final unique module structure along with the different attachment components are described in detail. Finally, the work presents a modular clothing collection of nine looks (including 11 individual garments), which were designed and produced to demonstrate how diversely the thesis aspirations work in practice. The outcome of the thesis is a modular design concept where a promise of longevity is embedded in the structure of the modules. Through the possibility to assemble and reassemble, the modular clothes entail a promise of fashion novelty. Overall, the research offers an insight into alternative design strategies that present new perspectives and meaningful connections to sustainability. The thesis can benefit future studies on transformable clothing and it would be also interesting to study user experiences on the concept’s functionality and desirability.
Hirvonen, Pirjo
Thesis advisor
Hyötyläinen, Ilona
Karell, Essi
modular design, transformable clothing, sustainability, life cycle, emotional durability, longevity, modularity, modular garments
Other note