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)

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.

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!