• Applying service design approaches to create a sustainable fashion retail future

Sun, Qian, Richard, Atkinson and Savithri, Bartlett, 2023, Conference or Workshop, Applying service design approaches to create a sustainable fashion retail future at Designing Retail & Service Futures Colloquium, London, 30-31 Mar 2023.

Abstract or Description:

Fashion retail is a huge contributor to problems of carbon emissions, waste and pollution. Reducing its impact is a matter of urgency. The fashion industry has understood clearly the points in the fashion ecosystem where sustainable innovation is needed. These include the raw materials used, fabric and garment production, disposal of garments and of course retail and consumption patterns. Whilst this paper is focused particularly on retail and consumption, it recognises that the different points in the system intersect and therefore takes a holistic view of the opportunities for innovation. We argue that Service Design offers a valuable way of inspiring and guiding sustainable fashion retail. It can do so by bringing a human centred approach to business problems and a systems thinking approach to a complex “wicked” problem. In the context of fashion, service design is an approach aimed at understanding people and systems, accommodating changes in behaviour and on system level over time.

This paper explores how to actualise this potential that service design practice offers. It brings two forms of new knowledge. The first comes from identifying examples of where service designers are already addressing challenges within the fashion retail system. The second comes from exploring critically how this contribution can be expanded and refined. We do this by analysing the work of students on a leading Service Design Masters programme in the UK, who represent the next generation of service design. The analysis concludes that new service designers are already working on a range of emerging areas of interests in the fashion system: material innovation, behavioural change, business model innovation, and technology. They are applying service design to the fashion retail system in wide-ranging ways, from shaping behaviour change at the point of purchase, to building services that aid diffusion of new materials and technology to helping fashion retail actors to identify and exploit intangible assets within the industry. The paper also identifies considerable barriers to the use of service design in fashion retail, notably the lack of points of dialogue between the two sectors. It argues that service design education also needs to evolve to support the next generation of service designers to address complex, systemic problems such as building a sustainable fashion retail system.

Official URL: https://estore.arts.ac.uk/conferences-and-events/l...
Subjects: Creative Arts and Design > W200 Design studies > W230 Clothing/Fashion Design
Creative Arts and Design > W900 Others in Creative Arts and Design
Creative Arts and Design > W900 Others in Creative Arts and Design > W990 Creative Arts and Design not elsewhere classified
School or Centre: School of Design
Date Deposited: 13 Mar 2023 14:13
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2023 08:38
URI: https://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/id/eprint/5295
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