Do Better Things: Do Things Better

Dr Jen Ballie and Mark Shayler were invited by Zero Waste Scotland (ZWS) and the Scottish Textile and Leather Association (STLA) to design an interactive session within an event titled ‘Do Better Things: Do Things Better’.

As designers and consumers alike, we can invest our energy, efforts and expertise into designing and doing good things. But will these actions have a true and meaningful impact within a world already proliferated with too much stuff? A recent BBC documentary titled ‘Hugh’s War on Waste’ highlighted that in the UK alone, we are disposing of seven tonnes of textile waste, every five minutes.

Within many design disciplines there has over the last few decades been a lot of discussion about dematerialised consumption patterns; about shifting the focus in design from material possessions to accessibility and services. But why are there so few examples of organised service systems within fashion or textiles?

Mark and Jen were challenged to deliver a hands-on, interactive workshop to re-imagine sustainability for textile and fashion businesses.

Mark Shayler from This is Ape drew upon his notable expertise of working with big brands to share insights into how we might go about doing more, with less, to develop sustainable brand stories. He talked about the value of truly believing in what you do and mindfully shaped the morning session to provoke new thinking.

During the afternoon, Jen expanded upon her PhD research to introduce service design as an approach for fashion and textiles. Within service design, touch points are used to craft a customer journey. The group explored what fashion and textile touch points could be and how they might be tailored to design alternative fashion experiences. The session concluded with everyone sharing a recipe card, a how-to guide for crafting a touch point, and these will be combined to curate the first chapter of an interactive toolkit.

As designers, every decision we make has a profound impact on people and the environment and we need to better understand how garments live their lives with people.

 

Keywords: sustainability, service design, business models, innovation toolkits, design strategy

Written for Textile Environment Design (TED) Blog by Dr Jen Ballie (November, 2015)

The Future of Fashion Retail: Love, Lease, Lend

This year, the Edinburgh International Fashion Festival and Zero Waste Scotland worked in partnership, focusing on the issues of sustainability to help engage businesses and consumers with making fashion more ethical.  I was invited to be a panelist within an event titled 'The Future of Fashion: Love, lease, lend' at the Dovecot Studios, Edinburgh.

This particular session expanded upon Zero Waste Scotland's work aligned to the Circular Economy - where materials are kept in productive use for as long as possible, moving away from our current linear approaches to design, production and consumption. 

The panel was chaired by Mark Shayler, sustainable design consultant and co-founder of Howies Do Lectures. Mark highlighted that future of retail will change significantly, and he anticipates design will be led by China with production based in Africa. The internet has had a huge impact on retail and we need to re-think our current approach to design, production and manufacture. High street stores are frequently closing, so what does the future hold for our local high streets? From the perspective of the circular economy, what can we do in Scotland? 

Mark went on to share a personal challenge of giving up fashion consumption for one year and highlighted that he found it a lot less challenging than he had originally anticipated. Prof Becky Earley has set herself a similar challenge this year #nonewclothes2015 and blogs about this frequently. 

The session opened with a presentation from Bert Van Son, founder of MUD Jeans one of the only fashion brands currently adopting a circular economy business model. Bert explained the philosophy behind the brand and their commitment to identifying a use for all waste within their supply chain. They have also use social media to capture stories from their customers using #mudstory. 

Edinburgh International Fashion Festival 2015

This was followed by a presentation from Claudia Domokos, co-founder of Rentez-Vous a luxury fashion leasing service with the tag line 'live fashion, don't own it'. Their online store has successfully launched in beta and they are capturing insights from customers, alongside building their portfolio of stock.

Edinburgh International Fashion Festival

Following these presentations, I joined Louise McGregor, Head of Circular Economy at Zero Waste Scotland and Michelle MacLeod, Marketing Manager at Ocean Terminal Shopping Centre.

Edinburgh International Fashion Festival 2015

Zero Waste Scotland are playing a key role in supporting SME's to adopt circular economy concepts and included a Pop Up exhibition within the event to demonstrated new business models. Michelle highlighted how Ocean Terminal are beginning to experiment with new retail models by launching a micro-manufacturing makerspace titled 'the Facility Project' with a shop and studio capable of housing up to 23 creators and small businesses. The Facility will provide these creators with the space to work, access to a increasing number of textiles finishing equipment and the ability to sell directly to the public.

There was a really positive atmosphere within the event and people were incredibly responsive to these new models and inquisitive to find out more. Following the panel discussion, people began to share stories of trekking charity shops, to gifting and repairing garments with their friends, demonstrating a desire to share and learn new skills.

The BBC also produced a lovely stand along feature titled 'Recycling Drives Edinburgh Fashion Festival' view here.

Sometimes it is the small changes that make a big difference. As designers, business owners, academics and consumers alike - we all need to be advocates of a more mindful and ethical approach to consumption. We need to practice what we preach, and it is only by challenging ourselves to become more resourceful, innovative and experimental with our own wardrobes that we can we truly learn. As consumers, we have the power to shift the narrative around fashion design, retail and consumption. 

