Conveners (Inquiries): 

Dr Yeseung Lee (yeseung.lee@dmu.ac.uk), Design Cultures, De Montfort University                                           Dr Ellen Sampson (ellen.sampson@network.rca.ac.uk), Fashion Research Network

Design Cultures, De Montfort University

The nature of contemporary design is constantly changing. New ways of thinking about technology, globalism, ethics, sustainability, style, trends, gender, faith and culture, means designers today need to be aware of, and understand, a wide range of ideas, technologies and preferences. Moreover, todays practicing designer must be an effective researcher, a rigorous analysist and an excellent communicator. Design Cultures addresses all these issues along with other important aspects of historical and contemporary design by placing design thinking and practice in various contexts.

Design Cultures is the umbrella for cultural events within the School of Design, De Monfort University, and oversees the delivery of cross-school critical & contextual studies which is taught in each of our undergraduate programmes to over 1,000 students. The Design Cultures subject team also teaches on the School of Design's growing postgraduate provision to a range of UK and international students. 

Dr David Heap   Associate Professor for Design Cultures

Fashion Research Network  (http://fashionresearchnetwork.co.uk)

The Fashion Research Network (FRN) is a collaborative venture set up to promote and share the work of PhD and early career researchers in fashion and dress studies. The network was started by PhD candidates from the Royal College of Art and the Courtauld Institute of Art in response to their own experiences of navigating the networks already open to fashion researchers. Evolving from initial conversations on the merits and frustrations of research into fashion and dress the FRN provides a space for discussion forum for fashion and dress research.

Fashion and Dress Studies are interdisciplinary; researchers might be located within the disciplines of fashion design or business, history, art history, economics, anthropology, psychology, gender studies, cultural studies, or philosophy, for example. The broad-ranging scope of fashion research has to date mounted a communication barrier between scholars in different institutions, who have found few occasions to informally discuss their work or collaborate with peers from other disciplines. The cross-institutional FRN attempts to remedy this problem by initiating discussion between scholars with different approaches to the constantly evolving discipline of fashion research.

FRN’s cross-institutional and multidisciplinary approach encourages the recognition that definitions of fashion and dress research are determined by individuals’ academic and professional backgrounds.  Within FRN’s collaborative framework, we seek to reinvigorate the relationship between contemporary, practice-based and historical fashion and dress studies. To date, the varied approaches of FRN’s participants have led to discussions about not only fashion research but the nature of fashion or dress itself, an entity that eludes concrete definitions.

Questions we seek to explore include: How can fashion research incorporate the historic and the contemporary simultaneously? What do researchers using practice-based methodologies have to teach those pursuing research through written methods, and vice-versa? Fashion requires its researchers to be ‘‘bilingual’’ and therefore able to read and interpret imagery and artefacts as much as written texts. What can these skills contribute to the wider field of fashion beyond the academic institution? Fashion academia can seem disconnected from the fashion industry. Is this a problem, and if so, how can we rectify this?