Fashion Thinking: Fashion Practices and Sustainable Interaction Design
Yue Pan, David Roedl, Eli Blevis, John Thomas
Fashion refers to the symbolic, aesthetic, and cultural meanings that objects carry, especially the ways in which people use objects to express their taste, lifestyle, social status and belonging to a community. Importantly, fashion can drive unsustainable consumption of digital technologies, as it can motivate the practice of discarding perfectly working devices in favor of newer ones without significant gains in utility. As a starting point, this paper considers a compelling idea concerning fashion and sustainable HCI: rather than attempt to thwart people’s propensity to want things for reasons of fashion or to exhort people not to engage in fashion-related practices, instead utilize a deeper understanding of the complexities of fashion to design interactive technology products and services using dimensions of fashion that are most compatible with sustainability. Our ultimate vision is to provide theoretical frameworks that allow human-centered computing designers to use fashion as a positive force for sustainable design. Towards this end, this paper first draws on a breadth of social theory to conceptualize fashion and its relationship to digital consumption and sustainability. Second, this paper presents a set of interviews with consumers to provide a deeper understanding of the role fashion in everyday IT consumption practices. From these interviews, we provide an inventory of design insights to serve as speculative design principles. We conclude by inviting designers and HCI researchers to think differently about the role of fashion which, given enough thoughtfulness, may actually serve as a potential catalyst to sustainability rather than to un-sustainability.
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