 

 

 

 

Fashion Revolution Day - Friday 24th April 2015

 

A few weeks ago on Friday 24th April 2015, I joined the Fashion Revolution! Thousands of people took to the Internet and to the streets to challenge the way the fashion industry currently works and ask #whomademyclothes. This year marked the second anniversary of the Rana Plaza disaster in Dhaka, Bangladesh, which killed 1133, and injured over 2500 people.

The Fashion Revolution was initiated in 2013 by Carry Somers, Orsola DeCastro and Jocelyn Whipple , with the support of a global advisory committee of academics, designers and businesses leaders exploring sustainable fashion and textile design.

"WE BELIEVE IN FASHION – AN INDUSTRY WHICH VALUES PEOPLE, THE ENVIRONMENT, CREATIVITY AND PROFITS IN EQUAL MEASURE, AND IT’S EVERYONE’S RESPONSIBILITY TO ENSURE THAT THIS HAPPENS." Fashion Revolution, 2015.

This year, I volunteered to be regional co-ordinator for Scotland, alongside Niki Taylor and Annalisa SimonellaWe hosted a Pop Up exhibition titled “Who Made My Clothes?” at the Lighthouse, in Glasgow. This exhibit showcased sixteen reclaimed garments, the average amount disposed of annually  per person (WRAP, 2013). Our aim was to encourage cherishability by demonstrating a rich mix of techniques for refashioning items within our own existing wardrobes. The garments showcased included work from Prof Becky Earley, Shirley McLaughlan, 

We also hosted a master class demonstrating how to give back life to old clothes by successful costume designer and sewing teacher Iona Barker. Visitors were invited to ask well known brands #whomademyclothes by sharing a selfie using social media via our Photo Booth that will include a ‘Fashion Tardis’ for styling and transforming your outfit ensemble before staring in your own photo shoot. During the afternoon we initiated a Fash Mob on Glasgow’s busy high street. As we marched through the high street, curious passers-by asked us questions. 

During the evening we hosted a film vert, curated by Annalisa.

I would also like to say thank you to:

  • Ian Elder, Director at the Lighthouse, Glasgow and his wonderful team who provided tremendous support.
  • Jenny Fraser , at the Glasgow School of Art, Glasgow for hosting the  'Film Vert' in the evening. 
  • Laura Kissel the Director of Cotton Road who allowed us to host a free screening of the movie.

Transformational Thinking and Practice Field Day Publication

Check out the Centre for Sustainable Fashion's Transformational Thinking Field Day Publication online

An interactive menu of talks, design challenges and workshops were on offer for an eclectic mix of delegates to engage. I delivered my DRESS UP/DOWNload Design Intervention an open source fashion concept which explored democratized innovation through participation.

A meditation guru delivered some tasks encouraging us to explore mindfulness followed by a talk from Nina Baldwin about integrating this within the ciriculum. A talk from Director Dilys Williams presented an overview their journey establishing and building the Centre of Sustainable Fashion with an overview of their big ambition and ethos for moving forward. Dr Kate Fletcher designed and delivered an interactive session which encouraged us to step outside to forage for artefacts which were then collected and showcased to represent small gestures which we often disregard. Prof Helen Storey delivered a twitter salon and Prof Sandy black delivered a presentation on this history of knitting while we knitted! Drinks to Dye for were created within an interactive workshop.

The open source publication shares further activities and visual references which capture the essence of the day.

This day was very much a celebration of their achievements and members shared their practice and research in an interactive format to enable others to engage. I found this event really inspirational and left feeling re-energised with so many ideas for re-considering sustainability.

M&S Shwop Lab: Unpick and Remix

Last Month i was invited to design and deliver a workshop package for Marks and Spencer's new Shwopping campaign. An interactive fashion lab was curated hosting a series of events ranging from Debates, Workshops and Design Challenges.

I attended a debated between Dr Kate Fletcher (Designer / Reader in Sustainable Fashion, London College of Fashion) and Dr Mike Barry (Marks and Spencer). This provocative conversation provided a deep insight into the complexity surrounding sustainable fashion from two very different perspectives.

This debate addressed the word or even term 'Sustainability' and challenged what it actually means to be sustainable for both a consumer and a brand. Kate identified the importance of language and referenced the word 'Flourish' to compose a new narrative for sustainability and claimed she preferred to define consumers as citizens. The people behind the products are really important in inspiring and initiating change within consumer culture.

I delivered my co-creation workshop on the final day of the exhibition and facilitated with the support of two brilliant Ma Fashion and the Environment Course at London College of Fashion - Hannah van Grimbergen and Bianca Thoyer Rozat.

The concept was titled Unpick and Remix and enabled participants to curate their own fashion looks to develop new concepts. This was achieved with the support of social media, we used pin interest to co-develop a collection of online mood boards. These were expanded upon to unpick discarded clothing and remix new looks using a range of fashion de/reconstruction methods.

This was experimental and defined through a re-actionary approach. The public participants were central the process and played a pivotal role in influencing the final outcomes. I hope to adapt this concept some more through future workshops. The interplay between curation and co-creation is something social media has the potential to support the exchange of skills on a much larger scale.

A big thank you to Marks and Spencer and the Centre for Sustainable Fashion for inviting me to be involved. Also thanks to the public participants who came along, I enjoyed meeting and working with you on the day.