A "Widening the Circle: Diversity and Inclusion in Design Thinking Process" Project in Fashion Design Curriculum
Fashion is a cultural phenomenon as it is illustrated in the recent debates regarding Nike's new product called "˜Pro Hijab'. Cultural appropriateness of certain fashion often has stirred up social and even political debates. Future fashion designers, therefore, need to learn how to empathize with their customers not merely to develop aesthetic and functional designs but also to create culturally appropriate and inclusive design messages. This study aimed to enhance students' creative design capacities by implementing a diversity and inclusion project in a fashion design class. Through class activities including interview with their potential customers, writing a reflective journal, and group discussions, students found that understanding their own cultural identities and empathizing with customers are the critical components to create inclusive design messages. This study suggested that a diversity and inclusion project targeting customers who have various cultural experiences is an effective pedagogical tool to promote creative design capacity of fashion design students.