A few days ago I had the pleasure to be one of the 3 speakers at the VIA Design & Business University College teacher's sustainability conference. I was invited as the only student and was pleased to see that my passion for sustainability did not go unnoticed at the university where I am currently doing my studies and research. So, as a result I was invited to share my views on the subject.
VIA Design is the largest design and business academy in Scandinavia within the furniture, fashion and lifestyle sectors and it is the home of good design & innovation. The time spent studying here has made a distinctive contribution to my skills as a contextual fashion designer and I am most grateful for that.
Two inspiring teachers, one from VIA and one from Aalto University, Helsinki, held compelling presentations on the future of design and the new changes that are to come. I was pleased that my vision was shared and appreciated by my teachers and new exciting collaborations are to come from this lovely experience so stay tuned :)
Form follows feeling.
When discussing business opportunities with potential collaborators, friends or colleagues I always start by saying I have designed my business model based on Circular Economy principles. Since people ask me what that is, I figured I give you a quick insight explained in my own words. So here it is:
A Circular Economy is a new economic model that offers a balanced industrial ecosystem, one that mimics natural ecosystems.
As opposed to the current linear economy, it aims to radically limit the extraction of raw materials and the production of waste. It does this by increasing product life and recovering and reusing as many of the products and materials as possible, in a systemic way, over and over again.
You can think of Circular Economy as the water cycle on Earth: evaporates from oceans, lakes & streams ➡ condensates ➡precipitates ➡ back into the oceans, lakes & streams.
So, the circular economy is a mimic of the natural system : as one creatures reaches the end of its life, it becomes the fuel for another. The cycle in never-ending.
Further down you can see the Butterfly Diagram from Ellen MacArthur Foundation :"A circular economy seeks to rebuild capital, whether this is financial, manufactured, human, social or natural. This ensures enhanced flows of goods and services. The system diagram illustrates the continuous flow of technical and biological materials through the ‘value circle’ ."
Regardless of the places we choose to visit, we always see a different thing than the other one does, although we are looking at the same object. The eyes perceive but the mind creates, we all have our own universe. Beauty really is in the eye of the beholder.
For the past few months I've been lucky enough to be able to search for inspiration in many beautiful places. And beautiful experiences are always meant to be shared. Every travelling experience has helped develop my ideas on how to approach design in order to achieve what I have proposed myself: a sustainable innovative fashion line. I wish they inspire you as they did me.
Hope to have enough time to post again weekly, there is a lot of work to be done now for prototyping but it sure is fun when Form Follows Feeling :) .
Well, Copenhagen Fashion Summit is the world’s largest conference on sustainability & fashion. But while big brands are debating sustainability over there, are they also taking action?
Here are some takeaways from the Copenhagen Fashion Summit 2016 from Livia Firth (you can find out more about her here).
So be an active consumer! You decide where the direction of the fashion industry is going. Be responsible. Buy less, choose well and make it last! Form follows feeling.
*Image via Copenhagen Fashion Summit.
Less, but better, as the focus falls on the essential condition of the garment: functional responsible beauty. There is no use for burdening it with excess.
This is the final principle that wraps up the 10 principles that will guide my work. Among other aspects, we have talked before about long lasting style, versatility and timeless design. They will always be achieved by simplicity. The cleanliness of the form does more to the aesthetics than a crowd of non-essentials.
As long as a design achieves more with less, it is by far good design. The process to develop garments that will respect all of the other 9 principles (innovative, useful, long-lasting, environmentally-friendly, aesthetic, honest, unobtrusive, understandable and thorough down to the last detail) will be much longer and harder having as little design as possible in mind. But I believe that the struggle is worth it in order to generate timeless quality in my products. They will be made with you in mind. As always, Form Follows Feeling.
One thing is certain: nothing should be left to chance. When it comes to details, care and accuracy in the whole design process is a matter of respect towards the user.
There are a number of things that I believe are of equal importance when designing a garment. My usual work flow begins with these questions:
Where is the fabric coming from? Is it healthy to wear and sustainable?
