Robert Ott

Doctoral StudentRobert Ott

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Robert Ott is Chair and Associate Professor in the School of Fashion at Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada.

He holds a Master’s degree in the Management of Technology and Innovation and an undergraduate degree in Fashion Design, Apparel Production Management, both from Ryerson. His master’s thesis under the supervision of Dr. Wendy Cukier is entitled “Artisanal fashion design: entrepreneurs on thinking, process, and decision making”.

His teaching centres on experiential learning in fashion promotion and event planning. In addition, Robert is Academic and Executive Director of the FASHION ZONE and THE JOE FRESH CENTRE FOR FASHION INNOVATION, an incubator and accelerator for fashion-inspired start-ups at Ryerson University.



Fashion systems are mechanisms for the production and consumption of clothing. They change continually to adapt to changes in production technologies and consumer tastes and several systems operate at any one time. While the prevailing contemporary fashion system is structured around mass production, its manufacturing techniques are increasingly coming under scrutiny as working conditions and environmental effects are considered exploitative and unsustainable. Furthermore, contemporary fashion systems have largely displaced traditional fashion systems that rely on the handcrafting of one-of-a-kind artefacts. Recently, however, craftsmanship is seemingly enjoying a small but evident resurgence.

In his research, Robert is undertaking an ethnography of tailors and cordwainers to understand what embodied skills, materials, and tools of this traditional fashion system inform contemporary practices of craftsmanship. As a result this study will provide a perspective on how the body and materials interrelate, how work is organized, and what factors influence the making of bespoke fashion artefacts. The purpose of this research project is to make an empirical contribution to management studies literature by investigating the role of materiality and embodiment in the organization of work through craftsmanship.


Ott, R. (in press). The re-emergence of craftsmanship: embodiment and materiality in bespoke tailoring and cordwaining. 18th Annual IFFTI Conference, Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology, Beijing, China. March 22-27, 2016.

Ott, R. and Cukier, W. (2013). Artisanal fashion design: entrepreneurs on thinking, process, and decision making. International Textile and Apparel Association, Inc. Proceedings., pp. 52-53.

Ott, R. (2012). The cyclone of experiential learning: developing student leaders. International Textile and Apparel Association, Inc. Proceedings., pp. 33-34.

Commissioned writing

Ott, R. (in press). Foreword to Kin Yeung and the Quest for Harmony, by Richards, L.W., Dean Emeritus, School of Architecture, University of Toronto. Private publication of the life and work of Kin Yeung, founder of Chinese luxury firm Blanc de Chine.

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