Topic: Diversity + Representation in Outdoor Apparel Design with LWD Member Jocelyn Rice
Hosted at WeWork Custom House
Jocelyn has been designing end use apparel for the Outdoor Sports and Lifestyle industry for over 9 years. Her designs have been featured in OK Magazine, Vogue, Jackson Hole Magazine and won multiple awards; including Ski Magazines Gear of the Year award and Outside Magazines Best Jacket of the year. Deeply committed to creating a more equitable and inclusive industry, Jocelyn is spearheading diversity efforts in her current role as the Lead category Designer of Columbia Sportswear’s Hunting and Fishing line of apparel. When not designing you will find her sharing her ideas on equity in the design industry through speaking and hosting events to mixed teams of creative and business professionals to have open, creative conversations regarding inclusion in design, and what can be done to bring more voices to the table.
Jocelyn began the meeting by sharing her career path into apparel design, and specifically her current niche of designing Hunting and Fishing apparel for Columbia Sportswear.
She was drawn to this category because she is so far removed from this consumer (out of her comfort zone) and she thinks it is one of the most difficult places to move the needle towards equitable design.
Jocelyn brought with her some of the pieces she has been part of designing and talked about how even though she had a background in apparel design, learning how to design and construct for the outdoor industry has been a whole other level of education. She really learned by doing and being in the industry, learning as she moved forward in the field. She discussed how the nuance of sewing for outdoor apparel is not often taught in school. She talked about designing for function within the recreation industry. Pointing out small details for functionality, a snap on front for a fishing rod or hole in the back of a shirt for a harness to pass though while hunting from a tree. She shared the other functions that have to be considered in her industry, the importance of sun, wind and snow protection. Often these functional details are life saving details that have to be considered.
We talked about not being the end user of your designs and how often this makes you more curious as a designer and enables you to observe in a way that being on this inside may not allow. As a designer this may make you better at observing the product in use, how people use, move and access the products you are designing. This idea is transferable to all industries, architecture, product, apparel, etc. As designers we are often not the demographic or the end user and although this can be a steep learning curve, it often exposes us to new industries and people that we never would have met. In Jocelyn’s case designing for recreation in hunting and fishing has led her to many adventures, most recently tarpon fishing in Florida, testing out and observing her designs in use.
Jocelyn’s questions when starting a design:
- The entire area where the activity takes place. Origin story. What describes the atmosphere and function of the content, including individual and shared space?
- Goal-Directed sets of actions. What are the pathways that people take toward the things they want to accomplish including specific actions and processes?
- How long do they spend doing something?
- Who do they do it with?
- Day vs. Multi Day, what does it look like? Define this for each garment.
- Who is present?
- What are their roles and relationships?
- What are their values and prejudices?
- What makes it a “must have?” for them?
- Interactions and Environment:
- What is the nature of routine an special interactions between people, between people ad their objects in their environment, across distances?
- What are the objects and devices people have in their environments? How do these relate to their activities?
Currently the hunting and fishing demographics in the US are made up mostly of white males. Jocelyn, who identifies as a black woman, uses her position to push the industry to think differently. She finds success in designing for a demographic that is so different from her own experience. She talked about the slow turn of the dial towards equity and having these conversations in the work place of mostly male colleagues. In her current industry she has never worked with a person of color and just once remembers having a female coworker. This opened up a conversation with the group discussing our own experiences with workplace demographics.
She shared her thoughts on the industry reality vs. imagination, her experience in commercial design vs. entrepreneurial and the design constraints in the corporate system.
Lastly, she led a conversation and brainstorming session around access, opportunity, and new demographics. Together we discussed what we all mean by “Inclusive Design” and the importance of diversity and belonging. We talked about diversity in all our industries and asked how do we insure the process of design and the tools used in designing are inclusive?
She asked us the question, “How do we cause some changes in our industry”?
For Jocelyn it can be a challenging position to be in, but who better to take this on.
Jocelyn’s curiosity and mindfulness help her remain interested in these questions and her strength of character, passion and drive help her to drive change.
Books, Research + Process Inspiration Jocelyn Shared:
- Black Girls Hike
- The Revolt of The Black Athlete
- To Love the Wind and the Rain
- The Birth of Cool – Style Narratives of the African Diaspora
- Hunting and Fishing in the New South
- Race and Retail: Consumption across the Color Line
- The Souls of Black Folk
Resources and Organizations Mentioned:
- Pensole Design Academy – A design academy specializing in footwear, functional apparel and accessories
- FAAS – Functional Apparel and Accessories Studio
- Designers + Diversity Blog
- Diversity in Design