A Typology of Creativity in Fashion Design and

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Fashion Practice, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp. 9–36 DOI: 10.2752/175693814X13916967094759 Reprints available directly from the Publishers. Photocopying permitted by licence only. © 2014 Bloomsbury Publishing PLC.

Mary RuppertStroescu and Jana M. Hawley Mary Ruppert-Stroescu, Assistant Professor at Oklahoma State University, applies creativity research to sustainable design, wearable electronics, and teaching. Her academic career was preceded by fashion industry experience in Europe. [email protected] Jana M. Hawley is Professor and Department Chair at University of Missouri. She is a HERS Fellow, SEC Fellow, and a Fulbright Scholar. Her scholarship includes sustainability and global initiatives. [email protected]

A Typology of Creativity in Fashion Design and Development Abstract Creatively harnessing the zeitgeist, or spirit of the times, and translating its influence into unique, timely, and marketable merchandise has been the key to survival of fashion-focused companies since the dawn of the twentieth century. We combined a cognitive perspective on creativity with cultural materialism to develop probing questions for a grounded theory study of the question: How does the creative process for design and development function in the global fashion industry of the twenty-first century? A typology for creativity in fashion design and development emerged from data gathered in a series of in-depth inter-

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views in an international context. We defined Leadership Creativity and Adaptive Creativity at extreme ends of a continuum. Leadership Creativity overrules current archetypes and shifts the sector in a new direction while Adaptive Creativity integrates existing paradigms into a direction the sector is already trending. This typology outlines eight descriptive attributes relating to the environment in which fashion design and development functions, and designates distinct components of those attributes that categorize the creative type. The majority of work in fashion design and development today reflects Adaptive Creativity. Specifically naming and describing these attributes and the interplay between Leadership Creativity and Adaptive Creativity, the typology lends structure to otherwise ambiguous parameters related to creativity in fashion design and development. KEYWORDS: creativity, fashion industry, fashion design, product development

Introduction Creatively harnessing the zeitgeist, or spirit of the times, and translating its influence into unique, timely, and marketable merchandise has been the key to survival of fashion-focused companies since the dawn of the twentieth century. The fashion industry of today is influenced by economic, geo-political, cultural, and technological forces. This constant evolution prompts the question: How does the creative process of fashion design and development (FDD) function in the global fashion industry of the early twenty-first century? In order to properly address this subject, we must expand our perception of creativity to include not only a creative product, but also the creativity found in the system (Eckert and Stacey 2003) of developing all products, whether or not the end result exemplifies characteristics typically considered to be creative. Research about creativity comes from diverse areas, such as psych­ ology, business, engineering, design, education, mathematics, computer science, and philosophy. Scholars from many of these fields agree that creativity takes diverse forms (Boden 1990; Florida 2002; Sternberg 2006; Sternberg et al. 2002; Weisberg 2006). Defining creativity is a complex process (Cross et al. 1996), however creative ideas and products should be both novel and useful (Boden 1990; Weisberg 2006). Classifying creativity types is useful in order to understand the “nature of creativity” (Sternberg 2006: 1). Creativity has been categorized as personal, where the discovery may be novel for the individual, but has already been realized by someone else, and historic, where the discovery is novel for the entire culture/society (Boden 1990). Accepting creativity is important (Florida 2005), yet people sometimes demonstrate aversion to creativity even when they know that it fulfills a need (Mueller et al. 2012).



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Creative thinking draws on the same intellectual resources as ordin­ ary thinking (Boden 1990; Weisberg 2006), and different types of creativity have been identified in relation to the creative contribution to the field (Boden 1990; Sternberg et al. 2002; Weisberg 2006). Artistic creativity, a process of developing an idea with no specific goal, has been distinguished from scientific creativity where the problem space is usually defined (Boden 1990; Weisberg 2006). The steps of the creative process can range in number, and generally include stages related to preparation, incubation, illumination, and evaluation (Boden 1990). These stages have been delineated in general terms (Ambrose et al. 2003; Boden 1990; Sartre et al. 2010), in relation to the designer and his or her interface with the product development process (Aspelund 2006; Cross 1997; Cross et al. 1996; Dorst and Cross 2001), and in relation to fashion design (Fiore et al. 1996; LaBat and Sokolowski 1999; Lamb and Kallal 1992; Suwa and Tversky 1997). Creativity related to fashion design has distinct characteristics. In addition to providing a novel (Weisberg 2006) consumable product (Rhodes 1961) fashion design creativity has the supplementary require­ ment of creating value (Csikszentmihalyi 1996) by instilling desire and need for change (Kawamura 2005; Wilson 2003). Conceptual models considering personal creativity have been developed to shape inquiry and understanding of the individual’s process of FDD (Bailey 1998; Lamb and Kallal 1992; Le Pechoux 2000; Mete 2006). In addition, attention has been given to the practice of developing creativity in the teaching/learning environment for fashion design (Dragoo 2004; Karpova et al. 2011; Kim and Farrell-Beck 2003; Lee 2005; Murray 2005; Robinson 2011; Rudd and Chattaraman 2005; Rudd and Reilly 2004; Simpson 2004). This article extends inquiry related to creativity in FDD by examining the larger cultural context (Hamilton 1997: 8), addressing the fashion industry that is a part of the fashion system (Hamilton 1997; Vinken 2005). The results of this analysis provide structure to otherwise ambiguous parameters (Hamilton 1997) of creativity related to the practice of FDD. Defining the Fashion Industry The term fashion can apply to both tangible and intangible activities. Behaviors ranging from one’s choice of dress or adornment, one’s manner of socializing with peers, and one’s choice of language and method of communication are only a few examples. These behaviors contribute to the fashion system (Hamilton 1997; Vinken 2005), yet can exist independently from any commercial enterprise. Because the purpose of this article is to contribute to the understanding of creativity in relation to FDD in the context of the commercially driven fashion industry, the following section will clarify the definition of the fashion industry.

