A view on sustainability and design thinking for Buddha Jeans Company

Sustainability a buzz word?

Sustainability is fast becoming a buzz word throughout the design and fashion industry. Fashion and Ecology is a paradox in itself, where the demand for fast-fashion life cycle clashes with production traditional need for a slower production cycle. Fast Fashion – Mission Impossible? The designer is not free to choose the best option we want to better adhere to the sustainable concept.Small companies can create fashion following Still, small changes on a large-scale can create an impact. Also, small grass-root movements and designer-owned companies can create a fashion-following and perhaps a model for larger companies to inspire themselves by. This way we know Buddha Jeans can add to a positive development towards sustainability in fashion and in this case jeans and T-shirts specifically.Happiness and the positive value (personal and cultural). Human Values are new drivers in a new economy where the bottom line and now more and more needs to include the impact a product makes on the environment as well as the workers involved in the production. buddha jeans™ tell stories and designers need to design from a core set of Values to “Design Inside-Out” Design Thinking Buddha Jeans based on the concept of Design Thinking vs.just Design. Design Thinking is when designers get to take part as a central part of an organization to combine different solutions and to connect new materials, technology and processes together. The design is no longer separate but integrated into all processes of a product’s lifecycle. The designer can connect the human experience with a product and engage the consumer in new ways. Therefore “Design Thinking” is more than employing a designer to create attractive shells or “skins” for new products, but to be part of the planning and execution stages and influence manufacturing in a new sustainable way. “Designers are becoming more integrated into companies than 10-20 years ago as real decision-makers who know how to connect with technology and new products”.

Core brand values are essential guidelines

When the designer asked to design from a core of Values instead of only visual aesthetics and to design from the inside out and make the Buddha jeans tell stories we have “Design Thinking” replacing just design. Human level – engage – include – a brand with a cause. “Design Thinking” will engage the consumer on an emotional and human level. Even with a stronger “Partnership-approach”, we can create products which have the greater good as its core concept, and to engage the consumer, a product needs to be true and original. Yves Behar puts it Advertising is a price company has to pay for being un-original”.

Cradle to grave impact

As a Jeans or T-shirt travels from “Cradle to Grave”, its impact on the environment be tracked as the product leaves various “footprints” from waste-water, pesticides, chemicals, dyes and inhumane treatment or workers as well as child-labor. Pollution of jeans manufacturing is huge: Production of jeans is polluting due to various manufacturing stages, can be improved by making different choices, but the impact of the consumers after once the product has left the store is even a bigger issue. Washing and drying the Jeans and T-shirts at home accounts for 60% of the product’s total environmental “footprint” To educate the consumer is where the gain of carbon footprint saving is highest;Buddha Jeans  will make a special effort to educate and encourage the consumer to a better approach when washing and wear, such as NO wash or low-temperature washing/ rinsing, use of natural soaps, line-drying and repair/ customizing once worn in.

Wear-IN don’ Wear-OUT

Promoting the concept of “Wear-IN doesn’t Wear-OUT” is a mission for Buddha jeans. By simply using quality fabrics and good manufacturing we want to create a longer-lasting product which the consumer will love more after Wearing-IN as opposed to quickly a cheap product and discard to replace with yet another inferior product. Longer lasting – better looking. Customizing your own personal worn-IN jeans in new creative ways is a way to extend a jeans life and is a fun way to communicate your personal style. buddha Jeans wants to use customizing in its Marketing and PR as well as branding and labeling package. Denim Jeans – Hard Facts Blue Jeans accounts for a large percentage of manufacturing across the globe. Globally, the jeans industry turns over US$ (60 Billion). Large quantities of cotton, water, and chemicals used to make these jeans and satisfy the ever-growing demand for the iconic Blue Jean.

People simply buy too much stuff

In 1996 a survey revealed that in the US each woman owned 7 Jeans and 9 other items made of denim. As the market polarized into a premium segment of $150-250 jeans, a mid-market of $40 jeans and a lower end market from $21-30 the market exploded in terms of the measure of items needed to sustain the demand of cheaper low-quality jeans. In 2006 in the UK alone 81 Million Jeans sold. And demand is ever-growing! Low price jeans are pollution far more because people just buy more and more Each jean made accounts for the variation of environmental impacts as they travel through a very complex supply chain. From cotton farmers in China, US, India, and Africa who often grow cotton just to keep themselves from starvation and have no choice but to use chemicals and get ill from exposing themselves to contaminated cotton as they pick the cotton.

We have to understand that other cultures might have no options

The cotton travels to Mills and manufacturers in Turkey, Japan, US or Asia where the spinning and weaving, cutting a sewing takes place in factories employing workers to do automated tasks in noisy and often dirty conditions for a low pay. Too many steps in production make the local water system poisoned. The next step is laundering or “finishing” where jeans washed with chemicals and pumice stones to do a “worn look”. These processes create tons of waste sludge from the pumice stones and waste water containing chemicals and indigo dyes which are entering into local water systems. Organic is original. The Blue Jean was originally made from organic, unbleached cotton and sold in its original pure raw (unwashed) state to poor miners and workers who wore these pants until the literally fell apart, often using older pairs to patch up the newer ones and thus extended their jeans life further. These jeans are now being found by collectors and sold on denim-auctions around the world for astronomical prices as the demand for these authentic. Vintage jeans are exploding! Now, in the second Millennium, we have arrived at a fast-fashion-culture where denim companies pushed to create 12 deliveries a year; follow the department stores need for “newness” on the shop-floors in a never-ending cycle of seemingly similar blue jeans. What is not purchased ends up in sale bins and eventually, landfills and the new lower priced jeans drive over-consumption and a throw-away culture, where the greed for new-ness in the mass-market drowns the need for quality?

