An Exploration of the Factors informing A Fashion Design Strategy for the Ageing Population in China

  • Minzhi Zhang

Student thesis: Phd


This research investigates the relationship between fashion and the older Chinese consumer and develops guidelines for fashion design development and marketing strategy targeted towards them. Building on an existing inclusive design knowledge loop (Keates and Clarkson, 2003), a mixed-method approach consisting of three sequential studies was applied. Study 1: conducted with 27 Chinese women aged 55-70 in Beijing to explore their fashion preferences using semi-structured interviews and dressing choices using wardrobe studies. Using this Study 2: developed 10 original designs of different garments with an age-appropriate design concept in sketches and a booklet to visually present the design choices of basic garment elements. Study 3: used the design sketches and booklet as toolkits and recruited a further 15 participants carrying out usability testing on the proposed garment designs by co-design activity. This research addressed a gap in the relationship between age-related characteristics, older consumer behaviour with respect to fashion, and fashion design criteria for older people in the academic literature and also provided a comprehensive understanding of the attitude of older Chinese women towards the fashion market in China. This research successfully developed a fashion design guideline identifying core values in a WASS framework generated from FEA framework in the literature review and visualised significant elements for fashion companies targeting the older Chinese population. This research also made a huge step forward on establishing by investigation the overall purchasing routine on apparel, and key factors of influence for older Chinese women. A chronological purchasing behaviour model (finding process, matching and evaluation, decision, and aftersale service) was proposed and could be used not only as a guideline, but also a check list for assisting fashion companies and brands to propose new business plans and alter their current marketing strategies to approach the older population more effectively. As a design-led project, this research presented a significant outcome in creating inclusive garment designs and developing design toolkits to assist the garment design generation process. Original proposed garment designs were tested by end-users in co-design and then the designs were adjusted to produce more concepts of design recommendations, which could be directly used in the actual production process. This research also highlights the feasibility of the concept that doing co-design with end-users can shape products in the design process and ensure the design outcomes are closer to user needs. The findings suggest a new pathway of designing general apparel products inclusively for the population, who have unique characteristics and specific dressing behaviours.
Date of Award1 Aug 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorRachel Studd (Supervisor) & Simeon Gill (Supervisor)

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