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In the context of the fashion industry, style indicates an item with a specific set of characteristics (Conway 1997) that is adopted by a group of people (Diamond and Diamond 2002) for a limited amount of time (Wilson 2003). In addition to the tangible characteristics of the style, fashion products are embodied with an abstract force (Babcock 1986) whose integral components are novelty and change (Kawamura 2005). This abstract force is separate from clothing or any other vehicle that may be used to convey the fashion concept (Kawamura 2005); however, to some extent fashion products are dependent on the physical artifacts that provide a tangible representation of the concept driving the desire for novelty and change (Wilson 2003). In summary, fashion is a system that “serves as a means by which goods are systematically invested and divested of meaningful properties” (McCracken 1986, 76) that is “a function of any complex, industrial nation-state, and has the responsibility for the production, marketing, and merchandising of products associated with the construction of individual appearance” (Hamilton 1997: 2). The fashion industry, therefore, focuses on the commercial activities within the fashion system (Hamilton 1997; Vinken 2005), and addresses many economic levels, from low-priced budget products to bespoke products selling for tens of thousands of dollars each, and all price levels in between (Keiser and Garner 2012). This complex system operates within the context of industrial societies that “willingly accept, indeed encourage, the radical changes that result from deliberate human effort and the effect of anonymous social forces” (McCracken 1986: 76). Today’s fashion industry endures because of change as it simultaneously reflects and affects the culture in which it exists. In order to remain successful, companies must change the aesthetic properties of a product on a regular basis, carefully cultivating the desire for and need of the new product by transferring to the new item an abstract force similar to the one that created the meaning that initially pushed the outgoing product into popularity. Consequently, we define the fashion industry as all companies or individuals involved in the creation, production, promotion, and sale of items that: (a) have novel and specific aesthetic and functional properties, (b) trigger psychological reactions related to desire and need, and (c) are adopted by a group of people for a limited amount of time. The environment of today’s fashion designers is characterized by increased competition, enhanced consumer awareness, and rapidly developing technology. Fashion industry competition is fierce due to the combination of immediate and rapid dissemination of information about fashion trends, the lack of copyright protection, and the ability of the competition to quickly respond to change. In this environment, it can be extremely difficult to secure full financial benefit from creative fashion products. Overt, rapid copying of fashion designs poses a multitude of problems for the fashion leaders, not the least of which is the inability to amortize investment in the process required to produce creative products.



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The multifaceted phenomena that fall under the fashion umbrella include cultural (Hamilton 1997; Kawamura 2004; Vinken 2005; Wilson 2003) and sociocultural dimensions (Vinken 2005; Workman and Freeburg 2009). Fashion has been examined as a sub-field of soci­ ology (Kawamura 2005), compared to fine and performing art (Wilson 2003), and examined in the business, marketing, consumer behavior, and management (Cillo and Verona 2008) literature. The apparel and textile product segment of the fashion industry is one of the largest commercial enterprises in the global marketplace (Kunz and Garner 2007) and includes the manufacture and the subsequent wholesale and retail sale of fibers, yarns, fabrics, apparel, accessories, jewelry, and even perfume for men, women, and children as well as home furnishings and a variety of textile soft goods (Dickerson 2003). On November 4, 2011, the World Trade Organization listed on its website that in 2010, textiles and clothing alone contributed US$602 billion to world trade and represented 4.1 percent of the world’s merchandise exports. Basic products do not change radically from one season to the next, while the driving force behind fashion products is change (Kunz and Garner 2007). Researching the fashion industry has traditionally been marginalized in academic circles, criticized in feminist circles and reduced to simple buying and selling in business circles (Kawamura 2005; Vinken 2005; Wilson 2003). Obvious strides have been made, however, that validate the dialogue regarding the phenomenon of fashion. Within the past fifteen years, several highly regarded peer-reviewed academic journals that focus on fashion have become well established. Furthermore, the fashion, academic, and journalistic communities were startled in 2006 when Washington, DC fashion columnist Robin Givhan received the Pulitzer Prize for criticism “for her witty, closely observed essays that transform fashion criticism into cultural criticism” (www.pulitzer.org n.d.). This overview of the fashion industry provides a foundation for understanding the cultural environment of FDD professionals and reveals a complex and multifaceted context where the nature of the fashion designer’s work is strongly influenced by factors outside of his or her control. This article provides structure to those factors that facilitate a better understanding of how environmental shifts influence the creat­ive process in order for fashion designers and product developers to adapt to and thrive in this changing environment.

