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Optimal lifetime slowing fashion diagram Eco-Fashion Encyclopedia

Optimal lifetime is a word used to describe “the appropriate durability of a garment in its lifespan. In our modern society, most people don’t buy clothes just to cover basic human needs such as protection from cold weather or rain; parameter such as fit, comfort, look, and the colour is as important. Most clothes are thrown away long before it’s worn out because of lack of aesthetics or meaning. Designing a garment to be recycled or disassembled is not difficult, and nevertheless, pointless because the fashion industry lacks this kind of infrastructure.

Fashion is symbols and identity

Usually, we consider durability only from a physical viewpoint. Clothes are durable because of the long or heavy fabric used or strong construction. Furthermore, consumer’s motivation for spending money on fashion is not only that the clothes protect against rain, cold or hot climate. Fashion is an extension of the skin that gives you an ID, tribe acceptance or a mask to play roles. However, changed to be just any passing trend in the high-speed society, its lack of meaning and purpose and reflects the shallowness of fast consumer culture and planned product obsolescence

The goal of optimal lifetimes

Therefore, finding the optimal lifetimes of a garment requires a fundamental and wide understanding of durability; the shifting cultural trends, social behaviour, physical and emotional aspects. The goal of optimal lifetimes is to slow the flow of a resource of the fashion ecosystem. For example, introduce emotional garment durability as a design strategy. Jean is a good example of this approach, jeans made with high quality of cotton fabrics, indigo dyed gives the wearer an option to control how the jeans will look with time.

Sources and recommended reading

  • Fashion & sustainability. Design for change by Kate Fletcher & Lynda Grose. Published 2012 by Laurence King publishing

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