The Clothing in Boxes and Probing the Consumer

This week’s lecture was all about design probes which gives you an in-depth look into someone’s lifestyle. Niinimaki K. and Koskinen I. wrote, “I love this dress, it makes me feel beautiful! Empathic knowledge in sustainable design.” In their paper they descried the wasteful way in which clothing is consumed and how it costs more to repair an article of clothing then it is to just buy a new one. They believe that the solution to this issue lies with the consumer and the designer both working together to make a piece last longer. The designer need to be more concentrated on creating a longer, sustaining article of clothing and the consumer needs to become attached to each item more and build a bond to the item making it irreplaceable.

But here lies a part of the problem, I have a personal connection with at least 90% of my clothing. About the only thing I don’t have an attachment to is undershirts and socks, my staple wear.  I literally have a tote bag FULL of t-shirt that range from high school all the way back from elementary. All from that one time my family went to Sea World and I got this size 3 child’s shirt with a really cool shark on it that glows in the dark. Two years from now I won’t think my OSU MADA shirts will be one of my favorites anymore, but will I throw it out? NO! Of course not I love those shirt they are so comfortable! They will sit in my closet and be wore once every two months until I never wear them and then they will be put into a box for my someday mile-long t-shirt quilt.

In class we spoke about how those clothes will not stop me, or make me even think twice about buying a new shirt for going out on Friday nights. Even though I probably just bought another Friday night out shirt last month! Niinimaki and Koskinea also have the reason for this, the feeling of excitement at the point of purchase give me a great high, walking out of the store with a bag full of new things are awesome, almost nothing compares to it. Once I get that product home and I find out it does not perform to the standard I envisioned it would I may never take the tags off. With this in mind and brought to my attention I am trying to change that. I am actually wear a shirt right now that I talked myself into buying because I thought I could use it for work upon graduating. Well come to find out it falls under that annoying tummy shirt trend that is coming back from the 90s. So to say the least it did not meet my product expectations. But it’s still a cute top so I paired it with a matching undershirt and plan to continue using it for laid back days off. But I don’t think I can ever change the fact I just enjoy shopping and find it exciting and a major part of my distressing route.

Now the issue to all these problems is the designer isn’t going to know each consumer’s individual product expectations and what is going to make them love that shirt forever. For the most part consumers don’t even know what’s going to make them love that shirt forever until the event actually happens, it just happened to be the day I wore my red lace top and bam I meet Norman Reddus from the walking dead on the street and he gave me a hug. OMG I’m never washing this shirt again! But a sure fire way to help designers make sure their product is one of these irreplaceable pieces is to make sure the product at least matches the consumer’s product expectations. Hence increasing the number of times they wear it thus increasing the like hood they will experience something that makes that article of clothing irreplaceable. How do they make sure it matches product expectations? Design probing is defiantly a tool that can really help.

Design probes are really fun and interesting look into someone’s life. They are a kit of activities and questions intended for your regular target consumer and they fill out the packet long with photographing their daily activities. With this knowledge in hand you get a great glimpse of your target consumer’s life style making it easier to evaluate their expectations out of their purchases. We did our own in class and the people who reviewed mine were pretty spot on about my lifestyle and even gave some practices to improve my sustainably procedures that I was already using. That group has a better understanding of who I am as a person and what I enjoy doing. So they were able to build an environment that sounded absolutely amazing for me. They were also able to tell things about the person by the background of their pictures, that the taker may or may not have been aware of. The drawback to this type of study is that people can hide or change key elements that they find embarrassing and this can change what the viewer may decide their ultimate lifestyle really is. Another drawback is the designer can misinterpret the message the consumer is trying to come across with. But can be fixed with an interview afterward to get what the consumer was really trying to say, I think that the interview afterwards is extremely important to making this kind of study a success. I really enjoyed learning about the probes and seeing what my life looks like from the outside was really eye opening to see what others see me doing.

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1 Response to The Clothing in Boxes and Probing the Consumer

  1. Dr. Cosette Armstrong says:

    Excellent reflection! I think you may be missing a prompt here?

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