Materialising the interface between business development and designer aesthetic on the catwalk : a case from the New Zealand designer fashion industry.
Thesis DisciplineBusiness Administration
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Commerce
This thesis explores how designers within the New Zealand designer fashion industry manage the interface between business development and designer aesthetic, then materialise this on the catwalk. The investigation is guided by two research questions. The first looks specifically at finding the creativity-business balance, asking how designers manage their business development processes while considering their aesthetic. The second shifts to the fabrication of this interface, inquiring into how designers experience the process of materialising on the catwalk. A qualitative exploratory research design was implemented in order to collect the data for this research, taking an interpretive approach. Under this approach nine designers who presented collections at the 2014 iD Fashion Show were interviewed. In-depth analysis was conducted on the data provided by these designers. The data analysis revealed the importance of identifying showing objectives. These objectives provide a valuable insight into how designers manage the interface between creativity and business aspects. It was found that showing objectives were established by determining a designer’s enterprise orientation and identifying their target audience. Mills (2011a, 2011b) developed the concept of enterprise orientations, highlighting features of businesses that distinguish their orientation. This research revealed that target audiences are based upon the businesses’ stage of development. The analysis went on to reveal modifying factors that influence the materialisation of these objectives. It explained that these factors can be categorised as limiting or enabling factors, and vary in degree of influence. The data revealed that modifying factors are either available resources (internal or external) or show conditions. This research conceptualises the materialisation process experienced by New Zealand fashion designers when presenting a collection in a catwalk show. It summarises the process of materialisation graphically in a model. This model illustrates how showing objectives are first influenced by modifying factors before materialising on the catwalk. These findings stress the significant impact modifying factors can have on catwalk presentations. The contribution this research makes is particularly significant. Despite its growth and economic importance the existing scholarly research into the New Zealand designer fashion industry is scarce. Specifically, this investigation was designed to close a gap in the existing literature, advancing understanding of designer aesthetics and the creativity-business tension as well as providing new insight into how this materialises on the catwalk. This information is particularly valuable for fashion designers, business support people, PR practitioners, industry bodies, design education providers, and the New Zealand Government. Each of these parties may benefit significantly from a greater understanding of the tension between business processes and creativity and the increased insight into the catwalk as a platform for materialisation. Though the findings make a welcome contribution to the existing literature, there is scope for future research to build on the understandings developed from this research.
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