M&S Launch Sustainable Fashion Lab

LCF’ s Centre for Sustainable Fashion have been working with Marks and Spencer (M&S) to create the UK’s first Sustainable Fashion Lab in the heart of East London, at the Old Truman Brewery.

M&S, Oxfam and the Centre for Sustainable Fashion are bringing together an exciting array of designers, stylists and thought-leaders who will be exploring and debating the future of a more sustainable fashion industry.

The project will give M&S customers a behind-the-scenes look into the world of 21st Century fashion and offer the opportunity to witness the stars of environmentally friendly fashion at work. Eco-conscious visitors will even be able to try their hand at designing and creating their own items through expert-led master classes.

Customers can take unwanted items of clothing to the lab and each item will be assessed for potential use and will either be reused and transformed in the lab or handed to Oxfam to resell or recycle.

The M&S Sustainable Fashion Lab, in partnership with Oxfam and LCF’s Centre for Sustainable Fashion at the Old Truman Brewery, London, is open between 10am – 5pm every day (except Mondays) from 26 April – 9 May 2012.

The events calender is packed full of workshops and talks from LCF’s Dilys Williams and Dr Kate Fletcher as well as menswear designer Christopher Raeburn and Dr Noki

I am so excited to part of this event and  will be delivering a new fashion concept titled Unpick and Remix on the 8th May. Read the full event listing here.

Service Design For Fashion: some thoughts

Sorry for the lack of blog posts - I am intensely focused on the final stages my PhD writing and refining the work developed. This process has been really valuable to enable me to deeply reflect and question what I have been trying to achieve and to determine what results have the most potential to be taken forward into a real world context. Alongside writing - I am developing some interactive fashion concepts which will be delivered through workshop sessions for the general public in the coming months.

When designing for participation its crucial to keep the end user / consumer / key stakeholder in mind - who are we designing for? Through the method of co-design I have used 'empathy' as a tool to capture stories from participants to build a narrative around their experience. Their design stories provide a real source of inspiration and also provide a sense of purpose for new design concepts to emerge. To expand upon workshops and co-design processes - the field of service design has so much to offer.

I was really inspired by the work of Lauren Currie's (Director of Snook) recent workshop with TED Textiles for their MISTRA Future Fashion Project.

Lauren's recent keynote : Craft the Secret Service challenges us to look beyond the work developed and identify how this work can be differentiated and offer additional touch points to enhance the consumer / end user experience. This requires deep consideration in a world where we already have too much mass produced stuff.

"When YOU as makers look in the mirror do you see someone that offers a service? A service that has been beautifully and brilliantly designed? A service that considers all the touchpoints? The experience of buying the output of your craft?

I don’t think many people in the craft industry do. We don’t usually think about craft as a service. I 100% believe there is a hidden service in every craft. I want us to think about how we can make that work – how we can identify that and bring it to the surface."  Lauren Currie (2011)

I think using empathy to capture insight from people has so much potential. And values also play a pivotal role  - what do you stand for and how it this represented through your work. What are the values of the people you are trying to service through your end product /service?

"People find meaning in experiences and things based on a wide variety of personal values." Chapman (2005)

The fashion experience is about aspiration - when shopping we buy to represent the person we want to project. Sometimes its purely functional - but aesthetics play a huge role in defining an image and overall look. Through the speed of fashion cycles / seasons it's easy to become lost and confused through information overload and I think well designed, curated services have the potential to offer new fashion experiences.

Within high end retail there is much more attention is dedicated to refining the experience and the consumer pays premium for this luxury. How can this area of consumer engagement be expanded upon. Does this have the potential to create more meaningful interactions with our clothing? To support sustainability a consumer's connection with their clothing is key. However, what happens when clothing no longer satisfies the consumer and loses the embedded value? Can new models be devised to support transformation / care & repair / or even exchange?

I recently visited the WAH nail bar in Topshop and think the social / experiential offer of this model is great. Its not only a nail bar - but a place to socialise with your friends, contribute to the menu, share your story on their website. They also host Zine nights in collaboration with the girls from the BLEACH bar to edit / collage images to produce mood boards for inspiration. Could a similar model be created for fashion creation in store and how would this be orchestrated?

It's an interesting space and requires deep consideration. I think there is a lot to be learned from Service Design tools / methods - thanks Lauren for sharing your work and thoughts!