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. 





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.

TFRC: Perspectives on Future Sustainable Design

Last week Textile Futures Research Centre hosted an event titled 'Perspectives on Future Sustainable Design' at Central Saint Martins.

This event began with a keynote lecture from Dr Jonathan Chapman, followed by presentations from Carole Collet, Rebecca Earley and closed with a PhD finishers platform which I participated in alongside Kate Goldsworthy and Aurelie Mosse.

Dr Chapman's keynote was titled "Re-thinking Good Design in an Unsustainable Way" and started by highlighting why designers as beautifully positioned to champion sustainability. This keynote was packed with points which really made me stop and think

Good design is the ecology of doing and sustainability should be open for everyone to engage with. How can we make solutions accessible and encourage people to engage with them?

When exploring the broad terrain of sustainability confusion is good

"To be confused is to be combing things that were previously separate. To 'confuse' literally means, to 'pair together'; a melting pot of ideas, paradigms to world views." Hawkins (2011)

How can we be the change we want to see in the world and how does this all piece together? How can one individual connected to few inspire new action? Chapman went on to express that people are drawn to optimism and concrete solutions; they are not at all to pessimism, fuzziness and scare mongering.  Therefore solutions need to be pitched in an exciting, positive way to invite people to participate and become involved.

I loved the pace and tone of this lecture - it really made me reflect and think about my own work and I felt we were taken on a journey through some of the complexity surrounding sustainability. I've simplified some of the points which I related to but the full podcast will be available to download via TFRC soon.

This was followed by Becky Earley who introduced TED's TEN which is a toolbox for designers

1. Design to Minimise Waste

2. Design for Recycling / Upcycling

3. Design to Reduce Chemical Impacts

4. Design to Reduce Energy and Water Use

5. Design the Explores Clean / Better Technologies

6. Design that looks at Models from Nature & History

7. Design for Ethical Production

8. Design to Replace the Need to Consume

9. Design to Dematerialise and Develop Systems & Services

10. Design Activism

The TED team have curated the TEN into a collection of method cards which can be used to support interactive workshop sessions, seminars and consultancy packages with large fashion brands. This presentation illustrated each category with a collection of beautiful case studies to showcase how they can be adapted or built upon to inspire new working models for fashion & textile design.

This part of the seminar concluded with Carole Collet offering insight into the future of textiles. This future thinking approach took us on a journey of scientific wonder and combined beautiful images, prototypes to illustrations and possibilities which became very thought provoking. A connection to science and nature was made to identify sources of inspiration for designing textiles such a bio lace to explore new manufacturing processes which are engineered and constructed within a lab rather than an assembly line.

This was action packed and a huge thank you to the speakers and TFRC for putting this together. Some podcasts should be available for download shortly via TFRC connections and Shirahime have a fantastic write up.

I will complete another post on the PhD platform shortly.

The Makers Guild: Making Textiles @the V&A

Last Friday I was invited along to the Victoria and Albert Museum, London by the Makers' Guild to share my PhD research. The Makers' Guild is a membership organisation founded by Rachel Coldicutt and Fiddian Warman to support and promote makers from all backgrounds from coders to crafters. This session was titled 'Making Textiles' and kicked off with Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino and Alexandra Jarup introducing Curious Scarves. This project was designed in collaboration between both girls who are from different design domains - Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino is an interaction designer and entrepreneur who co-founded Tinker and within the last 12 months has established Design Swarm.Alexandra Jarup is a knitwear designer based in London who has worked on commissions for NME and North Circular.

Curious Scarves was initiated by Alexandea Deschamps-Sonsion after a period of being single - she explored the concept of designing a scarf which could signal your relationship status to others. After mocking up some digital prototypes she used social media to recruit a textile designer with the skills and expertise to support production. After some textile sampling and prototypes the finished product began to emerge. This is available to order online via their website and can also be downloaded to DIY.

I'm in love with interaction design and find it super exciting when it collides with textiles. Both speakers presented their background to illustrate how their skill sets combined throughout the design process. I found this inspiring in itself - for example to bring an idea to life you need to go out and have conversations both real time and online. I thought it was great they found each other via twitter and have established a great working relationship within this project.

I presented an updated version of Co-Everything and connected my research of co-design to my own practice. I have been in full writing up mode as my research is close to completion - therefore this was a great opportunity to present my work to capture some feedback. I am currently reflecting upon my co-design projects to deliver a series of interactive fashion packages that will enable fashion consumers to participate within the design process.

There is a huge shift moving beyond direct consumption towards more experiential fashion services and I am really interested as to how this could offer a new opportunity space for fashion and textile designers. After my presentation we discussed how new business models might emerge and if the role of the professional designer begins to change to that of facilitator / and design becomes more democratised - what's the added value and how can we generated an income beyond designing stuff and evolving new services?

The session closed with Textile Futures MA graduate Elena Corchero  founder/ director of Lost Values (2008 - present). This company combines craft and new technology to inspire future design concepts which are fun and playful with consideration to environmental issues. Elena's main source of inspiration is near forgotten things - from traditions, cultures, materials and skills.

She brought along some work to showcase and invited the audience to take a photograph of her reflective knitwear. The results lit up similar to her product images above - I loved the interactive element of her presentation. It really engaged everyone and was a fun way to demonstrate the concepts.

A huge thank you to the Makers Guild for inviting me along! I really enjoyed meeting the other speakers and it attracted a lovely mixed crowd. I will definitely be following this community and attending future events. The next lined up is:

2 March: The Economic and Social Value of Making: What is the impact of maker culture on the wider economy? A discussion between policy and funding experts.

Visit their website for future updated and booking can be confirmed via the V&A website.