Pluriversal Fashions: Towards an Anti-Racist Fashion Design Pedagogy

Ahmed, Tanveer (2023). Pluriversal Fashions: Towards an Anti-Racist Fashion Design Pedagogy. PhD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.000153de

Abstract

This thesis explores ways of devising an anti-racist fashion design pedagogy. The research comprises a two-stage investigation: Part 1, a scoping study of undergraduate fashion design education in the UK and a case study analysing how racialised and gendered differences are currently represented in undergraduate fashion design students’ sketchbook research; Part 2, four case studies analysing counter-hegemonic fashion design classes to explore the possibility of an anti-racist fashion design process in fashion design education. The findings from the sketchbook analysis (Part 1) showed how a dominant two-step design tactic is employed in the fashion design process to construct racist and sexist representations by decontextualising and then recontextualising differences. This tactic was shown to reproduce asymmetric power relations built upon racist and colonial logic that reinforces white normativity. These findings were then used to reconceptualise pluralistic fashion concepts in four different pedagogical settings (Part 2) by centring my positionality as fashion design educator who is a woman of colour.

Overall, this thesis argues for incorporating decolonial feminist-informed fashion design processes into higher education to counter racism in fashion by centring heterogeneous concepts of fashion based on counter-hegemonic, non-universalist and non-linear systems of fashion knowledge, foregrounding embodied knowledge and differences. The research contributes to knowledge in fashion design pedagogy in three ways: it presents new empirical evidence to demonstrate how key design tactics privilege white normativity in the fashion design process; it tests alternative decolonial feminist pedagogical approaches to counter the coloniality of fashion design, and it provides a new framework for a pluriversal fashion design pedagogy and praxis in fashion design education.

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