The power of a single prototype: sustainable fashion textile design and the prevention of carcinogenic melanoma

Joan Farrer, Angela Finn

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

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Is there a role for prototyping (sketching, pattern making and sampling) in addressing real world problems of sustainability (people, profit and planet), in this case social/healthcare issues, through fashion and textiles research? Skin cancer and related illnesses are a major cause of disfigurement and death in New Zealand and Australia where the rate of melanoma are four times higher than in the Northern Hemisphere regions of USA, UK and Canada (IARC, 1992). In 2007, AUT University (Auckland University of Technology) Fashion Department and CS (The Skin Cancer Society of New Zealand – Health Prevention) developed a prototype hat aimed at exploring a barrier type solution to prevent facial and neck skin damage. This is a paradigm shift from the usual medical research model. This paper provides an overview of the project and examines how a fashion prototype has been used to communicate emergent social, environmental, personal, physiological and technological concerns to the trans-disciplinary research team. The authors consider how the design of a product can enhance and support sustainable design practice while contributing a potential solution to an ongoing health issue. Analysis of this case study provides an insight into prototyping in fashion and textiles design, user engagement and the importance of requirements analysis in relation to sustainable development. The analysis and a successful outcome of the final prototype have provided a gateway to future collaborative research and product development.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInnovative Development in Design and Manufacturing
Subtitle of host publicationAdvanced Research in Virtual and Rapid Prototyping - Proceedings of VR@P4, Oct. 2009, Leiria, Portugal
EditorsPaulo Jorge da Silva Bartolo, Mateus Artur Jorge, Fernando da Conceicao Batista, Henrique Amorim Almeida, Joao Manuel Matias, Joel Correia Vasco, Jorge Brites Gaspar, Mario Antonio Correia, Nuno Carpinteiro Andre, Nuno Fernandes Alves
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherTaylor & Francis
ISBN (Print)9780415873079
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • Fashion design
  • Sustainability
  • Prototype
  • Cancer Prevention


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