Using social media as a toolkit for co-creation when designing fashion with communities
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This research introduces a transformational strategy for using social media as an access point to engage a wider community in the co-creation of fashion design. Past research in co-creative fashion has examined participatory opportunities through mass customization and crowdsourcing, but has undervalued the source of “user-generated content” from social media as an initiative in co-creative fashion design. This usergenerated content on social media platforms can be used as a co-creative toolkit to encourage active engagement in the beginning of the fashion design process. Cocreative toolkits are used to invite non-designers into the beginning of the design process and allow further creativity to trigger different feelings, emotions and desires (Sanders & William, 2001). This approach provides more than mere product selection and customization. Otto von Busch (2008, p. 32) states: Perhaps there can be forms of fashion participation, beyond mere choosing, in which we can create our own parallel but symbiotic arenas and practices. This does not mean becoming the new dictators of a new microculture, but instead of being able to experiment with radically participatory forms of fashion. This research explores a new approach for participatory fashion by addressing the question, how can social media be used to engage communities throughout the entire fashion design process? Through examination of a case study, new strategies illustrate how social media can be used for co-creation in the fashion design process. This case study employs Pinterest.com as a co-creative toolkit for a small community of young urban professionals to virtually pin inspirational ideas that inform designers throughout the design process. Designs are added to the website where the community is further able to add input. The ability for these co-creators to post inspiration, thoughts and ideas initiates a creative conversation with the designer. Further, this open dialogue continues when the co-creators eagerly “like” and comment on previous posts. This provokes a fluid visual and verbal discussion that allows for more globally accessible co-creation over time. Unlike other co-creative toolkits used in a timed session, these co-creators are guided by their own desire to contribute when and where they want. When social media is used this way as a toolkit for co-creation, communities are invited to not only be involved in the design process but also to have greater influence over the final designs.