How does the product work? What are its functions?
What happens with this garment at the end of it's life?
Is the construction of the product efficient and comfortable?
Have elements been added that do not add functional value to the product but adds design value?
What's the pilling tendency and dimensional change of the fabric?
What is the color fastness to washing and perspiration?
But today I am going to go into more detail with these ones...
It should all begin at an early stage, when deciding where you get your fabric from, how is it produced, in short: a healthy supply-chain. It is a good idea to follow the trace back to the fiber origin, see if it comes from a renewable resource or not, how does the process affect the environment, and what chemicals are used (they will further affect the user's skin). When it comes to the fabric that I am going to use I can tell you this: it is based on a sustainable and renewable resource, non-toxic organic solvents are used and the process of producing the fiber is a closed-loop one, that means that more than 99% of the solvent is recovered and reused. This means that it is extremely healthy to wear and very healthy for the environment as well (you can't get more sustainable than that :).
The next part is where you start making the designs. Here I think about comfort, usefulness, versatility and timeless styles. It is here that I also think about the product life-cycle of the garment, from start until the very end. Does it become waste or does it become nutrient for the soil? Design for disassembly is quite a new term in the industry but if you want to take care of everyone, not just the wearer, then you have to see the bigger picture and clean after yourself.
For me quality is divided into 4 categories: material quality; manufacturing and accessory quality,functional quality and value quality. I will always consider all of them in respect of the user, nature and my beliefs. After all, it's the details that matter.
We are coming to an end with the design principles. Make sure to catch the last one next week as well, it is as valuable as the others. As always, Form Follows Feeling.
It is not just about the look, it is what you make of it and what is promises. This post could not have come at a better time.
I would like to think that fashion has an added value to the world, something more than just aesthetics. Of course beauty is important but times change, and we have bigger possibilities now, there should be more that we can make from a piece of clothing and it's design needs to tell the story behind it.
Last week was Design Week all over Denmark and other countries. Be it Fashion, Interior Design, Architecture, creatives all over the world gathered to share ideas, discuss about innovation and start new collaborations that would bring fresh ideas to life.
I was one of the fortunate ones, I had the opportunity to meet and discuss with some interesting people at the Copenhagen Fashion Week. Understanding each other's vision was what brought us together. This has helped me take another step forward, attracting like-minded people, gaining new knowledge and developing relationships.
Clothes should communicate, clarify their structure. A good design is explicit about its DNA and the promise that it makes. Not overly complicated, a simple and to the point design, self-explanatory.
The next design principle will be coming up next week, make sure to catch them all as they are all, of course, connected. Form Follows Feeling.
Maybe not perfect, but honest; be sure that your clothes are authentic. As a designer, I will not make promises that I cannot keep.
In my opinion, honesty in a product traces back to the origin of the fiber, it's journey to becoming a yarn and then a fabric and in the end a piece of clothing. But honesty regarding a product is also about what happens to it when it is no longer needed; is it going to become waste, is it going to harm the environment? This is the awareness of the life cycle of a garment and the sustainability of fabric production for the future that a designer should thoroughly take into consideration when designing a garment.
Let's be honest about the industry of fashion, as well. Here are some of the facts:
- the second most pollutive industry in the world after oil
- between the yeas 2000 - 2010 our consumption of textile increased by 47%
- a production of 1 T-shirt requires 2670 Liters of water/ 700 gallons (let us remember that many of the world’s main manufacturing countries such as India, Bangladesh, China are currently struggling from water scarcity and pollution due to the increasing demand of the apparel industry.)
- cotton production is responsible for 15% if insecticides and 25% of pesticides GLOBALLY.
- it produces 20 million tons/ year of pure waste.
...It's nasty, but we can change things.
So sum up, in my honest opinion: buy smart, buy what you really need, and then take good care of it. Stay in touch, the next principle will be coming up next week, and all 10 of them are, of course, connected. Form Follows Feeling.