About this blog…

Currently, I am completing a PhD at London College of Fashion: “A Participatory Approach to Sportswear Design for People with an Upper Limb Impairment and Difference.” Most recent posts describe the aim, framework and methodology of this design research, which engages with the community to enhance disability inclusion within sportswear and fashion. Please feel free to contact me or leave any comments/questions! The best innovation and meaningful inclusion comes through on-going dialogue and collaboration. 

This blog also discusses previous Masters research on sportswear innovation practice through design-driven collaboration with biomechanics experts. Samples of the resulting design workshop kit are included on the portfolio page, along previous technical design work. 


Sportswear Experience Mapping

Taking cues from oft-used user journey or consumer experience mapping, this activity (built in Miro) maps a sportswear user experience. It was applied in user workshops to map the body-sportswear interaction of various consumers with an upper limb impairment or difference. A creative thinking warm-up, this activity helped to think through key interactive touch points with sportswear use. After determining sportswear-related barriers and positive experiences, ideal designs for this consumer group were explored through open idea generation brainstorming.

The image shows a grid titled what were your past experiences? The first row is titled Challenge: what made this difficult? The second row is titled Opportunity: what worked well? There are four columns: choose a garment, put it on, workout, and remove it. Each cell is populated with virtual post-it notes. There are green post-its for the challenges row and yellow post-its for the opportunities row.

Participatory Design – Stakeholder Mapping

It’s all about reaching the right people for expert collaborative input. Inclusive and adaptive sportswear design is such a complex (and new!) multi-disciplinary field that it’s taken knowledge from many different areas to get a holistic sense of this field of design. Of course, the users and excluded consumers are key! This lived experiential knowledge is central to making sure this research is meaningful and representative. But knowledge from fields of biomechanics, adaptive sports, sportswear designers, disability innovation and engineering, and more are also necessary. This map shows who was consulted throughout the exploratory research, concept building, and validation of the final output.

This infographic shows the final output - visual toolkit - at the centre, bound by a circle representing the users. Nine branches lead out from this circle and point to: sportswear design instructors, orthotics developers, adaptive apparel designer, physiotherapist, adaptive/inclusive sports coaches, sportswear designers, disability innovation engineers, biomechanics researcher, and inclusive designers.

Authority Marketing “Flair” podcast

Learn how to use “Flair” to energize your customers, colleagues, and audiences from my co-author Jim Poage in his podcast for Authority Marketing – http://authoritymarketing.com/blog/podcast/flair-energize-your-customers-colleagues-and-audiences-with-jim-poage/

Jim discusses how to reach your target audience on an emotional level using the six building blocks of flair that we outline in our book – http://mavenhousepress.com/our-books/flair/

“The book Jennifer and I wrote called Flair, and the subtitles [correlate with] designing your daily work, products and services to energize customers, colleagues, and audiences. The important thing about flair is to engage emotionally and energize people. If you energize people, they’re more likely to act [and to] follow up with you. Energy tends to overcome inhibitions they might have about acting, and help spread the word and message about what you’re offering. It helps move it and propel it around among others.”



Natural Fibers and Dyes

Written for animaná’s facebook page, published on 6 May 2016:
Our supply chain begins with the sustainable breeding of the four types of South American camelids — two of them wild (guanaco and vicugna) and two domesticated (llama and alpaca). Guanacos and vicugnas are protected species that live in the heights, and the latter are bred in semi-captivity to obtain the finest and most precious wool. Wild herds of both animals are moved towards pens, through a process called “chaku”, where their soft fleece is manually trimmed with scissors.
We also work with industrially spun fibers, but only in their natural shades or naturally dyed, without any chemicals. These natural fibers acquire their colors from the elements provided by the same land that saw them come to life. Flowers, seeds, fruits and tannins provide the necessary colors for both the traditional and fusion designs. The fibers are dyed in trays of hot water that are later drained off and left to dry in the sun, and they are then pressed to eliminate imperfections. As a result, the products respect the unique quality of each fiber: their softness, delicacy and comfort. Natural fibers are an excellent renewable resource, being 100% biodegradable and carbon neutral. For orange, blue and red colored garments, natural dyes are used to enhance the color effect. Other fibers we work with include Andean silk, organic pima cotton (in its natural colors which range from neutral to yellows and browns), merino wool, chaguar, and other natural raw materials such as onyx, nickel, and silver. Artisans spin the fibers by hand and dye them with pigments obtained from native plants, reviving the techniques inherited from our rich history.
Here we present the traceability story of an animaná product, from raw materials to the end- product:
  • Our supply chain begins with the sustainable breeding and shearing of South American camelids in a free environment within the Andes.
  • Classifying and separating the fibers by color, length and thickness is a fundamental stage of the process, after which begins the cleaning of the fibers in pools of hot water and special soaps containing natural elements from the Andes.
  • In order to dye the fibers, we work to recuperate the art of the natural tints, as this knowledge has dissipated in many regions due to extensive use of anilines. The very old from remote villages recall original dyeing techniques from the communities we work with in Peru.
  • The fibers are then manual yarn-spun together with floor, vertical and waist looms. The spinning is defined according to its composition. We look for uniformity in fibers, colors, composition and length.
  • In order to warp the textiles the threads are manually placed in a way which forms the design. Once collocated on the loom the manual weaving begins. One-by-one knots are made with each thread. The pressing is also done manually to eliminate any imperfections (missing threads, knots, etc.) until the textile is perfected, rolled up and ready for sale.
  • The design of each product allows the raw materials to speak for themselves. We believe in recovering the savoir faire of our ancestral techniques, while keeping contemporary design aesthetics in mind.
Through our use of natural fibers and dyes, we demonstrate that luxury fashion, quality and aesthetics are possible through sustainable development and can work in harmony with cultural heritage traditions.