DOI: 10.1145/2828430 © 2015 ACM 1072-5520/15/11 $15.00
thinking seems to be highly influenced
by those they see as lead designers
in the field, such as fashion stars in
the IT world like Jonathan Ive from
Apple and Tim Brown from IDEO.
Even in the HCI research world, it is
possible to think in terms of research
celebrities that may have a fashion-like
influence. The practitioners report
that by following or subscribing to lead
designers’ and researchers’ blogs or
social networks, they are able to learn
about design and research skills and
thoughts shared by these lead designers
and researchers. It becomes a way of
sensing the zeitgeist.
Considering this, we can see a
number of questions for our field to
reflect upon. For instance, when doing
HCI research and practice, to what
extent is the selection of methods
based on whether they are fashionable?
And does it matter? To what extent is
the field following lead designers or
researchers when doing design and
research? And, again, does it matter?
FASHION AND HCI EDUCATION
In traditional HCI education, students
take courses and learn about HCI
theory, design, and research methods,
interaction design skills, and so on.
HCI curricula commonly focus on
teaching students to be creative
thinkers, thoughtful scholars. and
skillful designers who can address
real-world problems by creating and
designing functional, intuitive, and
delightful tools and experiences. In
other design fields, such as apparel and
fashion design, students also learn sets
of skills, methods, and processes, but
in general they are more focused on the
fashion aspects of products. They study
texture, color, materials, and lighting
as basic elements of designing a piece
of cloth. They study style and taste,
including cultural, social, historical,
and contemporary perspectives.
They also focus on marketing and
advertising, and they engage in
analysis of how economic, political,
sociocultural, and technological
differences impact how people react
to and appreciate fashion [ 7]. It is
possible that HCI education can learn
from fashion design education and
make certain changes. Certainly, this
is only if the ambition and purpose is to
further develop HCI into a fashion field
in a similar way as established fashion
fields. It may be possible to move HCI
toward a fashion-driven discipline
without copying existing fashion
disciplines by going in other directions.
Based on this, we can ask another
set of questions: Should we change
the overall curriculum for interaction
designers to be more aligned with what
is offered in other fashion-oriented
design fields? Should we, as an academic
community, in our educational
programs do more to support the
industry to better utilize fashion in HCI
design and research?
If we want any of this to happen, we
need to better understand what other
fashion-oriented design programs
actually do. Things to learn from
them might include what courses and
design processes they are teaching
their students, what skills they require
students to have, what their design
philosophy is, and so on. Of course, this
raises a lot of extraordinarily difficult
questions and potential conflicts,
since we are dealing with significantly
different scholarly and pedagogical
traditions and cultures.
Fashion can be understood as a force
in our society that targets change at
great scale. Fashion influences the
design, production, and consumption
of products and services. It influences
individuals, groups, and communities.
It influences locally but impacts
globally. Fashion is primarily seen
as a social notion, something that
exists between people, something that
shapes and is shaped by individual
experiences and behaviors but has
consequences on a larger scale.
It affects, and is a result of, social
consensus, community practices,
and social discourse. If HCI becomes
a fashion-driven discipline, in what
way will fashion have an impact on
what is considered to be the purpose
and core of HCI as a discipline?
Another question is, to what extent is
HCI already part of shaping what is
considered fashionable in our society,
not only when it comes to interactive
artifacts but also in general, when it
comes to human behaviors and our
work and everyday environments?
If HCI becomes more fashion
oriented, will it lead to a stronger
separation between research and
practice (industry)? And if so, what
would that mean and lead to? Will we
see a similar development to what we
have seen in other disciplines where
scholarly research is separated from
creative work (such as with creative
writing and comparative literature)? It
seems as if HCI is balancing somewhere
in between fashion and science, at
least for now. For instance, the CHI
conference accepts both scholarly work
as well as creative work, but will it
expand to include work of fashion?
In this article we have presented
some examples and thoughts on our
field when it comes to the relation
between fashion and science. We
have also raised some questions and
discussed some possible answers about
what we could think about, do, or
change if our field becomes a fashion-driven discipline. Obviously, we
propose more questions than answers.
However, we believe that these
questions may serve as an inspiration
and be seen as a starting point for the
HCI community to think about fashion
and its role in our field.
1. Pan, Y., Roedl, D., Blevis, E., and
Thomas, J. Re-conceptualizing fashion
in sustainable HCI. Proc. of the Designing
Interactive Systems Conference. ACM, Ne w
York, 2012, 813–815.
2. Fletcher, K. Durability, fashion,
sustainability: The processes and practices
of use. Fashion Practice: The Journal of
Design, Creative Process & the Fashion 4, 2
3. Pan, Y. and Blevis, E. Fashion thinking:
lessons from fashion and sustainable
interaction design, concepts and issues.
Proc. DIS ' 14. ACM, New York, 2014,
4. Kawamura, Y. Fashion-ology: An
Introduction to Fashion Studies. Berg, 2005.
5. Pan, Y. Fashion Thinking and Sustainable
HCI. Ph.D. Dissertation. Indiana
University, Bloomington, 2014.
6. Barnard, M. Fashion as Communication.
Psychology Press, 2002.
7. Lamb, J. and Kallal, M.J. A conceptual
framework for apparel design. Clothing and
Textiles Research Journal 10, 2 (Jan. 1992)
Yue Pan is a UX researcher at Citrix.
She has a Ph.D. in HCI design from Indiana
Erik Stolterman is a professor and chair
of informatics at the School of Informatics and
Computing, Indiana University, Bloomington.