& He Yang
Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology, China
Designers, Producers, and Users: Minority women's three identities in their costume culture
Different from the modern fashion design industry where the roles of designer, producer and user are distinct, in traditional minority societies of China, the minority women have a triplet of identities: as designers, they are people of uneven talents who must design within limited space by following the given styles of their costume; as producers, they are amateurs who not only have to participate in daily chores but also make lots of costume; as users, they are women of various ages and appearances who do not have the perfect figures of models.
This paper focuses on the style and design detail of minority costume, and analyses the roles played by the minority women from the perspectives of design, production and use by the methods of sample measurement, field investigation and comprehensive comparison.
First, the features of minority costume in its style, structure and decoration are summarised through sample analysis. Taking the pattern as a primary example, the paper illustrates how the minority women innovate on the basis of traditional constraints so that the costume expresses individuality while adhering to the styles of the minority groups to which they belong. Second, based on fieldwork, the methods and procedures of making costume by the minority women are interpreted and analysed, noting how they accomplish the production successfully and swiftly, with the same or similar costume to mark different social identities. This establishes their identities as producers so that they are recognised by their ethnic groups. Third, by analysing the way the minority people wear and match their costume, the impact between the users and the resultant costumes are discussed. From these three aspects of the exposition, a conclusion is drawn that the triplet of identities is relevant to the modern fashion industry, as it dissolves the separation of the three identities, involves more people in the design and production processes, and allows the design work to benefit both production and use.