Collective Common Occupation: An Auckland University of Technology (Fashion Department) project.

New Zealand fashion graduates find that the local industry is largely unable to offer jobs that are in any way aligned to their design training. While ‘throw-away’ mass-fashion remains dominant in the market place, it is incumbent on the design community to develop alternative strategies.  These strategies seek to offer both [self] employment opportunities in the creative sector, and a better, more sustainable product for the end consumer.

Creative Common Occupation (CCO) is a group of recent fashion design graduates from Auckland University of Technology. The collective is working together to produce design-led, quality local product; exploring new commercialisation strategies to enable them to thrive as creative practitioners.

The CCO project was developed using a co-design process involving stakeholders from the emerging designer and academic communities. Using design-led action research, the project involves ongoing workroom participation, culminating in a series of socially engaged retail events, typically held in vacant commercial and warehouse spaces. Over time, each cohort of designers in turn mentors the new incoming cohort.

Opportunities to participate in the collective are largely by word-of-mouth, with all designers entering the collective having a shared vision for original design, fair trade manufacturing and quality fabrications to support a ‘slow fashion’ ethos. In doing so, CCO provides an alternative model to the globalised mass-market fashion system. The strength of CCO is in production of high quality local product, with the designers having a physical connection to the complete process of making, in an endeavour to make their craft their occupation. The collective has supported the careers of a number of creatives in the New Zealand independent fashion sector, with some of the designers successfully taking their practice overseas.

Academic Supervisor: Linda Jones (AUT University).