Conceptual Framework When addressing creative FDD, attention was given to the cultural system (Hamilton 1997; Tylka and Calogero 2010) in which the designer functions, a context particularly characterized by rapid change (Eckert and Stacey 2003). Our cultural analysis was rooted in an anthro­po­ logical tradition. We combined a cognitive perspective on creativity

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(Weisberg 2006) with cultural materialism (Harris 1979; White 1959) to develop probing questions that explored creativity in FDD through a series of in-depth interviews in an international context employing the grounded theory approach (Glaser and Strauss 1967; Strauss and Corbin 1990). The areas of inquiry were shaped through attention to the components of culture related to ideology, social structure, and technology (Hamilton 1987; Harris 1979; White 1959). By examining the interaction of these three layers of culture, motivations and explanations for changing phenomena were revealed. Understanding the cultural context is important to fashion design (Eckert and Stacey 2003) and this approach to the cultural system was proven effective for analyzing the fashion industry (Hamilton 1987). From this cultural paradigm, areas of inquiry framed around the question, “How does the creative process for design and development function in the global fashion industry of the twenty-first century?” were compiled following the cognitive creativity precept that “ideas and tangible products that are novel and useful are assumed to emerge from the application of ordinary, fundamental cognitive processes to existing knowledge structures” (Ward 2007). Leading questions explored the participant’s ideology, worldview, and values by addressing the participant’s etic and emic perspectives regarding the creative process in general, the participant’s personal experience with fashion design, and the fashion industry. Social structure, or the organizations that frame the designer’s environment, was perceived through examining components of the working atmosphere, company structure, product distribution strategies, and overall supply chain. Participants were asked to consider aspects of technology related to artifacts found in their environments, technological tools that facilitated the creative development process, and technology that facilitated the flow of information. Investigating the cultural environment in which a fashion designer functions from the above perspective initiated a process of probing data collection and analysis employing inductive and deductive reasoning that led to the development of a typology for creativity in FDD. The intent of this exploratory study was to analyze and categorize themes drawn from the individual interview data. By linking the interview data to relevant literature and environmental factors inherent in the global fashion industry, we established a typology of creativity for fashion design and development.

Methods We chose to explore creativity in FDD through a specific industry segment, a practice that has proven successful in creativity studies when focusing on specific, easily identifiable, and universal aspects of that domain (Dorst and Cross 2001). The following distinctive characteristics



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of the luxury fashion industry render its lens particularly appropriate for this study: (a) strong brand definition (Miller and Mills 2012; Ward et al. 2006), (b) easily perceivable rapid change (Cappetta et al. 2006; Eckert and Stacey 2003), (c) universal patterns of design development (Dorst and Cross 2001; Eckert and Stacey 2003; Stacey and Eckert 2010; Suwa and Tversky 1997), and (d) proven applicability to diverse product and price categories (Cappetta et al. 2006; Eckert and Stacey 2003). Producing creative, expensive apparel and presenting it in highprofile fashion shows has been recognized as an effective approach to fashion brand development (Ward et al. 2006). Those fashion brands influence the overall forecasting process (Eckert and Stacey 2003) and in turn enable further commercial exploitation of the brand image through licensing to assorted products that enhance revenue by expanding brand reach to diverse consumer populations and selling at price points that range from couture to mass market. An example is found in the Jean Paul Gaultier brand where in addition to the company’s couture and designer ready-to-wear lines, they sold a capsule collection at the Target budget store chain. Rapid change is observed when the new, distinguishable products are released at least twice a year, with the norm being five times a year: spring, summer, fall, winter, and resort (Keiser and Garner 2012). In addition, the luxury fashion system has proven to delineate concepts that can be applied to innovative design development in the small electronics industry because of the dynamic and easily noticeable importance given to stylistic changes (Cappetta et al. 2006). The patterns of the fashion design process also find parallels in the fields of industrial design (Dorst and Cross 2001), engineering (Eckert and Stacey 2003), graphic design (Stacey and Eckert 2010), and architecture (Suwa and Tversky 1997).

Participants Participants were chosen for this study based on the principle of theoretical sampling (Creswell 1998) to have similar characteristics of professional experience in the creative phase of apparel development for the luxury fashion industry yet diverse attributes to strengthen the range of responses that, through constant comparison, lead to an effective grounded theory study. To recruit participants, a number of designers, trend forecasters, and industry executives in France, the UK, and the USA were approached. Fashion industry executives were included if they either administered design departments or managed designers. Fourteen people agreed to participate in this study. Figure 1 provides an overview of the range of participant characteristics in relation to age, experience, education, birth countries, nationalities, residence, and professional activity.

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Figure 1 Participant characteristics.

e 1: Participant Characteristics

Among the participants are professionals of similar profiles from diverse countries. Examples include: a trend forecaster who worked Among the participants are professionals of similar profiles from diverse countries. in France and one in the USA; a French haute couture designer and a ples include: a trend forecaster who worked in France and one in the US; a French Haute New York designer who sold at the luxury/couture price point; a freelance knitwear designer from France and a freelance shoe designer from

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London; a women’s wear designer from the USA and a women’s wear designer from France; a textile designer based in France and one based in the USA. The President of the Chambre Syndicale du Prêt a Porter et des Couturiers in Paris was not paralleled with his counterpart in the USA, the President of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, who refused the interview. This participant’s executive-level industry experience was paralleled with a former Vice President of Design of a major US apparel corporation. Obtaining a diverse yet cohesive body of participants was an important component of the research design in order to include a range of perspectives relevant to the FDD process. Variation in participant characteristics lent credibility to this exploratory study, providing the potential for a wide range of responses, while unifying characteristics related to education, experience, and current professional activity provided necessary cohesiveness.

