Decentring fashion

Participatory practices for shifting narratives and regenerating cultures


  • Francesco Mazzarella University of the Arts London
  • Seher Mirza London College of Fashion, UAL


Fashion, decolonis, Sustainability, Narratives of change, regeneration, Community resilience, Participatory design, Transformative design


Historically, the textile heritage of minorities has often been subjected to cultural appropriation practices (Young, 2008) or systematically undervalued and ‘othered’ as ‘non-fashion’, as such ‘sacrifice zones’ do not sit within the confines of specific fashion systems (Niessen, 2020). Designers are often ‘parachuted’ into marginalised or disadvantaged communities premised on bringing their knowledge and expertise to solve other people’s problems. However, there is growing recognition of the need to ‘decolonise’ such dominant approaches in collaborative design practice (Escobar, 2018; Mignolo, 2018; Tunstall, 2023). Different methods have been applied, sometimes in tandem, to tackle the challenges that face us as well as define new roles for the designer under different contexts, such as design activism (Fuad-Luke, 2009, 2017), design for social justice (Constanza-Chock, 2020), social entrepreneurship (Martin & Osberg, 2007) and policy design (Bason, 2014; Kimbell et al., 2023).

Author Biography

Seher Mirza, London College of Fashion, UAL

Dr Francesco Mazzarella is Reader in Design for Social Change at London College of Fashion, UAL. Francesco’s research spans the fields of design activism, textile craftsmanship, decolonising fashion, design for sustainability, and social innovation. He is currently the Principal Investigator on the AHRC-funded ‘Decolonising Fashion and Textiles’ project.

Some project participants expressing themselves through their fashion creations. Photo by JC Candanedo.




How to Cite

Mazzarella, F., & Mirza, S. (2024). Decentring fashion : Participatory practices for shifting narratives and regenerating cultures. DISCERN: International Journal of Design for Social Change, Sustainable Innovation and Entrepreneurship, 5(1), 1–10. Retrieved from