Performance and Fashion-Based Activities in Social Design

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This article explores the fashion-related initiatives adopted by a Namibian nongovernmental organization (NGO)—Ombetja Yehinga Organization (OYO)—between 2006 and 2009. This NGO used fashion-based activities and performances to promote important social messages to Namibian youth. The article uses collective autoethnographic (CAE), narrative accounts, and a qualitative survey as data sources and adopts a reflexive and collective analytical approach. The article draws on existing theory and critical reflection to describe, analyze, and discuss OYO fashion–based activities. A framework for social designers is presented that considers how fashion shows and performances can be used to shape positive subjective and collective identities among Namibian youth to mitigate societal challenges, for example, those related to health, such as HIV/AIDS. The article suggests that fashion-based activities and performance are methods that can be used in the field of social design and interventions to generate a positive social impact. It also addresses the lack of assessment of the impact of arts-based initiatives.