Irina Gusakova, How do artists approach social issues and address communities through their work with textiles? Researching how art and fashion collaboration can go beyond product design.

Activity: Educational contribution / Supervising student theses, products Supervising student thesesEducational


Most of the collaborations between fashion brands and artists nowadays are commercial and product-driven, which negates the ethical element of social engagement. The problem of this approach lies in the profitable appropriation of cultural capital of artists by the fashion brands. A possible solution for creating more socially-charged partnerships between fashion and art is to directly involve a community affected by the addressed social issue, in the creation and presentation process of the project.
This study investigates all the meaningful ways artists approach social issues and address communities in their works with textiles. It distinguishes four main frameworks through which artists investigate the role the textiles play in the context of the themes addressed in the artworks: textile’s representation of a cultural heritage and history, textile’s provenance, textile’s properties as a form of protection and shelter, or textile’s connection to traditional gender roles as a way to reclaim its feminist nature.
Moreover, it discusses the importance of addressing social issues through a framework that is personally relatable to the brand and the artist involved in the project as it provides legitimacy and authenticity to the intentions communicated in the work and helps to avoid an appropriation of cultural capital of the addressed community.
The research demonstrates the importance of direct engagement of the community members when working on socially-engaged projects and collaborations. As community members become co-creators of the project and contribute their skills and time to it, it’s essential to bring their contribution to the forefront of the project and create a positive impact on the community.
PeriodSept 2020Apr 2021
Degree of RecognitionInternational