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The Street as a Reflective Space to Increase Awareness of Social Justice in the Fashion Industry

Eduardo Rodríguez-Barbará - Faculty of Engineering - University of Deusto Bilbao, Spain,

Oihane Gómez-Carmona - Deustotech - University of DeustoBilbao, Spain,

Airí Ferrer - Fashion Revolution Euskadi, Bilbao, Spain,

Braulio Gómez-Fortes - Faculty of social and Human sciences - University of Deusto Bilbao, Spain,

Szilard A. Kados - Faculty of Engineering and DeustoFabLab - University of Deusto Bilbao, Spain,

Diego López-de-Ipiña - Faculty of Engineering - University of Deusto Bilbao, Spain,

Diego Casado-Mansilla - Faculty of Engineering - University of Deusto Bilbao, Spain,


The fashion industry must be completely reshaped to be fair and just for all the actors involved, but overall for the farmers who produce the textile fabric and the sewing workers who make the final garments. In the last ten years, several researchers, NGOs, social movements and grassroots have designed and developed targeted campaigns to raise citizen awareness of the working conditions, work environment, and low wages of some workers in the textile industry. Nevertheless, the use of interactive technology to engage, attract and make citizens reflect upon this social challenge has only started to flourish in contemporary interventions.

The work presented in this manuscript aims at converting the street into a reflective space to increase citizen awareness of social justice in the fashion industry through a technology-led interactive installation. Specifically, a vending machine was modified by leveraging some technological artefacts to convert it into an interactive device that sought to attract the attention of pedestrians. Once they stopped in front of the device, the vending machine presented them with the ethical dilemma of deciding to buy or not a 1€ t-shirt after being presented to the work conditions of cheap labour. The analysis of quantitative and qualitative data gathered during a one-day intervention in the main street of Bilbao (Spain) showed that the interaction was very effective in raising social awareness. This was especially true with some population segments who tested the installation (i.e., young-adults). A detailed discussion of the relevance of these types of street-level interventions when it comes to changing citizens’ mindsets is provided throughout the text.

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Figure 1: The hardware component set-up for the solution and an example of a participant interacting with the vendingmachine, while pedestrians crowd around and observe.

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