Jennifer Whitty

I am totally and utterly hooked on fashion, always have been and always will be.

Much of my life has been punctuated and amplified by my experience of wearing clothing or by my memory of what others were wearing. I have vivid recollections of how cloth felt, sounded, reflected light and moved. I consider myself incredibly lucky that I get to work within fashion, albeit by choice a little left of centre of the industry as a researcher/designer which enables me to have a healthy distance to examine its positives and negatives.

I think my wardrobe reflects my attitude for life. Where possible, I embrace life with open arms relishing all the adventures it can take me on. I have an eclectic, open attitude to fashion, as I am enchanted and energised by all the possibilities it presents. This may in part be attributed to my journey in life as having lived in both hemispheres, on 3 continents, in 7 countries, it has opened my mind to many things in which has impacted on my perspective of fashion and its significance in society. My wardrobe sometimes provides the facility of an airplane as it transports me to far off lands or to moments in time- past, future and present. It takes me back to versions of my former self or allows me to role-play in pieces I have acquired in preparation for my future self.

I am however despondent about Western ontology which according to Woodward (Woodward, 2005, pg21) divides the inner ‘intangible’ self as being deep within, far from the surface of superficiality and triviality i.e. fashion. I long for the day where we acknowledge the intrinsic connection between the inner and exterior and fashion is taken seriously for the power and magic it can yield.

This project came about through our involvement in the ‘Local Wisdom’ fashion research project (Fletcher, K, 2012-14) which provided the framework and impetus to develop an idea which was informed by on-going activity my Mum and I have engaged in for several years. My Mum regularly enlists my help to revive her wardrobe as she calls me her ‘wardrobe guardian angel’ (bless). I have found it immensely satisfying that my fashion ‘knowledge’ could give her such joy by giving her a fresh look at her existing garments and cementing her own beliefs and ideas. I began to query whether as designers, can we look to formalise systems such as this one to improve the human-product relationship and ensure on-going contentment and fulfilment for the user? If Holly and I could combine our insights and polar opposite approaches – could we bring more joy and pleasure to the world by just taking a different look at your wardrobes?

We certainly hope so.


Woodward, S (2005). Looking Good: feeling right- aesthetics of the self. In Miller, D, and Kuechler, S. (eds) Clothing as Material Culture (Oxford: Berg).

Fletcher, K (2014). Retrieved from

More about Jennifer Whitty

  Holly McQuillan

I love fashion, there is something magical about clothing and its ability to represent who you are at that moment to the world in an instant. I have garments I revel in, that I wear because they make me visible and feel powerful, and I have pieces that shield me from the world, like a protective cocoon. The power of clothing fascinates me. But I am also someone who cares acutely about the planet and the people who live on it, and I know that the fashion industry and the way we engage with it is deeply flawed. The more I learn about the fashion industry the more I revile it, and the more I understand the potential for it to change not only itself but the lives of those who wear, make and design clothing, for good.

If you were to look in my wardrobe most people would wonder what on earth I have to wear, but where some see famine I see opportunity. My wardrobe is lean and this forces me to consider carefully both my daily choices (while actually making it really easy – when you only have 3 pairs of shoes and two dresses you can’t really agonise over the decision) when selecting what to wear, but it also encourages me to shop with care. Every piece is there for a reason, so I wear, repair and reinvent each piece until it cannot be worn anymore - exercising both my skills and ethics, and therefore providing another avenue to personal satisfaction. So while some may perceive my 'edited' wardrobe as a sufferance, for me it satisfies on many levels: sartorially, emotionally, ethically and creatively. This is something I would wish for everyone.

More about Holly McQuillan