Physical and Digital Environments: Engaging Fashion Design Students in Archival Research

  • Evans, Claire (University of Huddersfield, Creative Arts Building) ;
  • Allen, Claire (University of Huddersfield, Creative Arts Building) ;
  • Shah, Karen (University of Huddersfield, Creative Arts Building)
  • Received : 2014.04.01
  • Accepted : 2014.06.14
  • Published : 2014.06.30


With the rapid development of digital technologies potential exists to expand upon the accessibility of fashion archives and increase their use as a pedagogical tool for research. At present this is compromised due the three-dimensional, tactile nature of the objects being viewed and the fact that they are not necessarily replicable in a digital format. The aim of this paper is to examine art and design students physical object research skills and discuss how they are positioned in relation to creative tools and strategies they use to produce outcomes such as they own collections and design responses. Findings and conclusions are drawn from projects concerned with the development and use of physical and virtual archives and inform the methodology used. Traditional methods and tools within higher education are discussed together with students increased use of digital resources and innovative ways to engage students. The academic challenge of supporting student engagement in archival research across digital and physical dimensions is explored. The papers findings indicate a need for further research considering the impact of digital technology on students' physical integration with archives and the need for more structured support surrounding student physical and digital research investigations.


  1. Allen, C., & Evans, C. (2012). Going beyond the obvious: Engaging fashion design and reflection and self motivated investigation. In R. Fisher & D. Riha (Series Eds.), L. P. a. J. R. Barbara Brownie (Ed.) Fashion: Exploring Critical Issues (pp. 311-321). Retrieved from
  2. Beetham, H., & Sharpe, R. (2013). Rethinking Pedagogy for a Digital Age: designing for 21st century learning (2nd ed.) London: Routledge.
  3. Cross, N. (2008). Designerly ways of knowing. London: Birkhauser.
  4. Evans, C. (2011). Developing the perfect fashion archive. In R. Fisher & D. Riha (Series Eds.), A. De Witt-Paul & M. Crouch (Eds.), Fashion Forward (pp. 233-243). Retrieved from
  5. Evans, C., & Allen, C. (2012). Undergraduate student research skills for the 21st century: Pedagogical investigation for engaging the millennials beyond surface learning. Paper presented at the 9th ICED Conference 2012, Bangkok, Thailand. Retrieved from
  6. Facer, K. (2011). Learning futures: education, technology and social change. London: Routledge.
  7. Harding, D., & Ingraham, B. (2013). The Art of Design. In H. Beetham & R. Sharpe (Eds.), Rethinking pedagogy for a digital age: designing for 21st century learning (pp. 177-187). London: Routledge.
  8. Healy, R. (2008). The Parody of the Motley Cadaver: Displaying the Funeral of Fashion. The Design Journal, 11(3), 255-255. doi: 10.2752/175630608x365172
  9. Jones, C., & Shao, B. (2011). The net generation and digital natives: implications for higher education (pp. 1-53). York: The Higher Education Academy. Retrieved from assets/documents/learningandtech/next-generation-and-digital-natives.pdf
  10. Kawamura, Y. (2011). Doing research in fashion and dress: an introduction to qualitative methods. Oxford: Berg.
  11. LeviStrauss, & Co. (2010a). Design Inspiration from the Archives. The Archive. Retrieved from
  12. LeviStrauss, & Co. (2010b). Heritage. Archives. Retrieved February 7, 2012, Retrieved from
  13. McKelvey, K. (2011). Fashion Design : Process, Innovation and Practice (2nd ed.). Hoboken, NJ, USA: Wiley.
  14. Nicholas, D., Rowlands, I., Withey, R., & Dobrowplski, T. (2008). The Digital Consumer: an introduction and philosophy. In D. Nicohlas & I. Rowlands (Eds.), Digital Consumers reshaping the information profession (pp. 1-11). London: Facet Publishing.
  15. Oblinger, D. (2003). Boomers & Gen-Xers Millennials: Understanding the new students. EDUCAUSE Review, 38(4), 36. Retrieved from
  16. Oblinger, D. (2012). Change and Choice. EDUCAUSE Review, 47(5), 6. Retrieved from
  17. Seivewright, S. (2007). Research and design (Vol. 1). London: AVA Academia.
  18. Selwyn, N. (2009). The digital native - myth and reality. Aslib Proceedings: New Information Perspectives, 61(4), 364-379. doi: 10.1108/00012530910973776
  19. Shreeve, A., Sims, E., & Trowler, P. (2010). "A Kind of Exchange": Learning from Art and Design Teaching. Higher Education Research and Development, 29(2), 125-138. doi: 10.1080/0729436090338426
  20. Sorger, R., & Udale, J. (2006). The fundamentals of fashion design. London: AVA Academia.
  21. Spear, S. (2007). The old ones are the best. Drapers, 1(June), 34-34.
  22. Tapscott, D., & Williams, A. D. (2010). Innovating the 21st-Century University: It's Time. EDUCAUSE Review, 45(1), 16-18. Retrieved from
  23. Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of practice: Learning, meaning, and identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.