Exploring Transformable Design for Development of More Sustainable Fantasy Costumes

Hallberg, Kajsa
Major Professor
Eike, Rachel
Committee Member
Zhang, Ling
Burke, Brianna
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Textile waste is a major source of pollution in the apparel industry with over 17 million tons recorded by the Environmental Protection Agency (Textiles: Material-specific, 2021). This large amount of waste is an environmental issue that requires altered design approaches across the industry to increase clothing sustainability (Claxton & Kent, 2020). One area of clothing designed and produced that is largely under-researched is the genre of fantasy costume. Fantasy costumes have previously only been briefly studied through the lens of fantasy cosplay. This observation was made following over 15 years of attendance to multiple renaissance festivals and five years of research into sustainable apparel design. The fairy costumes at these festivals change often and require multiple components. Thus, this category of fantasy costumes is a good fit for inspiration to explore sustainable design approaches, modular and transformable design, to propose design and construction alternatives to make these costumes more versatile and long-lasting, therefore, helping cut down on textile waste entering landfills. With this research and inspiration in mind, a ‘research through practice’ study inspired by the works of Bye (2010) and Chen and Lapolla (2021) was created to explore how transformable and modular design can improve the sustainability of these costumes, from a textile waste sustainability perspective. Data gathered through photo analysis guided the design creation of a costume of this specific aesthetic and genre (i.e., fantasy fairy). The resulting costume is completely reversible and features modular elements that make it versatile in styling to generate multiple ‘new’ looks for the performer. Future research is recommended to look into expanding both the sustainability applications for this genre and expanding modular and/or transformable design approaches into other fields of costume design.