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The Body & The Cloth


Darnell Ross

Design Management and Innovation track

Mentor — 

Dr. Yona Weitz

What can we learn about the bodily-lived experience of dress to influence fashion design and mediated expressions of identity?

As a fashion stylist with a career spanning 10 years in Israel and New York, I have experienced the ebb and flow of design trends and mediated representations of the fashioned body for the purpose of selling clothes and helping people look and feel good. From a design management point of view, I want to research and respond on the relationship between the body and clothing.

How do clothes enable or detract from self-actualization? How does the way we see ourselves and expect to be seen by others impact our dressing choices? What motivates us to constantly wear the same items of clothing, while abandoning other items we own?

The fashion industry attaches itself to fashionably social themes. Within the past 10 years, concerns regarding sustainability, diversity, social justice, and inclusion have become central in public discussion. According to a 2020 Vogue article titled, 'As Protests Mount, the Fashion Community Must Look Inward' consumer consciousness is at the forefront of consumer desires more than ever as brands are pressured to respond to these cultural shifts.

Japanese avant-garde designer Issey Miyake is an inspiration for my project as I investigate fashion’s role in how we identify ourselves. Miyake's design principles focus on the human body with the belief that the body should not manipulate itself to suit clothing. Instead, clothing should manipulate and evolve as humans do, embracing the fluidity of identity.

To map this personal relationship between the body and clothing, I created a comprehensive questionnaire inspired by Valle-Noronha’s 2017 research, which invites users to photograph themselves wearing two items they own: one they enjoy and one they dislike. What is the brand? What fabric is the item? Is it easy to put on? How does it feel on the body? What is your range of motion? Do you think this item could have value or interest in someone of the opposite gender? How do others perceive you when you wear this? What would you change?

This survey can unlock the nuances in the choice-making of clothing to help not only inform the design process but the mediated expression of fashion through advertising, down to merchandising in stores and online. Such data can also reveal how the power of emotional state and the impact that self vs societal expectations drives what we purchase and choose to wear day to day.

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Darnell Ross

Darnell Ross is a stylist and fashion consultant sharing his time between New York and Tel Aviv-Jaffa. During his five-year tenure with Tommy Hilfiger North America, Darnell’s eye for marrying relevant, consumer-focused trends with his own personal flair for the unconventional yielded impressive growth in sales. This dynamic role was formative in his understanding of the commercial fashion market and cross-functional digital marketing. He also had the opportunity to develop expertise in fashion styling for the differently-abled community via the Adaptive line, launched in 2016. Subsequently, he launched a brand consulting career in Tel Aviv. Darnell also lectured in Shenkar, and worked as a stylist in Netflix. Today he works on creative and digital content at Factory 54.

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