Data Collection Data were collected by completing extensive interviews of fashion designers and industry professionals in an international context. Completing long interviews (McCracken 1988) has a proven record of usefulness in the study of the creative process (Ambrose et al. 2003; Csikszentmihalyi 1996; Gardner 1993). The interview schedule, developed to explore the overarching question, “How does the creative process for design and development function in the global fashion industry of the twenty-first century?” began with probing questions to generate general comments about creativity and the participant’s creative process. When rapport was established, questions focused on creativity in FDD inquiring about sources of inspiration and the overall working environment. All of the interviews covered each of these domains of inquiry, although none of the interviews strictly stayed with only the pre-established questions. The interviews were digitally recorded and transcribed by one of the researchers. By mutual agreement, the identity of the participants was kept anonymous in the interview data. Data were manually analyzed using the open coding (Creswell 1998) method after each interview. According to the grounded theory tradition (Denzin and Lincoln 2000), each interview was analyzed immediately. Initial data analysis consisted of identifying concepts, categorizing, and searching for seminal relationships among them, while constantly comparing (Glaser and Strauss 1967) in order to discover themes from the data independent of the domains of inquiry. At the onset of this grounded theory study the overarching structure of the probing questions centered on creativity from the participant’s perspective. Succeeding interviews were affected by the insight gleaned, either confirming or disconfirming categories and in some cases evolving into new directions. For example, as the interviews progressed, the

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distinct nature of the larger cultural context of creativity in FDD was revealed through the data, thus prompting us to establish new categories and to adjust interviews to integrate inquiry about the macro environment. A category of responses emerged around the idea that creativity exists at multiple levels of the FDD process (Dorst and Cross 2001). Another theme that evolved from the data relates to the difference between “personal creativity and historic creativity” (Boden 1990). In addition, data revealed responses related to system-level creativity (Dorst and Cross 2001). The data were collected until a point of repeatable regularities. Further analysis established relationships between the categories, resulting in theory that is grounded in the data.

Data Analysis After completion of all of the interviews, data were introduced into NvivoTM software and the open coding process continued. The process of open coding led to axial coding (Creswell 1998), as variables emerged that led to specific phenomena and concepts. A posteriori themes developed that related to those phenomena. The NvivoTM data were printed and additional themes were hand-coded. The final phase in the data review process was to reread each of the interview transcripts, further evaluating and organizing the findings where appropriate, ensuring that data for the categories were saturated (Creswell 1998). Triangulation was used to demonstrate the saturation of responses and the accuracy of the analysis (Denzin and Lincoln 2000; Kimchi et al. 1991). In relation to the saturation of responses, triangulation revealed verification of data collection through evidence of response repetition from diverse participants.

Results Themes drawn from the data relate to: (a) the distinct nature of creativity in the fashion industry, (b) the importance and influence of the market and the consumer, (c) the interrelationship of creativity, price, and brand image, (d) the interdependence of creativity types, and finally (e) the typology of creativity in FDD. We discuss below participant responses related to each of these themes that led us, through inductive and deductive reasoning, to recognize two equally important types of creativity in FDD. Building upon Sternberg’s (2006) propulsion model of creative contributions we define Leadership Creativity and Adaptive Creativity at extreme ends of a continuum. Leadership Creativity overrules current archetypes and shifts the sector in a new direction while Adaptive Creativity integrates existing paradigms into a direction the sector is already trending.



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The Distinct Nature of Creativity in the Fashion Industry Creativity is present in the fashion industry in distinct forms, and attention to creativity permeates all areas. It “is the mantra of (the fashion) industry. It is the beginning and the end of the conversation. We all say we want new thoughts, we want creativity, we believe that we support creativity. It is the word on everybody’s lips” (Interview participant B, August 14, 2007). Creativity that rejects the current paradigm and leads the field into a new direction was described in terms of “historical creativity” (Boden 1990). “It is really changing the history of costume. To do things which have never been done, or anyway to interpret them in a way which was never done, as of course everything is taken from the past” (Interview participant F, July 17, 2007). “The creator creates history, he doesn’t follow history. It is not a soldier, it is not someone who follows, it is someone who brings an image … the true creators … are very rare by definition in the entire world” (Interview participant D, July 10, 2007). The data raised awareness of a segment of FDD that does not focus on determining a revolutionary product, but on adapting existing fashion products, putting the emphasis on the process of bringing the product to the consumer. This manner of adapting existing fashion products points to “synthesizing current paradigms” (Sternberg 2006: 96) that push the field forward in a predetermined direction. For example, “creativity doesn’t have to be weird … [but] creativity is connected to the word new, or fresh. You know, just the next step. You don’t have to go all the way to the top of the ladder, just move it along” (Interview participant J, September 12, 2007). Being creative in FDD doesn’t necessarily mean focusing on making a completely new product. “For … the Forever 21’s, There is creativity in translating what the other people are doing into your price point” (Interview participant D, July 10, 2007). In this example, the creative emphasis would be at the system level (Dorst and Cross 2001) of producing the product, and would not be as evident when examining final product. Fashion Design Creativity in Relation to Marketability and the Consumer Creativity in fashion design is linked to market position (Eckert and Stacey 2003) and creating value (Csikszentmihalyi 1999); however, these two concepts can be considered inherently conflicting paradigms. “It is by virtue of the laws of imitation that we obey fashion. It is nearly by a protestation against these laws of imitation that fashion tries to be creative” (Interview participant D, July 10, 2007). Adopting a consumer focus, often seen as providing commercial success, can stifle creativity that is intended to redirect the field, or at the very least predetermine the outcome to some degree. Because the purpose of fashion design is to create a product with a practical function, the creative fashion designer’s task is to attend to the consumer’s needs in a subtle manner, creating a harmony that the

