An examination of the creative process and the sustainable fashion design practice: an up-cycle perspective

Rosner, Kim M.
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
University of Delaware
The purpose of this research was to assess the creative process of fashion design for applicability to sustainable design when utilizing the strategy of up-cycling. Utilizing the historical nature of creative reuse of garments and tools of a fashion design practice, the research addressed the sustainability challenge of reuse of existing garments. Documented historical solutions from the decades of the 1920s and 1940s acted as an inspiration to inform a contemporary collection. The specific research questions the study addressed were as follows: 1) How are the historical solutions of reuse of garments applicable to an up-cycled fashion collection? 2) Will working through the sustainable design strategy of up-cycling change the design process? Literature on the creative process, the paths of the creative process, fashion design tools and the creative process of sustainable designers was reviewed and a theoretical framework was developed. A checklist/considerations method was developed from the literature review and theoretical framework to gather reflective data while going through the design process. A review of up-cycled techniques from the 1920s inspired a small fashion collection and tested the process of development. After a revision of the checklist/considerations and the process they measured, another data collection involved the upcycle techniques of the 1940s inspiring a new fashion collection and tested the revised process. The historical techniques found during the research were useful in guiding the creative process and offered diverse and motivating solutions from a creative perspective. The research also identified necessary changes to the fashion process to accommodate the sustainable design strategy of upcycling. Sourcing for surplus garments needs to take place early in the process and making dressmaker samples should be carried out after sourcing to determine if designs are viable. Sketching is best done after all the research, sourcing and making of dressmaker samples so that the sketch acts as a tool to record ideas and inspirations as completed garments. The result of sketching later in the process yielded some sustainability outcomes as the more complete garments represented by sketching appeared to decrease the amount of energy used during the creative process. Although the checklist/considerations had been developed to support the data collections, it was concluded that it also provides a useful guideline to assist a design practitioner on the sustainable process of up-cycling with emphasis on three sections of note; design, sustainability and production. This research adds to the body of research on sustainable practices and offers an opportunity for investigation of the creative processes and design via up-cycling with the opportunity to bridge research with viable products destined for an up-cycled marketplace.