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. 





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.

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!