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consumer recognizes and connects to, while at the same time defining product characteristics that are unique and serve a purpose. Why is he (the designer) successful? Because he is subconsciously, at the base, he is in the mind of each client that he addresses. There is a transmission: why does a client buy? Because she recognizes, subconsciously, when looking at a designer’s work, a harmony that she feels. (Interview participant D, July 10, 2007) The harmony that the customer feels does not happen by chance. This designer went on to describe the macro environment and the way in which the rules of a target market evolve. The world is rigid, especially the capitalist world we live in. We receive so much media and information and images that form our taste, and it is from there that certain targets are launched in rapport with each market segment. Together with our knowledge of the real process [and the] receptivity of images of this or that subject, when we are a good designer we try to create a collection with the goal of fitting within the rules of the target. (Interview participant D, July 10, 2007) FDD that rejects current paradigms was described by a trend forecaster as the antithesis of marketing-based product development that focuses on defining the customer’s needs. They do focus groups, questionnaires to interview people, etc. And that is all stuff that taints the creative process. We (at my trend forecasting company) are very turned off by that. I think that fashion designers who are very creative, especially high-end fashion designers, are turned off for the same reasons. Everybody feels like it’s a publicity machine; something evil. (Interview participant E, July 8, 2007) Commercial success in the fashion industry includes gaining access to the “cultural arbiters of fashion referring to the extant general cultural system in which both the fashion system and individual fashion consumers operate” (Hamilton 1997). These include the fashion gatekeepers who decide which products to feature in magazines, online, on celebrities, and in retail stores. Although other factors most certainly come in to play, obtaining the attention of the fashion gatekeepers is often dependent on the creativity of a designer’s work (Interview participant F, July 17, 2007). The reality of all these big brands with all this marketing has also [been] trying to cut out the young designers because they



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[big brands] take all the space in the magazines as advertisers and all the space in the [editorial] pages because the editors use them to get them to advertise more. They take all the air from the rising designers. So the only way to get a brand to rise is to sell. And to sell the only way is to keep the creativity, so it is related. (Interview participant I, July 19, 2007) The Interrelationship of Creativity, Price, and Brand Image Participants commented about the level of sophistication applied when translating design ideas into products that can be manufactured in appropriate quantities, meeting both the aesthetic and economic expectations of the company and the target market. Interview participant F below highlights the importance of creativity to a brand’s image regardless of the product’s price. Today [because of globalization] in a sense the world is one country as the frontiers and barriers fade. [Globalization] means that we can produce everywhere so that price is no longer a divisive issue. The new technologies make this possible for everyone. You can design in London or in NY, print in [New] Delhi and produce in Hong Kong. The differentiation is given by creativity. The creativity that really builds the brand is more important than the price and generally the product … Creativity becomes the necessary element for a brand to become international. It [creativity] supersedes marketing in importance. (Interview participant F, July 17, 2007) However, continued development of creative products is especially important if a designer’s image or brand is known to focus on innovation and leadership. For us, the clients and the press and everybody always look for something very creative. It is hard, because sometimes you want to be simple, and at the same time if it is simple, they don’t even look at that. Like Dries Van Noten, like Alaïa, [the collection] has to keep the hand but at the same time has to be creative. It (creativity) is very important. It is 70% of all of the world of fashion. It is very important. (Interview participant I, July 19, 2007) One participant, a designer, described a psychological link for the consumer between a high price point and receptivity to Leadership Creativity. “I think the main difference between upper-price and lowerprice clothing is that consumers can usually spend more money for clothing that is more original and more unique” (Interview participant B, August 14, 2007). At the highest price point, therefore, the design problem to solve relates to developing a directional, innovative, unique,

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superbly crafted product made from the finest materials. “I think it [creativity] is at a point where it has never been before where because of the prices going so high we have the freedom and ability to do what we have never done before” (Interview participant E, July 8, 2007). This description reflects the concept of divergent thinking (Csiks­ zentmihalyi 1996) that leads to experimental creativity. Experi­mental creativity in this context is distinct from Galenson’s (2009) description in that rather than having imprecise goals, the experimental process in fashion design is purposeful and directed toward a specific end goal (Galenson 2009). Parallels can be found, also, in artistic creativity (Boden 1990; Weisberg 2006) where the creative process is examined within the context of artistic expression and in Sternberg’s redirection, proposed as a “type of creativity that rejects current paradigms and attempts to replace them.” We define Leadership Creativity as the process of focusing on divergent, experimental, and insight-based thinking with few restrictions and a heightened awareness of craft and technique to develop products that push the industry into a direction different from the way it is currently trending. Leadership Creativity is often found at the highest price point because it requires investment in research and development (Eckert and Stacey 2003). “Creation is always expensive by definition” (Interview participant F, July 17, 2007). I think that a lot of the time, especially in the luxury industry, creativity allows more expensive processes to be done and you know more amazing techniques and more complicated ways and more complicated patternmaking and all that kind of stuff. So I think that makes the more creatively made things more expensive, so I think that people are ready to invest more to have more special pieces. (Interview participant E, July 8, 2007) At the lowest of price points, the problem to solve shifts focus from the product to the system (Eckert and Stacey 2003) of translating sophisticated design ideas into products that can be manufactured in large quantities and have the allure of expensively priced design but are adapted in such a way to make them attractive to the budget customer (Keiser and Garner 2012) from both the aesthetic and economic standpoints. Designing for the budget price category requires finding a solution in an environment with specific boundaries and restrictions and draws on convergent creativity (Runco 2007; Weisberg 2006). In this case analytic skills employ a scientific methodology (Boden 1990; Weisberg 2006) to synthesize given paradigms (Sternberg 2006) and the focus shifts from the product to the development process, emphasizing a more systems-level of creativity (Dorst and Cross 2001). Adaptive Creativity is defined as the process of focusing on convergent thinking, analytical and scientific methods that meet the challenge



