BACKGROUND : The number of apparel manufacturers in the South African clothing and textile
industry is diminishing due to competition with importing apparel manufacturers.
Nevertheless, South African small and micro-businesses still manufacture clothing products to
meet the needs of the local markets.
AIM : This study set out to explore and describe the role of collective creativity in the design
process of a South African clothing small business that provides innovative clothing to local
SETTING : The small and micro-businesses are typically owned by designers who can be viewed
as artisan entrepreneurs. However, the competition for the local market is very competitive,
and innovative designs and design processes can promote the competitiveness of the clothing
small and micro-businesses.
METHOD : A case study research design was implemented in the study, which included
qualitative research methods. Semi-structured interviews, participant observation and analysis
of the products against an innovation design framework were done.
RESULTS : The findings suggest that a collaborative design process supports the collective
creativity of the particular owner-designers. Collective creativity enables innovative clothing
products that result from the design process and it also reduced the perceived risk that the
owner-designers experienced with regard to launching a ready-to-wear range.
CONCLUSION : It is argued that collective creativity contributes to sustaining innovative design
and enhances abductive reasoning for problem solving. Abductive reasoning, which is
typically associated with design thinking, could be important for entrepreneurial thinking and
recommendations in this regard are made.