Fast fashion can be changed into a new way of thinking

Companies, designers, and buyers can now step in and try to influence this fast-fashion culture to become a more slow-paced production culture and help to adjust the principles of jeans consumption by offering better quality products with a longer lifespan and a much lower-impact lifecycle. Small companies are front-runnersSome smaller front-runner companies have developed these new sustainable systems for a few years now and succeeded in stepping up the standards for themselves and others.

NGO Solidaridad a group which supports local farmers in Peru, India, and Turkey based on a fair social plan to make sure Fair Wages, Clean Air, Clean Soil, Safe and Healthy working conditions, No child labour, exploitation or discrimination.Track a product. These pioneers are responsible for creating a new organization Made-By to track each garment “footprint” with a soft-ware-system, where each garment purchased has a code on the label, and the consumer can track each phase of the manufacturing from who picked the cotton to where the jeans get washed. This brand has taken the challenge of sustainability to its last test and has become a beacon of light for other brands attempting to produce sustainable jeans. Levi’s took this serious with Engineered line in 2006 Levi’s Engineered Jeans, European division took a similar step in 2006 and launched an organic jeans line challenging their designers and product managers to create new jeans which be sustainable throughout the supply chain. to track each garment“footprint” with a soft-ware-system, where each garment purchased has a code on the label, and the consumer can track each phase of the manufacturing from who picked the cotton to where the jeans get washed. This brand has taken the challenge of sustainability to its last test and has become a beacon of light for other brands attempting to produce sustainable jeans. Levi’s took this serious with Engineered line in 2006 Levi’s Engineered Jeans, European division took a similar step in 2006 and launched an organic jeans line challenging their designers and product managers to create new jeans which be sustainable throughout the supply chain.

Will the price defend the higher quality and environmental effect?

They used no metal rivets and replaced them with re-enforced stitching, used non-galvanized buttons, and non-chemical finishes by using Marseilles soap instead of harsh chemicals. They used Organic Cotton and natural indigo dyes. The price-tag was (not surprisingly) rather high at $250.00 retail, and only 30.000 units produced initially, as a lower priced jeans with a lesser percentage of Organic cotton launched. These two “case-studies” show how a smaller company can work to inspire and elevate the larger global companies and this way be of larger impact in what they themselves account for in economic terms. Cotton – a dirty business? Cotton has traditionally been associated with words like “Pure” and “Natural” and the world largest organization of Cotton Growers “Cotton Inc.” continues to promote it as such. The sad truth is that regular cotton growing is, in fact, a “dirty business”!

Harmful chemicals banned but still find its way

Cotton farming is using vast quantities of water and agrochemicals and pesticides in large quantities. Many harmful chemicals which are now banned from use in the EU and US is still exported to Africa and India where then a large-scale maximize the already low profits of cotton-growing. Workers become ill when picking the Cotton and sometimes residue stay in the products and end-consumers get allergic reactions. We know that the textile industry pollutes on a massive scale and the designers and manufacturer make more informed choices now than ever!

The consumer is key

Equally, consumers have a huge role to play in demanding better products and taking a social responsibility when making purchases and be ready to pay a higher retail price for a better and more sustainable product. Companies must help tell the consumers so they can move towards a sustainable future together. A 5000-year-old industry is ready for a paradigm shift Cotton growing is the most important non-food agricultural product worldwide. the US, India, and China are the largest producers of cotton, but the US and EU consume 45% of all cotton but only accounts for 13% of the total population in the world. Cotton is the base for 60% of all clothing produced and even though cotton fields only occupies 4-5% of all landmass it is responsible for 25% of all insecticides and 10% of pesticides.In fact, 1 regular T-shirt uses 150 gr. of pesticides and just 1 Kilo of raw cotton uses 20-40.000 litre of water. This development has escalated since the 1950’s when chemicals introduced to the cotton farming methods to boost cotton production. African countries know how to develop organic cotton in the right directionIn contrast, the last 15 years of organic cotton farming has moved the trend in the opposite direction. In many organic farms in Africa, a farmer only uses rainwater to irrigate the cotton plants as opposed to expensive irrigating systems.

Big brands as Nike and Zara demand more

When larger companies such as Nike and demand more organic cotton supply is now using approx. 1/3 of the world´s organic cotton to make their white t-shirts)they help improve the conditions for growing large supply of organic cotton by ensuring huge buying power and stimulating organic-growing on a world-wide scale. How many white t-shirts are needed in this world´s Organic cotton vs. conventional cotton uses NO pesticides, fertilizers, insecticides or herbicides to grow the plants.The soil is fragile and needs care. The soil is not being depleted as with traditional cotton growing, but crop-rotation used and instead. Organic soil retains water better and demands less irrigation and thus uses less water. The farmers do not get sick, and do not need to buy and expensive chemicals from international companies and paid a higher price for their organic cotton product. Even if organic soil demands a 3 year transition period, efforts being made; by companies to support “transition-cotton” to the farmers in the transition period. Standards for Eco Cotton has been varied across the globe, but new “Global Organic Textile Standards” (GOTS) been implemented since 2006 and is helping companies label their products in a better and more uniform way!

Buddha Jeans Mission

Buddha Jeans on a mission to create a sustainable Jeans and T-shirt product by employing Design Thinking with positive core values. We want to design from the inside and out, not merely create new jeans in the market  Partnership and engaged consumers sustainable fashion design. We want to create strong Partnerships and engage the Consumers in a fun and positive dialogue on Sustainability. We aim to improve the working conditions where we produce and support organic producers in all areas of production We want to work with manufacturers who have a social responsibility and high standards for their workers. We want to help change the world one jeans at a time!


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