Rethinking the Roles of Fashion Designers: The Case of Pre Helsinki

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This paper discusses the diverse roles fashion designers play in the contemporary fashion industry. Taking Finland as a case, it particularly investigates how fashion designers are involved in regional identity formation. By conceptualizing the place-making ability of fashion designers, it adds a new perspective on the expanded roles of fashion designers recognized in design research. This is done through exploration of Pre Helsinki, a platform launched in 2013 seeking to internationalize Finnish fashion. This platform, created and operated mostly by fashion designers, serves as a vivid example of the different roles that designers can play. The study is based on qualitative methods, namely, semi-structured interviews and ethnographic observation. Five characteristics of Pre Helsinki and five fashion designers’ corresponding roles were identified, based on thematic analysis of the data. This paper concludes with suggestions for further investigation on fashion designers to establish a dialogue between fashion and design research.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDesign for Next
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of the 12th European Academy of Design Conference
EditorsLoredana Di Lucchio, Lorenzo Imbesi, Paul Atkinson
PublisherTaylor & Francis
ISBN (Electronic)9781138090231
Publication statusPublished - 12 Apr 2017
MoE publication typeA4 Conference publication
EventInternational European Academy of Design Conference - Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy
Duration: 12 Apr 201714 Apr 2017
Conference number: 12

Publication series

NameThe Design Journal
NumberSupplement 1
ISSN (Print)1460-6925
ISSN (Electronic)1756-3062


ConferenceInternational European Academy of Design Conference
Abbreviated titleEAD
Internet address


  • fashion designers
  • fashion design
  • place-making
  • case study
  • regional identity


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