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Fashioning clothing with and for mature women: a small-scale sustainable design business model

Katherine Townsend (Art And Design, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK)
Anthony Kent (Art And Design, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK)
Ania Sadkowska (Art and Design, Coventry University, Coventry, UK)

Management Decision

ISSN: 0025-1747

Article publication date: 1 August 2018

Issue publication date: 8 January 2019




An ageing population in the developed world has become a significant topic in the contemporary research agenda. The purpose of this paper is to report on the development of a new small-scale business model based on facilitating in-depth understanding and responding to mature female consumers’ needs and expectations towards fashionable clothing.


Two complementary approaches are used: interpretative phenomenological analysis allows the researchers to employ the life-course perspective and to develop in-depth understanding of individuals’ present experiences in relation to their past. Action research offers the possibility to develop participatory, co-design processes based on collective creativity and mutual knowledge exchange between the stakeholders.


The research finds a strong interest in fashionable clothing by women, irrespective of their age. The action-based co-design process involving collaborative encounters with mature consumers creates a dynamic capability for alternative fashion design methodologies. This approach can contribute to a small-scale fashion business model for the mature women’s fashion market.

Practical implications

The women in the study stress the need for a more inclusive design process and expressed a willingness to buy from a brand/retailer who would offer them such a collaborative opportunity. There are practical implications for how a more flexible sizing approach to the design of fashion for older women could be implemented.


This research makes a contribution to practice-based design solutions for mature women and a new inclusive business model based on emotional durability. The innovative methodological approach contributes to the field of ethical and sustainable fashion design.



Townsend, K., Kent, A. and Sadkowska, A. (2019), "Fashioning clothing with and for mature women: a small-scale sustainable design business model", Management Decision, Vol. 57 No. 1, pp. 3-20.



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