Design in Cheek
the user experience of fashion

a cultural probe kit to understand fashion appreciation

Cultural probes are incredibly fun and insightful. I was working on a project integrating emerging technology into fashion, and I wanted to learn more about how appreciation plays into what we wear. I decided to make a cultural probe to answer some questions and gain inspiration. I handed off a kit of the activities and materials to one housemate and got some amazing insights for my project.

Questions I was wanting to answer:

  • How do people appreciate their own clothing?
  • What personal value do people have behind their clothing?
  • What happens when we can’t see what we’re wearing?

Activity 1

Participant listened to the song Fashion by Lady Gaga and wrote down what clothes meant to them. It was very direct way to understand where they see value in their clothing. This activity was directly inspired by an activity from this amazing cultural probe.

Activity 2

Participant drew three pieces of their favorite clothing and used provided speech bubles to write down what the clothes woudl say if they could speak. This activity was meant to see why they chose their favorite pieces of clothing.

Activity 3

Participant was prompted to create an outfit that they could smell, hear, feel, and taste. Fashion has such a strong visual component to it that I wanted to know how people would be able to create an outfit that they couldn’t see.

Activity 4

Participant was prompted to create a finger outfit and backdrop to have a photoshoot. This was to allow them to express their creativity. Materials were provided.


  • The power in clothes is how we feel and portray that feeling
  • Our favorite items are based on how we show ourselves
  • We see our clothing as a representation

From the probe, I realized that fashion and clothing is such a personally embedded experience. Fashion is about how a person looks and feels. During the project, it was like I completely forgot about what was ingrained behind what we wear and our fashion choices. The probe helped me rescope my project goals and see more clearly what I should be aiming to design.

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