This study used the framework of esthetic response to analyze student perceptions of outerwear coats as one apparel product considered for its potential for extended wear. Through a pilot, six coats were selected from an historic collection spanning the twentieth century that were deemed to range in respect to the concept of classic design. Undergraduate students (n = 55) in a design communication and trends course were asked to respond to the six selected coats using 14 word pairs to measure their response to each coat. Then participants were asked in an open-ended question to summarize their response to the 6 coats as to their classic attributes. Responses were analyzed and compared with the systematic analysis of the formal, expressive and symbolic characteristics of the coats. Attributes of the coats that were deemed “classic” and “not classic” included coherence of the layout and surface structure in a simple and a clear visual statement, versatile in that the coat could become focus or background for the wearer, flattering to a variety of body types that allowed the wearer to feel good in the wearing. Their concept of classic involved a sophisticated style that related to current trends without slavish adherence to current fashion or any specific period. Through their examination and analysis, these students gained an understanding of what characteristics contribute to classic design that could help to extend their wearing of apparel and slow fashion in the future.
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This view of classic is supported by Loschek’s (2009) exploration of the meaning of innovation and creativity within the fashion system. In her research, she categorized revival or retro styles as not necessarily innovative but rather continually (re)negotiated within contemporary views about their original context (Loschek 2009). Furthermore, since some retro or revival styles might also be considered classic design, it is in their reinterpretation (without significantly altering the underlying forms) for which the viewer maintains cultural contextual knowledge which can then be attributed to classic design.
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- classic design
- slow fashion