Fast Fashion & Co-Design: Working Together

I designed and facilitated a workshop last Friday for MA Textile students at Chelsea College of Art & Design. The workshop was part of a piece I am working on for TED’S Ever & Again publication on upcycling textiles. It is an outcome of an AHRC funded research project directed by RebeccaEarley .

The workshop was titled Fast Fashion & Co-Design: working together

I used co-design to “orchestrate creative conversations” a term coined by Leadbeater (2009) to inspire collaborative concepts. We borrowed IDEO ‘s 3 core concept of design thinking to structure the workshop… It was divided into 3 sections… empathy, prototyping and storytelling.

I really enjoyed working with the students to explore these concepts and they presented some really interesting ideas and exciting solutions.

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The F Factory – LIMITED EDITION experiences

Fendi will be playing quite a role in the event this year, introducing the F Factory, a limited-edition retail project in the Miami Design District’s Moore Building (home to Zaha Hadid’s “Elastica” permanent exhibition), starting November 30 2009 and running until Christmas.

 

The shop will feature the brand’s most coveted bags, complete with Fendi’s Roman craftsmen on-site to personalize each one. But in true Basel form, art and culture will infuse the retail. Graffiti artist Andre is creating three needlepoint panels live in three 60-minute “performances” in the space, which will then be stitched into a unique Fendi bag.

You can buy your own Fendi Baguette Needlepoint Stitch Kit, designed by Silvia Venturini Fendi for $995!

Other collaborations include Moritz Waldemeyer’s collaboration with Fendi to create six custom-made Gibson guitars with Silvia Venturini Fendi, which will project lights on the walls when played by American band OK Go.

The Limited Edition Experiences program in the Miami Design District. Launched by Dacra, a real estate company that owns 80% of the 18-block area that constitutes the Miami Design District, Miami’s Limited Edition Experiences program brings together designers like Cynthia Rowley,Duncan QuinnChristopher RossMaison Martin Margiela, and Marni, all of whom engage consumers with a series of initiatives ranging from pop-up stores to limited-edition wares, in-store events, documentary screenings, and more.

Luxury fashion engaging in experiential goods and services… could this be the new Eco Luxury market of the future? I can’t wait to see how these pop up projects proceed!

For more info visit website

Make Do & Mend

Cherish Your Wardrobe (Event Report)

I attended the ‘Cherish your Wardrobe’ event at Central Saint Martins yesterday, an event hosting a range of speakers who tackle sustainability from different angles. 
Designers from Gieves and Hawkes, From Somewhere, Pachacuti and TRAID presented their work and design journey. Their ‘sustainable stories’ connected them and really animated the cause. It was inspiring that every designer began with a limitation and designed this into their process and practice.
If innovation can be inspired from limitation: how can we push the boundaries and challenge the fashion industry? Over consumption is a huge problem and how do we make sense of an industry that has somehow lost control?
The designers urged the audience and consumers to emotionally engage with their clothing, to invest in fashion that will be cherished and loved. Quality was also an important issue, for clothing to be durable and with stand the test of time it needs to be well crafted and really beautiful. But are we as consumers willing to pay more?
Over consumption was addressed and TRAID stated that the average fashion consumer buys 35 garments per year. But if we explore fast fashion culture that teenagers are buying into, the number of annual garments consumed is significantly more. They asked the audience to think about how much they consume per year… how much do you consume?
So where do the answers lie? 
The Q & A session was really animated and the audience challenged sustainable fashion from their perspective. 
    * How do you convince consumers to buy into ethical fashion if it costs more?
    * How do we influence the fashion industry at mass?
    * Are trends important? Should we be buying into trend-less fashion?
    * Is fast fashion necessarily a bad thing? It’s democratic and allows everyone to participate…
    * Do the answers lie in current sustainable business models… can we explore, reflect and expand upon?
One audience member flagged up that she loves how everyone can express themselves through fast fashion… She felt that DIY fashion puts pressure on woman to return to the sewing machine and the whole stitch and bitch concept is possibly a step backwards? 
There was also a lot of discussion about the onus being put onto the consumer… the speakers responded that is because the power of the purse has a significant impact! Do retailers supply to meet demand? The urge for Government support for local production was also stressed as an important issue… new legislation and initiatives are required to urge designers, suppliers and businesses to work towards sustainable standards.
I think consideration needs to be applied to all viewpoints… its a complicated area and there is no complete solution or answer which will resolve everything. But lots of work has already been done and this can be expanded upon… 
The stereo-type of sustainable fashion is changing, new materials and process are delivering a better aesthetic and this could enable us to work towards challenging preconceptions. 

Co-Everything

I have uploaded a snippet from my presentation last Friday… Thank you so much to everyone who came along. It was a valuable exercise and I feel it really pushed me forward. 
Thank you for the questions and feedback… it gave me lots to think about and was a great opportunity to see my research from the viewpoint of others. I have lots to consider and look forward to developing the workshops and moving forward.
I will doing a series of presentations as the research develops… I will post updates and also advertise the workshops as they come into practice.

Co-Everything: Defining Co-Design for fashion and textiles

Friday 6th November ‘09
3.30pm – 5pm
Lecture Theatre, Chelsea Millbank
 
TFRG / PhD Student Jen Ballie presents:‘Co-Everything: Defining Co-design for Fashion and Textiles’
Co-design is an all-encompassing term to describe participatory action, but how does it fit fashion? This presentation will explore a series of co-design terms and define them within a fashion context, to offer a series of solutions for designers for discussion with the audience.
If you are a undergraduate/ postgraduate student from the University of the Arts, London and have an interest in this area please come along or contact me or more info.

 

Build Your Own Dress

Studio 28 Couture offers a bespoke dress service allowing customers to co-create their own clothing via a “build your own application”.
This easy to use application allows the user to select dress shape, fit and apply colour or pattern via swatches provided, the fabric swatches change seasonally. The options presented provide lots of variations regardless of opting for either cotton or jersey fabrics.
Their service is marketed to provide affordable clothing that is unique and invites the consumer to participate in the design process. All dresses are made by hand in NYC and take approx 3 weeks to arrive.
I think it would be interesting if there were more fashion experiences presented this way. Studio 28 Couture are offering a similar solution to style|shake another bespoke dress creator website which I blogged about a while back…
A Style|Shake Creation
Style|Shake are evolving rapidly and have integrated a wedding service into their service! They offer affordable personalised fashion and their dresses retail between £35-65.
I have uploaded a youtube video of the Style|Shake process:
Both are a fantastic add on to traditional online shopping and a great way to personalise your wardrobe or even create that dress you have wanted for a long time but haven’t been able to find or don’t feel confident or skilled enough to produce independently.
But, how could these services be expanded upon to allow consumers to participate further in the design process? Can such services support upskilling or integrate upcycling into their business models?
I think it’s fantastic that both solutions are affordable and easy to use and cant wait to see how they evolve.