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. 

Hacking Design

The RSA will be hosting an event exploring the notion of “design-hacking” a term used to offer alternatives to traditional design, production and partcipation. This event will be chaired byScott Burnham (author of the RSA Design & Society pamphlet on design-hacking) and invites Dr Otto von Busch “haute-couture heretic and DIY- demangogue”.

Dr Otto Von Busch
 recently completed a PhD which combined a series of projects and experiments to explore fashion activism. His approach invites participants to actively engage in the fashion system and he has created a digital platform called >self_passage< which offers open source projects and proposed solutions. This is an excellent resource for designerspractitioners, researchers and fashion DIY enthusiast’s.

Event Description
As brave designers embrace this new frontier spirit. Design jam sessions of professional and amateur in cities and festivals all over the developed world unlock a creative energy that has, in fact, been ever-present in favelas and rural villages where necessity has always been the mother of invention.

Is design-hacking merely another post-modern phase in the history of design, or does it reveal a civic ingenuity and resourcefulness that a century and a half of industrially-fed consumerism has masked?

I have just booked tickets and really look forward to attending this event. I will update a new posting to summarise the proceedings.

Book Tickets or Further Information

Fashioning Now

Fashioning Now, changing the way we make and use clothes is an exhibition and symposium at University of Technology, Sydney 28 July – 28 August 2009. The exhibit features innovative research projects from Australian and International practitioners including three members of staff and research from LCF Prof Helen Storey MBE, Dr Kate Fletcher and Jennifer Shellard.

Fashioning Now addresses all stages of the clothing lifecycle exploring the production and use of garments and addressing how and why they become discarded. The work has been submitted in an array of different mediums from garments,textile objects, time based art, photography and fashion illustration. The designers have used upcycling techniques, zero waste production, slow fashion, bespoke services, traditional craft and many more methods to present a series of sustainable solutions and poise scenarios for further research and development.

Visit the Fashioning Now website which hosts information about the event, the exhibitors and their work. Case studies are available to download and the website will be updated regularly making is a valuable resource for those with in an interest in sustainable fashion and textiles.

Gok’s Fashion Fix

Gok’s Fashion fix is back! I enjoyed the customisation theme of season one as Gok presented tips and tricks showing how to adapt high street clothing to create bespoke looks.

The new season explores new approaches taking viewers on a journey towards creating the perfect capsule wardrobe of interchangeable pieces selected to co-ordinate. This considerate approach encourages us to apply more rigour to our fashion consumption. Gok’s new mantra of buy less and wear more demonstrates that investing in clothing chosen to co-ordinate can create maximum looks with minimal pieces.

It’s a good mantra and it challenges us to question do we really wear everything in out wardrobe?

I also like the subject of high street v high fashion as Gok battles it out each week to style high street fashion to compete against high end designer fashion.

1239735600-652136-goksfash-12391013860To compete against bespoke tailoring and luxury fabric he styles and adapts high street fashion on a budget by cutting, stitching, pinning and tucking. All looks are styled and paraided on the catwalk at the end of the show with the audience voting for their favourute looks.


The show is packed with lots of tips and tricks to activly engage with fashion to maximise the efficiency of our wardrobes by creating looks to suit our body shape and styled to accommodate our daily functions. The customisation themes encourages DIY practice and with an increase in sewing machine sales there is a growing trend in make do and mend.


Visit the fashion fix website for further info

DIY designer clothing and accessories

The Guardian and The Observer have launched  DIY ethical fashionmake-your-own-bag-make-yo-011make-your-own-bag-make-yo-010: Make your own designer clothes and accessories.

They have collaborated with designers to create step-by-step “how to” guides illustrated with beautiful photographs taking the maker on a journey of marking out, cutting and sewing to create bespoke fashion and accessories.

Allowing you to make your own:

Celia Birtwell stencil print bag
Jade Jagger bracelet
Stephen Jones hat
Vivienne Westwood dress

This offers insights into the design process and allows consumers to create bespoke goods at affordable prices. The hands on approach also allows us to engage in craft and DIY at a time when we are questioning our consumption, providing an alternative to mass produced goods that don’t cost a fortune.

Trendy Workshop is co-founded by Tristan de Montebello, a french fashion platform designed to allow users to design their own clothing and share their designs with other users within the trendy workshop community forum.

I think a lot of retailers are beginning to realise the potential in mass innovation v mass production. As consumers begin to use these co-creation methods, will we see a trend toward more personalised goods and services? I think so. I also think that the clothing will be regarded with deeper consideration as the consumer has invested time and effort into the design process…
However, as the clothing is being produced  China its makes me questions some elements of the supply chain?

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall -What looks the prettiest of them all?

Image of IDEO/Prada Collaboration

Do you every spend hours deciding what to wear? I spend hours trying on clothing on only to discard it and try something else on, then something else, and something else etc… only to resolve the problem by wearing the original garment!

I have been reviewing lots of digital technology for fashion – to catalogue clothing, multiple ways to mix and match garments  my computer or iphone. All of these pieces of softwear allow me to think through “outfits” to create “looks”.
But what about interactive technology? Digital tools that allow you to move around in front of your mirror and guide you through the “dressing up” process.
I love shopping! I really do! I like to pick up pieces of clothing, try different garments on and really engage in the physical activity of trying things on. I love using digital technology to piece together garments but would never sacrifice the “real time” shopping experience in favour of using only digital technology. Therefore exploring new ways to design or programme both the tangible and intangible elements of the “fashion experience” into a system or service would really appeal to me.
I have come across two modes of practice within the fashion industry. The first is the SCHMIDT RFID smart retail system adopted by fashion retailer mi-tu, in Hong Kong. I saw them present at a symposium in Boras, Sweden last year. They had the technology set up within an exhibition space allowing visitors to try out the technology.
The way it works: all garments have RFID tags attached and there are sensors concealed within a “smart dressing mirror”. When a customer holds a garment in front of the mirror it detects the RFID tag and does all kinds of clever things. The interactive screen attached to the wall next to the mirror will display garments designed to match with your chosen piece supporting mix and matching. There is a virtual try-on simulator which can fit the garment onto the customers body shape. So the customer can try clothing on digitally!
Customers are presented with a membership card that is also detected through RFID cataloguing past and present selections and adaptable to fit the customers style preferences. The RFID system also supports the staff within the store as they know where the customers are at all times and what they are doing.
The second example is the smart dressing technology within the Prada epicentre store In NYC. Prada collaborated with IDEO (almost 5 years ago) to design interactive dressing rooms. They also used RFID technology to design an interactive dressing system. When the customer enters the dressing room and tries a garment on the magic dressing mirror will re-play a video from all angles in slow motion, allowing the customer to see themselves adorning the garment in greater detail.
They also used RFID to present a narrative about each piece of clothing – allowing the customer to see different colour ways, fabrics and even original fashion sketches prior assembly of the garment. This presents a history of the garment allowing the customer to preview the concept through to the end out put.
Both examples present exciting ways to use fashion using digital technology in real time and digital environments. Designing around customer interaction presents methods that have potential to engage users and enhance their “fashion experience” making it more memorable and meaningful.
It think caution needs to be applied when using RFID systems. We live in a world where goods and services are advertised to us everywhere! Therefore the only downfall with RFID would be using this technology to try seduce consumers into buying goods and services (all of the time!!).
Im thinking of the shopping scene in the movie “The Matrix” as an example –  Tom Cruise walks into a shopping centre where eye scanning technology detects his character’s idenity  – greeting him by name and trying to sell him something to accompany a previous purchase.
Therefore I think considerate application can reach exciting outputs – but it needs to be applied in appropriate ways.