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of creating a product with well-established parameters or limitations and imply a heightened awareness of operations, management, methods, and technology. … it depends on the level of the industry you are working in … further down the line, as you start working for some of those other companies, like Forever 21, who are just knocking things off … These people are creating a look based on someone else’s look. For the followers, it is more how to translate what the other people are doing into your price point. There is some creativity in that, too. (Interview participant G, August 14 2007) Interdependence of Creativity Types These two types of creativity are not hierarchical. One is not better than the other, and they actually feed off of each other. Figure 2 shows the linkage between Leadership Creativity and Adaptive Creativity. The predominance of Adaptive Creativity can be seen as a catalyst to Leadership Creativity, and Adaptive Creativity finds its direction from Leadership Creativity. I think a lot of it comes in the way everybody is shopping and rubbing off items. It looks like … you know the mess about fashion if the merchandiser becomes a designer just by shopping and picking ten garments and redoing them in a different color. And if that is what fashion design is today, you know these higher end designers are just so disgusted by that, they just want to get back to authenticity. I think that is what is pushing them to do it. (Interview participant E, July 8, 2007)

Figure 2 The linkage between Leadership Creativity and Adaptive Creativity.

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Furthering the analysis in this context, we propose that the process of developing fashion products with novel and specific aesthetic and functional properties is forced through a cycle that is similar to the traditional fashion cycle (Keiser and Garner 2012), however Figure 2 highlights the manner in which Products with Adaptive Creativity (PAC) contribute to market saturation that leads to consumer receptivity for, even desire for, Products with Leadership Creativity (PLC). Typology of Creativity in Fashion Design and Development The generation of the Typology of Creativity in Fashion Design and Development, visually depicted in Figure 3, is a result of concepts that emerged directly from the data and ideas inspired by the data then developed through combining existing literature with further industry analysis at a theoretical level. Having identified the two types of creativity at extreme ends of a continuum, Leadership Creativity and Adaptive Creativity, we designated eight attributes related to influences upon creativity in FDD: (1) research and development, (2) selling price, (3) nature of the product, (4) consumer taste level, (5) technique, (6) number of designs created and reproduced in a season, (7) consumer perception and life cycle of the product, and (8) source of design inspiration. When examining the typology attributes in relation to Leadership Creativity and Adaptive Creativity, the nature of each attribute is distinct according to creativity type (Sternberg 2006). We chose to create a typology because by definition a typology emphasizes categorizing while not implying hierarchy or value. Each type of creativity is valuable in equal measure to the fashion system and the industry that has been created around that system. The following

Figure 3 Typology of creativity in fashion design and development.



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discussion characterizes Leadership Creativity and Adaptive Creativity at two ends of a continuum. Research and development Leadership Creativity rejects existing ideas and attempts to supersede them, therefore requiring an important investment in product research and development. Dedicating resources to foster exploration and experimentation in a way that that is unique yet captures the zeitgeist and leads the industry in a new direction is of primary importance. Adaptive Creativity chiefly draws from literal representations of the product being designed, often from recent seasons, choosing components from existing products and translating them into different products in a way that follows the direction the industry has already assumed. Research is limited to determining which existing products will be modified and how to modify them in a manner that is cohesive with the established trend and legally allowed. Selling price At the two extremes, a Product with Leadership Creativity (PLC) will be sold at a price corresponding to the luxury market (Miller and Mills 2012), and a Product with Adaptive Creativity (PAC) is expected to be sold at a low price, corresponding to the budget category (Keiser and Garner 2012), usually selling for under US$100. Nature of the product The nature of the PLC is innovative and directional, distinctly different from existing products on the market. Developed using divergent thinking in a context with few constraints, the product is the expression of the designer’s creativity. PAC follow given trends for specific industry segments, and therefore employ convergent thinking while being developed in an environment with strictly established parameters and many limitations. The end product does not exemplify particularly high levels of creativity. Consumer taste level Understanding and pleasing the target market’s taste level is an important factor to consider when defining the type of creativity. A consumer’s taste level for our purposes is defined in terms of refined or popular. Leadership Creativity reflects refined taste, characterized by one who possesses: (a) receptivity for the unusual, (b) sensibility for the beauty of subtle and unique design characteristics, (c) an informed aesthetic, and (d) appreciation for the time and effort required to develop highquality products. Popular taste, the focus of Adaptive Creativity, (a) draws on influences in popular Western culture, especially those related to sexuality and beauty (b) constructs aesthetic ideals through social circles, and (c) gives little attention to quality. The creative challenge

