About the workshop

We don’t ordinarily think of fashion as a positive force for sustainable practices in the design of products and services. One imagines that fashion drives consumption and premature obsolescence at the expense of efficient use of resources. However, fashion exists in various aspects of our lives. A breadth of cultural and sociological research has shown that fashion plays an essential role in influencing consumer behavior and culture [3]. Also, fashion-oriented design encourages ingenuity, imagination and innovation [4], which are crucial elements in pushing forward technological and social progress. In this workshop, we intend to explore the question of whether it is possible to re-conceptualize fashion in a way that helps us understand how to design to make sustainable practices natural and fashionable.

By “fashion” here we mean much more than what is called the “fashion industry” which deals with apparel and accessories although that is a substantial part of the global economy [1]. But we also include such things as luxury items, cosmetics, using bottled water, and those aspects of furniture, housing, automobiles, and most especially IT devices for example, which are not strictly aimed at satisfying actual physical needs but are aimed at social signaling. In the preliminary interviews that we conducted in our previous research, we began to examine the role of fashion in choosing personal electronic communication devices. Such devices have significant implications for sustainability in terms of energy consumption and pollution.

Fashion is a concept that so far has not received sufficient attention within the HCI community. Our previous research work has shown that fashion is a complex concept yet plays an important role in the IT space. We hope that through this workshop we can explore with the HCI community how we can have a substantial impact on how fashion impacts sustainability.

Questions and Topics

The purpose of this workshop is to raise awareness, spark discussion, and start shaping a research agenda in the field of HCI about embedding fashion into design targeted at sustainability. As a starting point, we intend to engage with the following questions:

  • How does the notion of fashion affect consumption behaviors and attitudes with respect to digital interactive devices and services?
  • Is there a way to embed fashion into design to facilitate and promote sustainable practices?

The potential relevant topics that we will cover during the workshop include:

  • A short history of fashion, especially with respect to IT.
  • The social significance of fashion.
  • The psychological significance of fashion.
  • The economic significance of fashion.
  • The relationship of fashion’s quest for extremes and the use of extreme examples as a legitimate and important aspect of science.
  • How fashion varies from culture to culture.
  • Exemplars and patterns [2] of fashion-related sustainable design.

Submission details

Please see our call for participation.


Participants will present their workshop paper in screen-based or print-based form during the “orienting talks” session in the morning. This will then be followed by a brainstorming session, a breakout activity during lunch break time, group presentations and discussion session, as well as a final synthesis session.

09:00–09:45 Introduction

Overview of the workshop by organizers and introductions by participants including background and a personal reflection on fashion & sustainability.

09:45–11:15 Orienting Talk

Participants present their papers followed by critiquing and explaining common definitions, issues, and topics identified from the position papers.

11:15–12:30 Breakout Activity

Small groups will execute an activity stimulated by the brainstorming session. Example: observe people using technology or interview people about their notions of fashion.

12:30–2:00 Lunch

2:00–3:00 Group discussion & preparation for presentation

Small groups will discuss insights drawn from activities.

3:00–4:00 Group presentations and discussion

Sharing processes and outcomes from group activities with time for Q&A.

4:00–5:00 Final synthesis discussion

Synthesis of day’s issues and proposals, reflecting on key ideas and themes, discussing possibilities for future work, collaborations, and publications.

5:00–5:15 Closing remarks


A primary goal of this workshop is to raise awareness and collect ideas about fashion’s impact on sustainability within the HCI community at large. We will document and disseminate activities (ideas, debates, designs) from the workshop on the workshop website, which will remain active after DIS and can be forum-enabled for future discussion. Workshop proceedings can be also documented through an overview article for the general HCI audience (e.g. Interactions). Assuming that there is enough interest and will among the participants, we will edit and produce an anthology of fashion in the IT space and how fashion impacts sustainability.


  1. Black, S. & Eckert, C. (2009) Developing Considerate Design: Meeting Individual Fashion and Clothing Needs Within a Framework of Sustainability. In: A Handbook of Research in Mass Customization and Personalization: Volume 1: Strategies and Concepts. World Scientific Press, London, pp. 813-832.
  2. Borchers, J.  & Thomas, J.C. (2001). Patterns: What’s In It For HCI? Panel. In Ext. Abs. CHI’01. ACM, New York, NY, USA, 225-226.
  3. Sassatelli, R. (2007). Consumer Culture: History, Theory and Politics (1st ed.). Sage Publications Ltd.
  4. Walker, S. (2006). Sustainable by Design: Explorations in Theory and Practice. Earthscan, Sterling, Va.

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