No. 1 (2023)

Fashion Design Practices and Emerging Transformations: A Case of Interdependence Between Fashion Creative Processes and Manufacturing System in the Made in Italy Districts

Chiara Colombi
Design department | Politecnico di Milano
Gabriele Goretti
School of Design | Jiangnan University
first number yellow cover of fashion highlight journal with black logo

Published 2023-06-30


  • Fashion Design,
  • Creative Processes,
  • New European Bauhaus,
  • Digitalization Sustainability

How to Cite

Colombi, C., & Goretti, G. (2023). Fashion Design Practices and Emerging Transformations: A Case of Interdependence Between Fashion Creative Processes and Manufacturing System in the Made in Italy Districts. Fashion Highlight, (1), 8–17.


The current article focuses on emerging transformations in fashion creative processes in regard of the enhancement of digitalization processes, the opportunities offered by new sustainable business models, and a new relation between user, production, and consumption. In particular, this article discusses the case of the Italian manufacturing districts where digitalization strongly pervades the production, integrating the local craftsmanship savoir-faire with up-to-date technologies. Within the strategic duo
“fashion and technology”, we highlight emerging opportunities for the integration of creative processes and manufacturing skills. Moreover, the need for sustainable practices offers new significant insights into the integration of the roles of the designer and manufacturing processes. Moving from this discussion, the article presents an overview of ongoing transformations of fashion design practices in relation to the technological and social issues, offering a framework to read the articles included in this issue.


