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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Consumer product preferences of cultural textile products: Co-design with textile artisans from Guatemala and Peru
by Engel-Enright, Carol, Ph.D., Colorado State University, 2016, 189; 10138077
Abstract (Summary)

This study involved practice-based research with cultural textile weaving groups in Guatemala and Peru. Artisan textiles were co-designed with contemporary color palettes and layouts for backstrap weaving and patterns for hand embroidery. Sustainability-oriented innovation (SOI) provided a framework to explore implementation of co-design in the production of handcrafted cultural textile products. Fashion trends including color forecasts and product preferences may allow for incremental innovation in the product development process that will result in increased sales and income for artisans (Klewitz & Hansen, 2014). Innovation for sustainability allows relative improvements in process, product, and organizational innovations by creating more sustainable production methods. SOI has been found to be successful in the marketplace in niches or even mass markets (Schaltegger & Wagner, 2011).

Co-design was integrated into the textile design process through sharing pictures and technical diagrams working with cultural weaving organizations. Co-design is a process of collaborative design thinking involving joint inquiry and imagination in which diverse people explore and define a problem and collaboratively develop and evaluate solutions (Steen, 2013). Co-designed textiles were constructed into modern silhouettes for apparel, accessories, and home décor products. Co-design presents an opportunity to work with cultural textile artisans to create textiles and products with the intent to meet consumer preferences and expand product offerings and sales in the global marketplace.

Fifty-one artisan products integrating co-designed textiles and new product designs were displayed in a university gallery exhibition. The study examined consumer preferences of handcrafted cultural textile products in six product areas of apparel, accessories, home décor pillows, home décor framed textiles, tabletop, and furniture. Paper and pencil surveys were collected from voluntary visitors in the exhibition. Participants of the survey were asked to choose one product in the exhibition they would most like to own, record the number on the product, and "describe what you find most interesting and attractive about the product". A total of 261 responses were collected over sixty days of visitors to the exhibition. Participants' preferences for products selected as 'most like to own' were 69.6% apparel, 12.2% furniture, 6.4% home décor pillows, 5.7% fashion accessories, 3.1% home framed textiles, and 1.5% tabletop home décor.

Qualitative analysis of written descriptions of preferred products was analyzed. Four themes emerged for the exhibition visitors' user experience of the artisan textiles products: 'Modern mix with traditional'; 'I love the detail'; 'Pop of color'; and 'Versatility'. Qualitative analysis of the researcher's discussion of products along with a student designer's blog posts while working with weavers in Guatemala found four themes emerged for designers' experience: 'Textiles tell a story'; 'Women work hard'; 'Design collaboration'; and 'Sustainability'. Consumers described an emotional and personal experience while designers described a visual experience related to textile process and materials. Of products selected, 46% were co-designed cultural artisan textiles incorporated into contemporary products, 31% were authentic cultural vintage textiles co-designed in contemporary products, and 23% were authentic cultural textiles products created by the artisans.

Participants in the study completed an 8-item scale to determine their Desire for Unique Consumer Products (DUCP). Scores were related to product preferences for uniqueness, color, function, and quality of each Guatemala and Peru cultural textile product. Guatemalan product preferences were apparel and furniture, Peruvian product preferences were apparel. Preferences for most unique products positively correlated with product preferences for color, function, and quality.

The majority of participants (n = 251) were Millennials which gives a new perspective to prior research on cultural textile products. Twenty-two statements of values related to cultural creativity were measured and found characteristics of millennials had high scores for adventurous travel, internet use and shopping, and wearing fashionable clothing and low scores for book buying, holistic health practices, and wearing ethnic clothing. Millennials' product preferences for 'would most like to have' for Guatemala products were 46.4% apparel, 30.6% home décor pillows, 12.8% furniture, and 5.6% accessories. Millennial preferences for Peruvian products were 70.4% apparel, 16.7% for accessories, and 5.8% for furniture. Co-designed textiles and products had the highest preference for millennials. Exploratory factor analysis reduced the 22 statements to identify five factors of 'Ethnic', 'Sustainable', 'Connected', 'Cause', and 'Health'. Composite variables were created for each factor to determine if there were different product preferences for millennials between factors and high and low scorers within each factor. The same products held similar appeal for all factors. Millennials selected co-designed textiles designed into modern silhouettes in apparel, contemporary furniture, and home décor products for Guatemala. Millennials preferred co-designed apparel of textile insets and apparel silkscreened with cultural textile patterns for Peruvian products.

The sustainability-oriented innovation model was incorporated for incremental improvement in process, in this case the production process of cultural textile products. The findings can be used by artisan organizations to incorporate cultural textiles into products in apparel, accessories, home decor and furniture that may be perceived as unique by consumers. Participants' descriptions of products preferences may indicate that the co-design process with cultural textile artisans is beneficial in producing products relating to consumers' contemporary tastes and lifestyles. The analyses is exploratory in that concepts and relationships were evaluated in a specific time, space, and place, may inform artisan organizations in product design and development.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Makela, Carole, Gloeckner, Gene
Commitee: Dean, Tom, Miller, Nancy
School: Colorado State University
Department: Education (School of )
School Location: United States -- Colorado
Source: DAI-A 77/11(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Fashion, Marketing, Design
Keywords: Artisans, Co-design, Cultural creative, Cultural textiles, Fair trade, Uniqueness
Publication Number: 10138077
ISBN: 978-1-339-93688-8
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