Co-Design refers to a collaborative approach where designers, users, and other stakeholders work together to create and shape fashion products and experiences. It involves actively involving end-users and incorporating their ideas, preferences, and feedback into the design process. Co-design recognizes that users play an essential role in shaping fashion trends and that their input is valuable in creating products that meet their needs and desires.

In co-design, the traditional top-down approach of designing and dictating fashion trends is replaced with a participatory model. It emphasizes inclusivity, transparency, and shared decision-making. The aim is to create products that resonate with users on a deeper level, resulting in increased customer satisfaction, engagement, and loyalty.

Through co-design, fashion brands and designers engage users as active participants, inviting them to contribute their insights, opinions, and creative ideas. This can be done through various methods, such as focus groups, surveys, workshops, or online platforms. By involving users from the early stages of the design process, brands gain valuable insights into their preferences, lifestyles, and aspirations, which helps in developing more relevant and appealing fashion products.

Co-design also fosters a sense of ownership and connection between users and the fashion brand. When users feel valued and involved in the design process, they develop a deeper emotional attachment to the products they help create. This can lead to increased brand loyalty, advocacy, and word-of-mouth promotion.

Additionally, co-design encourages sustainability and responsible usage in the fashion industry. By involving users in the design process, brands can gather information on their preferences for sustainable materials, ethical production practices, and durable and versatile designs. This collaboration promotes a shift towards more sustainable fashion choices and reduces the environmental impact of the industry.

In summary, co-design is a collaborative approach that involves actively engaging users and other stakeholders in the design process. It recognizes the value of user input, promotes inclusivity, and leads to the creation of more customer-centric and sustainable fashion products. By involving users as partners, fashion brands can enhance customer satisfaction, and brand loyalty, and contribute to positive social and environmental impact.

Case studies

Nike

Nike has implemented co-design initiatives to involve users in the creation of their products. For example, they launched the Nike By You program, formerly known as NikeiD, which allows customers to customize and personalize their shoes by selecting colors, materials, and design elements. This co-design approach enables customers to have a hand in creating their own unique footwear.

Threadless

Threadless is an online marketplace that engages in co-design with its community of artists and users. Users submit their original designs, and the community votes on the designs they would like to see produced. The winning designs are then printed on various apparel items and sold on the platform. This co-design model allows artists and users to collaborate and influence the products available for purchase.

Uniqlo

Uniqlo has embraced co-design through its UTGP (Uniqlo T-Shirt Grand Prix) contest. The brand invites artists and designers from around the world to submit their T-shirt designs based on a given theme. The winning designs are selected through a combination of public voting and a judging panel. This co-design initiative allows Uniqlo to showcase a wide range of creative designs and involve the global community in the selection process.

IKEA

Although not a fashion brand, IKEA is known for its co-design approach in the furniture industry. The company involves customers in the design process through initiatives like the IKEA Ideas platform. Customers can submit their ideas for new products or improvements to existing ones, and IKEA takes customer feedback into consideration when developing their product range. This co-design approach ensures that IKEA’s products meet the needs and preferences of their customers.

Betabrand

Betabrand is a clothing company that engages in co-design through its crowdfunding platform. They allow users to vote on potential product designs, and the most popular designs are then produced and made available for purchase. This co-design model ensures that Betabrand creates products that have a built-in demand from their target audience.

References

Zhang, G., Y. Shi, and C. Gale. “Co-design: a novel approach to create value-added products in the creative fashion industry.” J Textile Eng Fashion Technol 7.4 (2021): 134-141.

Smith, Marcia Tavares, Gordon Blair, and Rachel Cooper. “Digital clothing manufacture: digital innovation and co-Design changing the clothing industry.” Blucher Design Proceedings 1.1 (2012): 381-385.

Wang, Luo, Bin Shen, and Xiaogang Liu. “The value of design collaboration in the fashion business: A literature review.” The Design Journal 20.6 (2017): 795-820.

Cramer, Jo. “Made to Keep: Product Longevity Through Participatory Design in Fashion.” Design Principles & Practice: An International Journal 5.5 (2011).

Pietri, Maria. “Designing together? An exploratory study on the practice of co-design between UK-based independent fashion micro-brands and consumers, with managerial implications for the future.” (2021).