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Fashion as an unexpected powerful medium for science

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"There are so many reasons that organisations like Crùbag can make a huge contribution to communicating science in new and different ways..."

Traditional public engagement with science activities often focus on families and/or children. While, undeniably, this is an important audience for science communication, it is so important that scientists are able to share their work, messages, and knowledge with a much wider public. Fashion is an unexpected medium for science, but it also has the ability to catch the public's attention and imagination, and to convey powerful messages - why not use this medium for science?

Working with Crùbag, in my experience, has provided me an opportunity to think about my science in a new way, which is much more creative and aesthetic, which in turn has improved my own ability to communicate it. I have worn the bright red scarf which Crubag and I designed together to numerous conferences and meetings, and I am often asked about it and where it came from. This then provides me with an opportunity to talk about my own research in completely unexpected and non-traditional settings, and enables me to weave my own story, and the story of the scarf together in a narrative about science.

The personal touch that this type of collaboration is built on makes it so much more engaging. I think of fashion as a tool we can use to invite new people with different perspectives into conversations about science, and that can only be a good thing!

Dr Raeanne Miller, Marine Ecologist

Important environmental science remains largely unknown to the majority of people. Art and fashion can bridge that gap and become a conduit for a new brighter future.

Fashion is not shallow. It is rather a powerful platform where culture, people's identity, and the zeitgeist are continually evolving and being expressed.

All of marine science matters as we live on a changing blue planet. We have to find creative ways of communicating important environmental science. By bringing different disciplines together, we can reach people's hearts and minds and help them reconnect to the fact that we are not separate from nature.  

I am Head of Communications for the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS), and my portfolio includes directing much of our public engagement work.

Crùbag could in some ways be called a ‘spin-out’ from SAMS as Jessica Giannotti developed her business idea for Crùbag from when she was an undergraduate student here, has constantly communicated with a range of staff here from senior researchers to inspire her collections to our outreach, graphic design and even our education teams. She is a tenant here at SAMS and we find outreach via fashion a very effective way to engage different audiences that we never reached before. What people wear is somehow part of their identity.

We also find a lot of marine scientists themselves very partial to marine science fashion – or to give as a present to demonstrate the beauty of what they do. Crùbag as a brand is, very importantly, a lot more than a fashion brand though as it is intrinsically linked to marine science education and outreach.

Just recently Jessica was part of a NERC funded public engagement project ‘Future of our Seas’ where Early Career Researchers put their public engagement training into action in a public event. Jessica had worked alongside a deep-sea researcher, who had provided young audiences with information which they then deepened and expressed in a textile design activity with Jessica.

Crùbag would bring all of marine science very tangibly to a wider public. SAMS has supported Crùbag over a few years and we hope the company will reach its next steps on its ascent.

"Dr Anuschka Miller, Scottish Association for Marine Science.

Jessica and I have had a long-standing collaboration, where she designed collections or PR items to support the communication of research projects that I have been leading, thanks to funding by the UK Natural Environment Research Council.

Her approach is very professional: whilst she is an artist in the most noble sense of the terms, she makes a point to deliver on time and on budget.

Collaborating with her has been hugely precious, as she combines the reliability needed from a business with the unmatched communication power of art.

Jessica’s designs are very varied, yet always striking and pleasing visually. Her work is an eye-opener for members of the public: her designs first create a wow factor, that she then capitalises on to explain about the marine environment.

It is a very powerful way to get across poorly-known, and often complex, conservation issues to the general public.

The accuracy and truth to the science underlying her creations also means that her work is hugely appreciated by scientists. In fact, my colleagues and I have also commissioned her several times to commemorate the work of renowned scientists.

As a result, some of her textile creations have been auctioned at the Phycological Society of America, a charity devoted to the advancement of algal science.

Prof. Claire Gachon, Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle in Paris

See how we share ocean literacy with our community. Our content is freely available on our website and printed materials. Now our next goal in 2021 is to measure impact for you.

Explore the science stories that inspired our collections

Crùbag Ocean Literacy

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