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Tuesday, July 14, 2020


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Sass Brown

Sass Brown
Global Artisanship and the Future of Luxury Fashion

The artisan sector is second only to agriculture in terms of employment in the developing world. This is an estimated $34 billion market, with 65 percent of artisan activity taking place in developing economies (Kerry 2015). Despite that, the artisan sector is not generally considered a key economic driver by governments, nor is it a major recipient of developmental aid. Nevertheless, artisan enterprises generate income, create jobs, foster economic communities, and preserve culture and meaning, all considered essential components of healthy sustainable development. Artisan enterprises serve as an important means of global job creation, particularly among women, and have been proven to achieve impressive poverty reduction. UNESCO reported that the development of small handicraft opportunities help to eradicate poverty and improve living standards (2017 The Aspen Institute cited UNESCO 2017). Yet most artisan enterprises are small, undercapitalized, and limited in market reach and economic impact.

The general aim of this research is to identify the collective best practices from across a broad range of governmental aid agencies, NGO’s and mission driven for profit’s whose aim is to support artisan enterprise in the textile and apparel sectors. The goal is to evaluate the effectiveness of a variety of different models, their commonalities and their differentiations, with the intent to develop a theoretical framework that could be used to support existing and future sustainable development programs in the craft sector.

A qualitative methodology and a multiple case study approach was identified as best suited to evaluating and differentiating across participants, and to compare findings across a wide variety of NGO’s, mission driven for profits and governmental agencies. The selection of the case study participants represents a broad range of those working with global artisanship without design intervention, with design intervention across a sliding scale from minimal to the complete imposition of other skills, and across a range of business and social supports, as well as those that partner and honour tradition, working together to contemporize end product for premium market acceptance. Those chosen for case studies were selected to represent a broad range of craft skills, and a variety of end products as it pertains to fashion, apparel and accessories, and to cover a range of business models from NGO’s, to governmental agencies and mission driven for profits from small to large in scale.


Research Degree: PhD, Part-time
Department: Manchester Fashion Institute
Research Centre: Manchester School of Art Research Centre
Funded: MMU Studentship