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when addressing the popular taste level includes satisfying established parameters related to price, consumer desires, and market constraints while the creative challenge at the refined level relates more to exploring and experimenting in a context with few boundaries. Technique The techniques emphasized in a PLC reflect the application of extensively developed skills, complex materials, and superb craftsmanship required for a product of supreme quality. Manual labor and traditional methods are emphasized. The PAC employs automated techniques and emphasizes economical materials, methods, and craftsmanship that are often of inferior quality. Creativity in relation to a PAC is less evident when observing the final product. The creative significance of a PAC involves recognizing the techniques employed at the system level (Eckert and Stacey 2003), especially in relation to efficient management of operations, material procurement, and production methods to bring costs down. Number of designs created and reproduced in a season Collections reflecting Leadership Creativity are produced in low numbers, from one to around 100, for example, to maintain exclusivity. The designers of PAC are expected to generate a high number of designs, for some companies up to 150 per season, for example, that meet strict requirements related to price and consumer demand. The PAC is produced in large numbers, from 1000 to 10,000+ per unit. Consumer perception and life cycle of the product The consumer of a PLC considers the purchase an investment. Due to the high quality of craftsmanship and materials, the PLC endures physically for an extended time period. Whether the intended usage is for one or multiple wearings, the PLC fulfills needs related to status and prestige. The PAC consumer considers the lifespan of the product to be relatively short. The craftsmanship and materials degrade quickly and the consumer accepts to dispose of one PAC to replace it with another, sometimes within a 6-month time period. The PAC fulfills consumer needs related to belonging and social acceptance. Source of design inspiration In order for a fashion collection to be cohesive, designers create themes around inspirational sources. Designers employing Leadership Creativity look for inspiration to primary sources that are abstract and not related to the product being designed. The resulting PLC only reflects the inspirational source in subtle, complex ways. Inspiration for Adaptive Creativity comes from secondary sources, most often by examining literal representations of the product being designed that have been recently released on the market (Eckert and Stacey 2003). The



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resulting products resemble the inspirational product with identifiable characteristics.

Discussion The above section delineates characteristics of Leadership Creativity and Adaptive Creativity at the two extremes of a continuum. We will discuss here the complexity of the middle range of that continuum, combining our analysis with existing literature and participant responses. While understanding the extremes provides clarity, we have discovered these two overarching commonalities between the two types of creativity: l Both types of creativity require “thinking differently” (Sternberg

et al. 2002; Interview participant C, July 13, 2007) l Problem solving is required regardless of the creativity type.

(Eckert and Stacey 2003; Interview participant B, August 14, 2007; Weisberg 2006) It is important to note that fashion designers who practice pure Leadership Creativity are in the minority (Eckert and Stacey, 2003; Interview participant D, July 10, 2007). These are designers whose work is expected to demonstrate historic creativity (Boden 1990). In France, where King Louis XIV instituted laws to promote the concept of fashion leadership in the seventeenth century (DeJean 2004), the language contains distinct terms for people who practice these two types of creativity. True Leadership Creativity, “really changing the history of costume. To do things which have never been done, or anyway to interpret them in a way which was never done” (Interview participant F, July 17, 2007) is practiced by the créateurs, or creators, and the stylists, or designers, even at the point closest to Leadership Creativity on the continuum, integrate some form of Adaptive Creativity, While still a creative process, Adaptive Creativity is a different type of creativity that focuses more on the process than the product. The creator creates history, he doesn’t follow history. It is not a soldier, it is not someone who follows, it is someone who brings an image … the true creators … are very rare by definition in the entire world. A stylist, designer, is not really a creator. It is a man of synthesis; meaning that it is someone who studies the images that the true creators, who are very rare by definition in the entire world, have created, and he will work on these images to use them to serve the market he is addressing. (Interview participant D, July 10, 2007) The majority of work in the FDD paradigm of the early twentyfirst century is influenced by Adaptive Creativity. Visually depicting

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Figure 4 Leadership Creativity and Adaptive Creativity in relation to job type and price point, with early twenty-first-century fashion industry examples.

this ­phenomenon on a continuum, Figure 4 situates pure Leadership Creativity and pure Adaptive Creativity within the current fashion industry paradigm in terms of types of jobs related to producing a product, the price point relative to those job types (Keiser and Garner 2012), and illustrates the concept with examples of designers and companies in the early twenty-first century who fall within the specified range from Leadership Creativity to Adaptive Creativity. As the overlapping, medium intensity, section of Figure 4 indicates, price point restrictions are not always a deterrent to the application of Leadership Creativity. When a company has a brand name that is recognized for Leadership Creativity, such as Kenzo, Marc Jacobs, or Donna Karan, for example, degrees of Leadership Creativity can still be demonstrated within the better and contemporary price points. At Kenzo, the design team “creat[ed] trends, [we didn’t] follow them” (Interview participant H, July 21, 2007), however, those designer-level, expensive, complex, and exclusive trend-setting pieces were simplified and sold at contemporary prices then manufactured in larger quantities. This concept is visualized in Figure 5, as a pyramid (Rooke 2006) where a few very expensive, very creative pieces are at the top, and the selling price decreases while the number of items produced increases and the product still reflects elements from Leadership Creativity. Accomplishing the task of maintaining the product characteristics defined by Leadership Creativity at a lower price point requires application of the skills identified as key to Adaptive Creativity; in this case the designer drew on her extensive knowledge of the system of FDD (Eckert and Stacey 2003) that included methods, techniques, and technology



