Gatekeepers - How designers add value in the fast fashion process.
Gatekeepers is my MA thesis for Aalto University. After working many years as a designer in the industry I wanted to challenge myself academically and research fast fashion industry from a designers perspective. My thesis is a qualitative study based on interviews and it highlights the strategic role of designers in the fast fashion industry.
The key findings of my study show that designers add value in the fast fashion process through the two roles they adopt: the strategic gatekeeping role and the practical executor role. The designer is a gatekeeper between the trends and the end product using customer, company strategy and brand as frame. The executor role is implementing the strategy in practice to make products that represent the value proposition of the company. These roles act as a pair for professional designers and value is added in all the phases of the fast fashion process, from the idea to the end product. Both, the idea and the execution must be successful to add value.
The results of my study show that the designer’s role in the fast fashion industry goes beyond the actual product design. Fast fashion designers are creative and business savvy designers who are sensitive to consumer needs and emerging trends. The dual role of the designer is a noteworthy finding of this study and it solidifies the importance of design as a strategic function and designers as strategic thinkers and doers in the fast fashion business.
Gatekeepers was accepted in November 2015 and received the highest grade (5).