The New Clothes

Collective Creativity as Framework for Engaged Fashion.

Designers: Ellen Russell & Mia Daniels
Place: Hosted at Unit-Pitt Projects, Vancouver BC
Themes: participatory design, hacktivism, maker-economy, service-system


Current globalized systems of manufacture have resulted in a disconnectedconsumer mindset. The need for a more intimate sense of material culture presents itself as a design opportunity. This project aims to reorient the user away from passive consumption towards open dialogue and active engagement.


The New Clothes is a project that engages consumers in constructing new meaning, value, and potential from worn clothing. It is a framework for participation where physical maker-spaces and an onlineopen-source platform collectively generate methods for extending thelifespan of existing garments.


The New Clothes maker-space is a replicable service-system with specifically designed touch-points designed to introduce participants to a creative process – in which they are given the space, tools and support to transform their worn garments into something new.

This participatory design framework coincides with the global movement towards collaborative maker-spaces where DIY initiatives are enhanced through community networks and shared resources: experiences, skills, and materials.


The New Clothes open-source patterns offer examples of garment transformations, available through maker-space locations and the online platform. These open-source patterns are designed for accessibility: they take very little sewing and can be completed in under15 minutes.

These transformations act as inspiration from which the community can actively build and improve upon, utilizing human resourcefulness, adaptability, and creativity – to offer more enduring design solutions.


As a model for systemic re-thinking The New Clothes offers new perspectives on how material culture is devised, delivered, used, and reused – emphasizing social innovation through community dialogue and collaborative effort. This joyful approach to sustainability enables proximity of production and personal meaning within the cultural context of mass production.