Designing Fashion through Social Media using Collective Intelligence
This paper draws attention to how collaborative intelligence in social media can be applied in fashion design process. Collaborative intelligence is a measure of the collaborative ability of a group or entity. This new form of open source peer production enables the designers to harvest external knowledge, resource and talent from the swarm or group. The four attributes of collaborative intelligence: Openness, peering, sharing, voting and acting globally (through social media, in this case) is an integral part of modern design process in fashion. Though the terms “fashion’ and “clothing’ tend to be used synonymously, but while fashion conveys a number of different social meaning, clothing is the generic raw materials of what the person wears(Yuniya Kawamura 2005). As defined in the New Oxford Dictionary on Historical Principles (published in 1901) the word “fashion” primarily denotes the action/ process of making, manner, a prevailing custom, a current usage, conventional usage in dress and mode of life. As “the fashion’, it is defined as the mode of dress, etiquette, furniture and style of speech adopted in society for the time being. Since, fashion is related to the prevalent social norms and etiquettes, this paper argues that in the design process the group / social swarms should be more involved to actively participate, contribute and vote to add various elements in design. The process suggested in this paper is more of web 2 (the “participatory” web) mode than the traditional (web1, a “non participatory” web) process usually followed in fashion design industry. A Web 2.0 site allows users to interact and collaborate with each other in a social media dialogue as creators (prosumers) of user-generated content in a virtual community, in contrast to websites where users (consumers) are limited to the passive viewing of content that was created for them. This paper also argues about the relevance of intellectual property rights and how the new models of collaboration are forcing a re-examination of intellectual property to affirm the new role of a fashion designer as an enabler rather than an inhibitor of co-creation and collaboration.
The second part applies these ideas to fashion design and examines the case of “Kuch Bhi” (meaning “anything”, in Hindi), a collaborative project initiated by Neil Dantas at Facebook. Neil, is an Indian designer known for his design sensibility and inspirations from India and specially Mumbai as the soul while its beauty and decay, innocence and guilt become the visual fabric of his work. By extracting elements of the city, he creates icons which become poetic symbols and coded comments on the social, political and emotional issues of today’s Mumbai. The Kuch Bhi movement is a fine example of collaborative intelligence, cool swarming and the contemporary role of a fashion designer as an enabler or catalyst in the design process.