The Fashion Hackathon – FDSC
The Centre for Fashion Diversity & Social Change (FDSC) at Ryerson University draws on creative fashion mediums to collect, extend, analyze and share research to fuel diversity & social change.
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The Fashion Hackathon

The Fashion Hackathon draws on design activism to explore the gender identities and expressions of LGBTQ+ youth through fashion

Project Objectives and Background

The Fashion Hackathon was piloted in Ottawa in March 2017 and, due to the positive response from participants, it is now being expanded to include youth in Toronto.

This project draws on design activism as a methodology to explore the gender identities and expressions of LGBTQ+ youth through their engagement with fashion. To achieve this objective, we ask the following questions in a two-day co-design event:

 What are the multifaceted ways in which LGBTQ+ youth understand and perform gender through fashion?

 How can design activism be used to engage marginalized audiences to create an inclusive fashion industry?

Project Outcomes

The project culminated in a fashion show—which was also co-created by the high school students during workshops—where they presented their outfits and the meanings behind them to their peers, teachers and professionals from organizations which support youth.

The pilot Fashion Hackathon occurred in March 2017 in Ottawa.

The development of a framework to conceptualize LGBTQ+ youth’s diverse and fluid gender identities and expressions.

The creation of a new methodological approach—grounded in design activism—to understand the needs of marginalized consumer groups in the fashion industry.

The transformation of the fashion industry’s misconceptions about gender by educating LGBTQ+ youth in fashion and empowering them intervene in the fashion system. 

The project is currently being developed into a large-scale research project which will occur across Canada.



Collage-Making (Day 1)

Participants will be given a selection of current fashion magazines and, in small groups comprised of five youth, they will be asked to find images that represent the fashion industry’s representations of gender.

They will visually construct their responses through collage-making, and then present their collages to the larger group.

After these presentations, the small groups will participate in a design futures exercise in which they will generate new depictions of the ways in which they envision the representation of gender in fashion media. Using the magazines and craft materials, participants will hack their original collages to reflect their ideal representations of gender in fashion.

Fashion Hacking (Day 1 & 2)

Participants will be taken to a second-hand clothing store with a budget of $25 each. Once they return to the workshop, participants will create a new garment that reflects their gender identities and expressions.

Through the act of “hacking” — cutting, ripping, sewing and gluing their garments, participants will create clothing that demonstrates their understandings of gender and the types of garments that they would like to wear.

Fashion Show Co-Design (Day 2)

Participants will co-create and present a fashion show to share their hacked garments with their fellow participants.

Participants will be taught the various fashion show formats (i.e., salon presentation, runway presentation, pop-up show) and the fashion show production process.

Using this information, they will then collaboratively co-design a fashion show that expresses their understandings and performances of gender, including co-creating the show’s theme and selecting the music. Participants will be encouraged to model their own hacked garments and to narrate the fashion show.

Research Team

PI, MS Strategic Design & Management from Parsons


Daniel Drak’s mission is to design for good, designing to disrupt events and pragmatic political engagement strategies.

+ Ben Barry (Co-PI)


The Centre for Fashion Diversity & Social Change
FCAD Special Small Grant in Cultural Policy and Strategy
Ottawa Location provided by The Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity
Toronto Location provided by The School of Fashion