Both sides of the coin: a teaching strategy to facilitate an alignment of the creative design purpose of a fashion designer and the requirements of the consumer
Many South African fashion designers are unsuccessful in terms of business and design strategy, by creating products that express their own artistic design style without sufficient consideration of specific consumer requirements. The argument is made that fashion design education that neglects the consumer in the design process could set students up for such failure. This paper reports on the second application of an action research cycle to implement an improved teaching approach. The teaching approach included an intervention to stimulate awareness of the need for a fashion designer to integrate the designer’s style with target market requirements as a strategy to produce authentic, relevant products that can add value to the consumer. In order to reflect upon and evaluate the effect of the action to stimulate awareness, data were obtained from participants’ written reflections and design purpose statements, as well as assessment results of completed concept design illustrations. The findings of the study indicated that, with the exception of one case, all the participants were able to attain levels of awareness, as was demonstrated in the assessment results of the design illustrations, which represented the visual expression of a participant’s design strategy. Nevertheless, the ability to synthesise ideas was identified as a major challenge still to be addressed. It is clear from the findings, though, that the strategic principles and process facilitated through the teaching approach and the subsequent recommendations for refinement present a viable opportunity for fashion design educators to pursue and adapt to their situations and needs.