Designing for Sustainability
As we rethink our relationship with fashion, a big part involves considering the many features of a piece of clothing beyond how it looks. The future of fashion requires us to shift our thinking from wanting quantity, to valuing quality. From needing it fast, to slowing down. From buying into trends that fade, to buying garments that last. To achieve all of this, we need to rewire the way we think about fashion and to change the way we consume it.
We often think of design as narrowly concerned with form—how something looks. And yet, the definition of design accounts for more. As a verb, designing refers to, “the purpose, planning, or intention that exists or is thought to exist behind an action, fact, or material object.” So while design is concerned with form, it’s also concerned with function, with purpose, and with intention.
What is the role of design plays sustainability? The concept of sustainability is complex, and the term is frequently guilty of being overused and misunderstood. Holding all of that aside, sustainable fashion involves a single guiding principle: we must buy fewer, higher quality pieces that we can use for longer periods of time. Herein lies the power of good design to radically transform fashion.
Fast fashion: designed to toss
At its core, fast fashion is designed to be disposable. Its model of low-priced, constantly churning inventory promotes such a frenzied speed of consumption that clothing literally loses its value. We buy more to throw away more and feel less and less satisfied with all that we have.
Prosperity in fashion, is predicated upon making us comfortable, with throwing away perfectly good clothes. Given all that goes into making a piece of clothing, from the environmental cost to the human toll, the notion that fast fashion is designed to be thrown away only to be replaced with what is new is problematic enough as it is.
Designing for the extra mile
Design therefore holds tremendous power for making fashion both a more sustainable industry and a more creative one.
For us, sustainable design starts with fiber choice. Fiber choice has implications for every stage of the product lifecycle- where a piece of clothing comes from, how we use it, and where it goes when we are done with it.
We try to apply user-centered design to design clothing that you can keep for longer periods of time. This includes taking into account the length of time each piece of garment can be kept for, by making clothes more functional and more versatile.