  1. Becattini, G. (2004). Industrial districts – A new approach to industrial change. Edward Elgar Publishing.
  2. Bertola, P. (2018). Reshaping fashion education for the 21st century world. In N. Nimkulrat, U. Ulla Ræbild, & A. Piper (Eds), Soft
  3. landing (pp. 7–16). Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture.
  4. Bertola, P., & Colombi, C. (2021). Reflecting on the future of fashion design education: New education models and emerging topics in fashion design. In E. Paulicelli, V. Manlow, & E. Wissinger (Eds.), The Routledge companion to fashion studies (pp. 90–99).Taylor & Francis.
  5. Bertola, P., Colombi, C., & Vacca, F. (2018). FASHIONabilities: Planning and managing design processes in fashion. Mandragora.
  6. Bertola, P., Vacca, F., Iannilli, V. M., & Augello, M. (2016). Design research and sense-making in culture intensive industries: Driving innovation through a design reading of cultural evolutions. The Design Journal, 19(2), 237–251.
  7. Brozzi, R., D’Amico, R. D., Pasetti Monizza, G., Marcher, C., Riedl, M., & Matt, D. (2018). Design of self-assessment tools to measure industry 4.0 readiness – A methodological approach for craftsmanship SMEs. In P. Chiabert, A. Bouras, F. Noël, F., & J. Ríos (Eds.), Product lifecycle management to support industry 4.0 (pp. 566–578). Springer, Cham.
  8. Bucchi, M. (2010). Scienza e società. Introduzione alla sociologia della scienza. Raffaello Cortina (Italian edition only).
  9. Calefato, P. (2021). La moda e il corpo. Teorie, concetti, prospettive critiche. Carocci (Italian edition only).
  10. Casciani, D., Chkanikova, O., & Pal, R. (2022). Exploring the nature of digital transformation in the fashion industry opportunities for supply chains, business models, and sustainability-oriented innovations. Sustainability: Science, Practice, & Policy, 18(1), 773–795.
  11. Cross, N. (2001). Designerly ways of knowing: Design discipline versus design science. Design Issues, 17(3), 49–55.
  12. Csordas, J. (1999). Embodiment and cultural phenomenology. In G. Weiss & F. H. Haber (Eds.), Perspectives on embodiment: The
  13. intersections of nature and culture (pp. 143–162). Routledge.
  14. Ellen MacArthur Foundation. (2013). Towards the circular economy: Economic and business rationale for an accelerated transition. Ellen MacArthur Foundation.
  15. Epifani, S. (2020). Sostenibilità digitale – Perché la sostenibilità non può fare a meno della trasformazione digitale. Digital Transformation Institute.
  16. European Commission - Directorate General for Research and Innovation (2021). Industry 5.0—Towards a Sustainable, Human-
  17. Centric and Resilient European Industry. Retrieved from
  18. and-data/publications/all-publications/industry-50-towardssustainable-human-centric-and-resilient-european-industry_en
  19. European Commission (2021). New European Bauhaus Beautiful, Sustainable, Together. COM(2021) 573 final. Retrieved from
  20. Fiorani, E. (2006). Moda, corpo, immaginario. Edizioni POLI. design (Italian edition only).
  21. Floridi, L. (2020). The fight for digital sovereignty: What it is, and why it matters, especially for the EU. Philosophy & Technology, 33, 369–378.
  22. Fry, A., Goretti, G., Ladhib, S., Cianfanelli, E., & Overby, C. (2017). Advanced craft, integrated with the Saper Fare – The role of
  23. intangible value, and the centrality of the artisan in high-quality 21st century artisanship. Cuadernos del Centro de Estudios en
  24. Diseño y Comunicación, 18(64), 255–276. Fry, T. (2009). Design futuring: Sustainability, ethics and new
  25. practice. Bloomsbury. Gambi, S. (2020, March 20). Il riciclato di Prato, un esempio virtuoso di economia circolare che ha conquistato la copertina
  26. del National Geographic. SoloModaSostenibile. il-riciclato-di-prato-nationalgeographic/
  27. Goldberg, S. (2020, February 18). Why we dedicated our cover story to ‘the end of trash’. National Geographic. https://www.
  29. Goretti, G. (2022). Design e artigianalità avanzata. Il progetto Crafting Europe, percorsi esplorativi di co-design tra designer e
  30. artigiani supportati dalle tecnologie digitali. Aracne.
  31. Goretti, G., & Chikh M’hamed, S. (2022). Genius loci and emerging sustainable fashion strategies: Two significant case histories in Italy and Tunisia. Pad Pages on Arts and Design (21), Palermo (Italy).
  32. Hawkes, J. (2001). The Fourth Pillar of Sustainability: Culture’s Essential Role in Public Planning. Melbourne: Commonground Publishing.
  33. Islam, M. T., Rounak, J., Jahan, M., Howlader, M.S., Islam, R., Islam, M. M., Hossen, M. S., Kumar, A., & Robin, A. H. (2022). Sustainable textile industry: An overview. Non-Metallic Material Science, 4(2), 15–32.
  34. Krippendorff, K. (1989). On the essential contexts of artifacts or on the proposition that “design is making sense (of things)”. Design
  35. Issues, 5(2), 9–38. Krippendorff, K. (1990). Product semantics: A triangulation and four design theories. In S. Väkevä (Ed.), Product Semantic ’89.
  36. University of Industrial Arts.
  37. Krippendorff, K. (2006). The semantic turn: A new foundation for design. CRC Press.
  38. Kunzig, R. (2020, March). The end of trash. National Geographic.
  39. Manzini, E. (2022). Fashion as diversity and care. Sustainability: Science, Practice and Policy, 18(1), 463–465
  40. McKibbin, W. J., & Fernando, R. (2020). The global macroeconomic impacts of COVID-19: Seven scenarios. Asian
  41. Economic Papers, 19(1), 1–30.
  42. McKinsey & Company. (2021). The state of fashion 2021. Retrieved from
  43. Morace, F., & Lanzone, G. (2010). Verità e bellezza – Una scommessa per il futuro dell’Italia. Nomos Edizioni.
  44. Nambisan, S., Lyytinen, K., Majchrzak, A., & Song, M. (2017). Digital innovation management – Reinventing innovation management research in a digital world. MIS Quarterly, 41(1), 223–238.
  45. Norman, D. A., & Verganti, R. (2014). Incremental and radical innovation: Design research versus technology and meaning change. Design Issues, 30(1), 78–96.
  46. Payne, A. (2019). Fashion futuring in the Anthropocene: Sustainable fashion as “taming” and “rewilding”. Fashion Theory, 23(1), 5–23.
  47. Penati, A. (1999). Mappe dell’innovazione. Etas (Italian edition only).
  48. Pinch, T. (2005). How users matter: The co-construction of users and technology (Inside Technology). MIT Press.
  49. Rullani, E. (2014). Manifattura in transizione (Manufacture in transition). Sinergie: Italian Journal of Management, 32, 141–152.
  50. Serrano, R., Rodrigues, L. H., Lacerda, D. P., & Paraboni, P. B. (2018). Systems thinking and scenario planning: Application in the clothing sector. Systemic Practice and Action Research, 31(5), 509–537
  51. Serrano, R., Fortunati, L., & Lacerda, D. P. (2022). Wearable technologies in the fashion value ecosystem: A conceptual model. Innovation & Management Review, 19(2), 90–105.
  52. Schön, D. A. (1983). The reflective practitioner: How professionals think in action (1st ed.). Basic Books.
  53. Schwab, K. (2017). The fourth industrial revolution. Portfolio Penguin.
  54. Simon, H. A. (1969). The sciences of the artificial (1st ed.). MIT Press.
  55. Teece, D. J. (2017). Dynamic capabilities and (digital) platform lifecycles: Entrepreneurship, innovation, and platforms. Advances in Strategic Management, 37, 211–225.
  56. United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG). (2010). Culture, The Fourth Pillar of Sustainability. Retrieved from <>.
  57. Vaccari, A., & Vanni, I. (2020). Fashion futuring: un modello di produzione sostenibile nella moda. In M. A. Barucco, F. Bulegato, & A. Vaccari. (Eds.), Remanufacturing Italy. L’Italia nell’epoca della postproduzione (pp. 48-61). Mimesis-DCP IUAV.
  58. Zabulis, X., Meghini, C., Partarakis, N., Kaplanidi, D., Doulgeraki, P., Karuzaki, E., Stefanidi, E., Evdemon, T., Metilli, D., Bartalesi,
  59. V., Fasoula, M., Tasiopoulou, E., & Beisswenger, C. (2019). What is needed to digitise knowledge on Heritage Crafts. Memoriamedia
  60. Review, 4, 1-25.