Sustainability in design, is it just a buzzword or an actual fashion brand performance?

How can fashion be sustainable when fashion means fast?

Sustainability is fast becoming a buzzword throughout the design and fashion industry. Fashion and Ecology are a paradox in itself, where the demand for fast-fashion lifecycle clashes with the sustainable fashion, Eco-fashion or slow-fashion, whereof sustainability in any means a slower product lifecycle. Is fast-fashion mission impossible? The designer is not free to choose the best option he wants better adhere to the sustainable concept. Small companies can create inspirations and fashion following. Still, small changes on a large-scale can create an impact. Furthermore, small grass-roots movements and designer-owned companies can create a fashion following and perhaps a model for larger companies to inspire themselves from. However, where does the sustainable product design firm go from there?

Innovations shared openly between small as well large fashion brands. Different standardization stretches and innovates alongside business in a different way: certification complemented by new mechanisms such as partnerships or sharing by more than one company, competitors, or collaborative partners. Whatever, the law of intellectual properties try to claim ownership, behind every invention or innovation is a basic science over decades, without a foundation, there would hardly be any innovation. The future innovations, research shared the best dynamics of several different environments create wider and outside the box thinking. For example, in many cases smaller, very specific niche within technology innovate and create a small market. companies invent and create a market, as it matures larger companies starts showing interest and in most cases buy up the smaller, only large companies power establish paradigm-shift within industries. When the largest company makes a move, soon all other follows.

Big brands widening niches

This is, of course, good for the total market as it becomes significantly larger, however, not always good smaller companies unless collaboration, making allies or merges. Especially when technology progress fast within a growing or brand new industry for example digital media, mobile technology, biotechnology etc. Consumer buy faster and more in a high-speed society, were innovations happen faster, products faster become obsolete, nevertheless, functioning, replaced with fashionable becomes important, a ten-year phone does the same thing even wired telephones 50 years old to communicate the same message.

Since technologies rapid evolve, innovate, products are not made to last long, since it will feel old after a short time, product obsolescence or planned product obsolescence is resource demanding and not environmental or sustainable. If companies agreed, innovated how to disassemble, reassemble, recycle, or reconstruct, a reduction in recycling, carbon footprint, and longer lasting product lifecycle is possible. In any design, the largest saving in most cases is the consumer not manufacturer. In general, a rule applies 30-40 per cent of product development, manufacturing, transport, marketing, advertising, sale etc. Vs. 60-70 per cent of the product lifecycle during consumption, calculated for example in carbon footprint, water footprint or energy use.

The first goal of a brand who strives towards an Eco and Sustainable design process

Creating Eco-brands with true Eco-products (hardly talk about sustainable products as there are hardly any unless including nature as producer) require a thinking through the whole process, not one dimension, however many with different layers. Setting a goal or standard, basic set of requirements, usually applying a set of values from one of the many providers of certifications or methods of working with sustainability (lifecycle management, cradle to cradle, biomimicry, system design, permaculture, design with nature are a few ways), NGO such as Made-By has their specific way, Blue Sign etc. Industry standards in the form of certification are assurance of conformity, not innovation. Second, sustainable design companies, the eco-labels themselves have to apply labels or logos (where, who is producing and so on) so consumers understand the conformance standard. The way of working is not new, unchanged since the end of the 1970’s, companies with credible reference points.

Most companies produce a standard product with a set of industry standards, mass-production become efficient, increased quality with less product failure, since the workers become familiar and better at every step. Producing a Levi Strauss 501 jean with the same fabric manufacturer Cone Mills with the same XX-heavy denim for the last hundreds of years prove quality never goes out of style, nevertheless, other models not produced with same fabric often have poorer quality. These companies are often pioneers regarding certification and often becomes the standard of their industry, competitors strive towards or industry-standard measured against. These brands or corporation have during a very long time created market, retailers and consumers trust, they are vulnerable as well because people expect performance, unsatisfied consumers with the high expectation of endurance, quality etc. not meet are often first signs that something is done differently. In most cases lower cost of production, nevertheless can destroy far more values than saved. For all other companies or players within the industry, these companies are extremely important and unless continue building consumer trust, they become hurt as well. Therefore, leading companies become the credible reference point for collective action, access to ability, networks, and give the consumer purchasing confidence.