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Figure 5 Combining Leadership Creativity with Adaptive Creativity.

to balance the collection with pieces that maintained the allure of directional design and were executed in a way that enabled producing higher quantities at lower prices. Globalization has given many more cost-effective production opportunities to companies, providing more options to the consumer at the lower price points (Interview participant H, July 21, 2007). Another combination of Leadership Creativity and Adaptive Creat­ ivity can be accomplished through applying a creativity type to categories of work within a product. Interview participant A, when discussing her textile design development, spoke of “[starting] with a color and a mood and a vision of a place or a season … Kyoto in the fall, there is that gray leaden sky and then there are scarlet momiji leaves …” (Interview participant A, August 12, 2007). When she advanced to the stage of defining apparel shapes to cut the textiles into, she liked to “see what is selling at [Henri] Bendel or Barneys … you go to the designers and see what is out there” (Interview participant A, August 12, 2007). In a similar manner, knitwear designers in Europe found inspiration for textile patterns in tree bark or a Celtic symbol, but when they began to put the pattern on a body, the designers looked to existing garments for inspiration (Eckert and Stacey 2003). As the above examples demonstrate, a company’s strategic plan may draw on both types of creativity. The point of this discussion is to determine distinctive characteristics of the two types of creativity in product design and development in order to better understand and support the creative process, regardless of its type.

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Conclusions The fashion industry holds an undeniably important place in the global economy; however, creativity in fashion design and development has received relatively little attention in the literature. This study addresses that gap by employing qualitative research methods to describe how the creative process for design and development functions in the global fashion industry of the early twenty-first century. Data from indepth interviews in an international context, collected and analyzed simultaneously, led to the discovery of unexpected components of the phenomenon. Further analysis and reflection led to the designation of two distinct types of creativity employed in fashion design to develop fresh products for a target market: Leadership Creativity overrules current archetypes and shifts the sector in a new direction while Adaptive Creativity integrates existing paradigms into a direction the sector is already trending. In order to better understand these creativity types, we determined eight attributes of creativity in FDD, then described how each creativity type exemplifies those attributes when considered at the extreme ends of a continuum. Leadership Creativity is innovative and directional, reflecting highly developed technique, appealing to a customer with a refined taste who considers the purchase an investment. Adaptive Creativity involves putting considerable emphasis on the system (Eckert and Stacey 2003) of establishing efficient management of operations, materials, and production methods to bring costs down, appealing to customers with a wide range of taste levels, from refined to popular, who consider the lifespan of the garment to be relatively short. The highest degree of Adaptive Creativity is less evident when observing the final product, as the creative emphasis is more “at the level of plans and organization, strategies, and problem-solving processes” (Eckert and Stacey 2003: 21). This Typology of Creativity in Product Design and Development is not hierarchal; there is no implication that one type of creative activity is better or worse than another. We provided several examples to demonstrate that a majority of companies practice some form of Adaptive Creativity. A company’s strategic plan may draw on both types of creativity by designating specific lines to specific categories, by combining Leadership and Adaptive Creativity into one line, or by applying Leadership Creativity to one component of the product, such as the textile, and Adaptive Creativity to another component, such as the garment. The point of this discussion is to determine distinctive characteristics of the two types of creativity in product design and development in order to better understand and support the creative process, regardless of its type.



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Implications This Typology for Creativity in Fashion Design and Development aids to frame the problem space in order to stimulate the emergence of creative design concepts (Stacey and Eckert 2010). The delineation of the attributes of the types of creativity in FDD presented here has the potential to enable innovative institutions and practitioners to acknowledge and more effectively support creativity. Educators and human resource development professionals will find the Typology useful as they develop curricula that prepare designers, product developers, and managers to work in the twenty-first-century FDD paradigm. Courses and professional training programs relating to both Leadership Creativity and Adaptive Creativity can clearly enhance the designer’s creative potential. Overall, understanding the concepts presented here will enhance the development and retention of creative talent. Understanding the system in which creative FDD functions will facilitate ideological changes that need to take place in order to nurture creative talent in FDD. Building creative communities and keeping them vibrant is an important element in the quest for viable economic growth (Florida 2005). Fashion industry companies will need to engage both types of creativity in order to be successful.

Limitations and Recommendations for Further Research As an exploratory study, one intended consequence is to initiate dialogue and further research. This Typology for Creativity in Fashion Design and Development provides a foundation from which researchers can examine these phenomena in diverse contexts. Because of the fashion industry segment selected, luxury, the participants interviewed practiced primarily Leadership Creativity. Additional research exploring the creative process at different levels of creativity in FDD, including designers who mix Leadership Creativity and Adaptive Creativity as well as those who focus uniquely on Adaptive Creativity will provide a well-rounded view of the phenomenon. The participants in this study were selected following the purposeful sampling method; further exploration of creativity in FDD using discriminative sampling would also enrich perception of the phenomenon. This analysis of the creative process for FDD contributes a distinct perspective that may be applicable to other product types. Extension of the principles outlined here for creativity in FDD to other design fields such as functional apparel, interior design or industrial design may provide a better understanding of creative product design for diverse applications.

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