How can design thinking make retail fashion more inclusive?
Despite the all-pervasive influence of popular fashion, elements of the industry have effectively excluded some of our under-represented groups through a distorted portrayal of femininity, restricted size ranges and retail service design.
In the wake of his Channel 4 series, ‘How to Look Good Naked’, TV presenter Gok Wan approached the Royal National Institute for Blind people (RNIB) to initiate a project to further explore the issue. In this context, RNIB invited The Hub to collaborate with the Debenhams retail chain to understand and improve the fashion-shopping experiences of blind and partially sighted women.
Latent and blatant needs
Ethnographic work undertaken with blind and partially sighted (BPS) women unearthed both latent and blatant needs and highlighted the extent to which retail services missed some of the most basic inclusivity considerations.
Empowering lead users
Based on this insight, we designed and delivered a series of co-creation sessions bringing together BPS women with personal stylists as experts of their own experience and give them a lead role in developing prototype solutions.
By involving The Hub from the outset and keeping an open mind throughout, RNIB gave us the opportunity to take a truly human-centred approach – using service design approaches to define the problem, as well as solve it.
Our team is currently working with RNIB to develop a range of tools that will allow retailers to develop more inclusive services through staff training and recommendations for environment design. Ultimately, this work will allow BPS women to fully participate in the fashion experience on their own terms.