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Fashion (MA)

Morag Seaton

Morag Seaton is a Scottish fashion designer and maker working in London. She graduated from the Glasgow School of Art where she received awards for sustainability, the dissertation prize and the John Byrne Award for ‘Garment Stories’. Morag has since worked across fashion production, arts and culture, and garment technology, most recently for the UKRI Textiles Circularity Centre at the Royal College of Art. She co-runs Worn, an organisation that engages people with the emotional and environmental significance of their clothes.

The fundamental components of Morag’s creative practice include abstract tailoring, pockets, fashion systems and speculative design. Each component is carefully researched and stitched together with a distinct visual language. Her individual and collaborative projects are led by conversations, workshops and other public engagement research she facilitates with people about their clothing experiences, understandings and fictional ideas. Usually starting with an everyday or speculative question, Morag’s work seeks to unpack the socio-cultural, environmental and personal significance of the objects we wear.

With special thanks to my sponsors, the Elsener Family (Decode Design) and to Halley Stevensons Ltd. for their generous donation of materials.  

Morag, white Scottish female in her late twenties with brown hair, sitting in the studio and painting onto a leather pocket bag.

Questions for an Archive

The following projects are investigations of the Archive I have been building: a growing collection of exchanges and responses to the questions I ask people about their relationships to their clothes. From: ‘How do clothes give the body power?’ to ‘If you could find anything in your pocket what would you want to find?’ the responses are carefully collected, dissected and played with through visual design, fashion, scent, performance and more. As a whole, the Archive and associated projects aim to celebrate individual and collective experiences of dress, to push the boundaries of fashion speculation, and share insights that can help change the way we think about clothes.

The work, as a collection, is titled ‘Questions for an Archive’ and refers to not only the questions that I ask people, but the act of questioning the archive itself. The practice of archiving and documenting fashion biographies and artefacts has historically prioritised stories and objects of the elite. ‘Questions for an Archive’ therefore acts as a prompt to challenge preconceived ideas of what information is worth preserving. As even the mundane, ordinary pocket has the potential to become something extraordinary.

‘A Pocket Guide to Using Pockets’ is a 12-step instruction manual depicting different pocket acts and their stories. The guide includes everyday clothing rituals, pocket transactions, and other repeated dressing habits that together paint a picture of individual characters and shared cultures. The pocket uniform is a collection of carefully constructed garments with multiple discreet and indiscreet pocket openings. The garments have been produced with Scottish linen, wools, factory rejects and other obsolescences. Each pocket ritual is accompanied with a story from a clothing archive, a space which encompasses hundreds of everyday conversations about clothes. These documented dialogues have been collected by speaking to and observing people, which are then played with and dissected to challenge preconceptions and reveal alternative perspectives of how clothes should be worn. 

Three small books titled 'A Pocket Guide to Using Pockets' with a white cover and red image.
Details of a pair of cotton work trousers next to a description of a woman talking about going to a dance and meeting a man.
Fashion illustrations of people, clothes and pocket details worn in black, grey and red.
A scan of the inside pages of a book. Three individuals pose with their hands in their pockets wearing grey and red.

A commute means to travel some distance between one’s home and place of work on a regular basis. An everyday circumstance that so many of us attend daily, yet experience in multifaceted ways. The Commute: Journeys of a Pocket Scent is a public archive and scented installation series that documents the individual and collective experiences of commuting to work. This project starts with a series of postcards, carefully inscribed with individual scent journeys and collected in a digital archive. Before developing into a series of scented public installations and fashion artefacts that together ask important questions about how we live our everyday.

Purple scanned postcards with questions on them like 'What did you smell on your commute?'
A very large green cotton pocket with images of people smelling inside.
Two big posters in green and red titled 'the smells of a city'.
Illustrations of large pockets as posters, on bus stops, attached to running people and as large installations.
A scanned postcard titled 'of cold air and salt' with a description of someone's journey to work by the sea.
A scanned postcard titled 'My eyes start running in the wind' with a description of someone's cycle to work in London.
A really big lime green pocket with someones hand reaching for the pocket flap.

Inspired by past, present and future encounters with eyewear, this project investigates the magical powers of glasses, their storytelling potential and relationship to our changing identity. Following a series of interviews and questions to the public on spectacles and their desired magical abilities, the final outcome stems from a conversation about enchanted eyewear that transforms with each emotion. 

Modular eyewear with different abstract frames in colours of red, yellow and pale green.
A leather case with a stitched red smile and handle the shape of acetate frames, the bag strap is made of small black cushions
A leather case with a stitched red smile and handle the shape of acetate frames, the bag strap is made of small blue cushions
Two sad pockets in red and dark grey.
Dictionary definitions of 'displacement' and 'body' with scribbled notes on top.
Red bumpy pocket vest made from an old cashmere jumper, illustrations of garment fittings with smiles and frowns drawn on top.
A person zoomed in and wearing a red boob bag next to an image of three red objects: a bag, a glove and a cup.
A model wearing a checkered black and white bag next to an image of a close up red sleeve with a sad face pocket on the elbow.
A pencil fashion illustration of some garments covered in faces next to an image of a black and white pocket shaped like a face.
A scan of a smiling face made of wax cotton and formed of pockets next to an image of the full garment on a tailors mannequin.

Details of a modular shirt, designed and produced for the UKRI Interdisciplinary Textiles Circularity Centre (TCC) at the Royal College of Art and exhibited at ‘The Regenerative Hub’, the Lab E20. A configurable shirt constructed from multiple modular pieces that sits within a body of work exploring new experience design for citizen participation in a circular economy.

Pieces of a white cotton shirt broken up and displayed on a black surface.
A modular white cotton shirt during and after construction.

Sustainable Futures Scholarship from the Elsener Family