An increasing number of Eco-label brands

However, as more and more companies reinvent themselves and put an Eco-label out in the marketplace or uses their own standards as a green company (over 500 companies) they move markets into mainstream simultaneously weaken the previous standard, watering out the label Eco or Green, consumers cannot see or feel the difference between the hundreds of standards or label jungle. Every company, even the strongest suffers from the reputation they once had. The once working perfect standard becomes a bottleneck. Therefore the challenge for industry-leading companies who want leadership, works harder, differentiating and repositioning to become superior, reinventing themselves or creating a brand new or next blueprint.

The consumer performance within a product lifecycle is important

Today fashion becomes trends and long lasting megatrends, global communication ability to feed meaning and power supporting directions, such as sustainability or eco-awareness becomes the new standard. Therefore, consumers with eco-awareness ask series of questions that require the brands to be prepared. Who produce the garment, do they get a decent salary, what about safety regulations, working hours, does the company benefit local communities or are they simply taking advantage of cheap labour? Do they leave a negative or positive ecological footprint behind? Positive actions such as providing clean water locally, building schools, etc.

Issues regarding quality, I pay a bit more will it make a difference? Will it lower my electricity bill? Are there any refund values or programs making it attractive to recycle? These questions require a new set of answers with an organisation that includes not only the management but that all employees understand the company and take responsibility to answer as good as the CEO. Sustainability requires the CEO to be a designer as well as a factory worker and around

The consumer has become in many ways a producer or a “prosumer“. Involvement in creation, innovation, and product development not only helps the company making better products and brand confidence, loyal consumers harder to find in a high-speed society. The consumer should not only be involved in making a product, however, disassemble, repair, remake, recycle or make it available for second-hand market, of course, a challenge today repairing complex products hard. Most products produced today not made for repairs for example electronics, so how many different types of power adapters and USB cables do you have?

Rethink everything
Rethink standards and challenge, fashion and textile industry has some of the most creative and artistic heads, nevertheless seldom or hardly drive innovation due to the rigid set of rules and restrictions, tight schedules etc. slaves of tradition rather than freedom to change. Sustainable product design seek solution and minimal most effective way, product soul the soul makes impacts in its working environment, involve partnership rather than looking at everyone as a competitor, share honestly inner secrets, weakness and company strength with partners, manufacture, transportation, communication creates a better, stronger chain of events, less randomness and failures. Processes passing standardization and measurements of the past, sometimes certificates are a hindrance, brands fight to communicate the level in which they keep the certificates superior to competitors.

The brand organization should look at the consumer as an employee

The consumer’s role as manufacturer or prosumer is important, brands and corporations that have a close, two-way dialogue and involve consumers to be a part of producing will gain the advantage in various sustainable and innovative. When including everyone in the process of making, consuming and prolong product lifecycle, the balance between product obsolescence or prolong endurance improved. The development process taken to the next level, lie behind design considerations, better prepared, innovation and product design more than one single domain, however, smaller less complex systems working in many smaller processes. Design thinking is more than just words on a paper, interconnected understood, the chain of actions solved by many, not designers or CEO alone.

Buddha Jeans Mission

Buddha jeans 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 a new jean in the market. Partnership & engaged consumers with 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 workers’ 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 change the world one Jean at a time!

  • Design thinking-For sustainable innovation the process has to start with compassionate needs. When the human needs understood, then one has to use technology who support those human needs. The organization must be tasked oriented with crossover functions. The process is not driven by one person but are a result of collaborations and shared work and thoughts.
  • This Is service design thinking- It introduces an inter-disciplinary approach to designing services; service design is a bit of a buzzword these days and has gained a lot of interest from various fields. This book, assembled to describe and illustrate the emerging field of service design, brought together using exactly the same co-creative and user-centred approaches you can read and learn about inside.
  • Planned product obsolescence in a world with finite resources is absurb

Check out the new Eco Fashion Dictionary with 1200 terms all illustrated

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