A New Decade of Possibilities
2020 might as well be the tipping point for many industries, citizens as technology, design and human beings collaborate to redefine governance, creativity, manufacturing, and consumption in the times of Anthropocene. An era that defines Earth`s most recent geological time period as human influenced based on overwhelming global evidence that atmospheric, geological, hydrologic, biospheric and other earth system processes are being altered by humans. Scientists are still discussing about the exact time, place and the incidents that initiated this era however we are already living the impact of our own doing, but it does really matter when this period started as we are already onboard.
I find myself going back to thinking a lot about the movie Avatar; released in 2007 and had a box office revenue of 2,79billion dollars. Tree of Souls in Avatar represents the closest connection to the guiding force of Pandora and the Na`vi. This force (Eywa) keeps the whole Pandora world in equilibrium. The huge biological internet of nature where trees represent servers is where all the Na`vi upload and retrieve memories, information and IP. The roots of the trees are capable of extending above the ground and connecting to the nervous system of any living thing, even humans. Have you not been in a natural setting, a forest, laying on the surface of the ocean like a starfish or merely gazing at the starts and felt very connected, a tiny piece of dust or a grain of sand and yet meaningful and as a part of it all? The coming decade will lay out a more interconnected global landscape where awareness around existential problems are recognized, as digital communities gain governance through technologies such as blockchain and as industries realize that growth strategies are not providing added value if they cannot provide for ecological and social stakeholders.
Scientists, designers and artists are working in teams rather than in silos to make user friendly, informative, tech driven, accessible change happen globally, and this is altering the way we work and live. I have to say that I am an optimist at heart and believe in the possibility that collective human power and creativity can access. I will bet on the power of communities and a no-growth based expansion for businesses for the coming year and I now understand much better that this has been my real training in the denim industry for the past three decades.
The interconnectedness of our humanity to nature and to each other, beyond time has been the driving force and the foundation for the projects I have co-created and participated in during my upbringing in the fashion industry. I am almost thrilled with joy as the time extends ahead of us is full of possibilities to realize as we realize more and more how little we actually know. These are not my personal predictions but rather the zone where I engage, integrate and interact.
1.Circular business models will gain momentum. The businesses will shift from being pipeline and linear ( where product and process are of importance) to be more platform and service based. The resource control will transform into resource orchestration. Internal optimization will become replaced by external interaction. The companies will transform value by facilitating interactions between the stakeholders as well as the consumers. The consumer focus will shift to an ecosystem value. Platforms will seek to maximize the total value of an expanding ecosystem in a circular, feedback driven process. The circular business model is actually more than just engaging in Cradle to Cradle or biodegradable products. As the linear or the pipeline business models get replaced by platforms, network expansion and the growth value is no longer defined by the traditional economies of scale where the higher volume production and sales provide competitive advantage. The great scale is defined with the network expansion where there are more participants on the platform. Greater scale generates more value and attracts more participants. The circular business models will require an updated leadership and mindset. The fashion industry will see platform thinking expansion as brands and retailers turn to their supply chain for collaboration and to deliver the value essence of the products they are offering. Circular business design will trigger the use of technology, the search for regenerative raw materials, contribution of multiple disciplines and a sense of unity.
2.Hear this: Magic is real, and we are all connected. I have read through “Real Magic” by Dean Radin, PhD with pure excitement and feeling like a kid in a candy store. Mr. Radin, who is a scientist, talks about the many dimensions of magic which I came to encounter as my gut feel, the intuitive calling, unattended coincidences that led me to places or have paved the path for me to meet many friends could be explained by scientific reasoning. Along the many interesting and eye-opening sections of the book, the part on “ A disturbance in the Force” helped me relate to way that sustainable production and consumption may change the world. Radin uses a scene from Star Wars where Obi-Wan Kenobi says almost in pain “ I feel a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.” This happened as evil Galactic Empire used Death Star weapon to blow up an inhabited planet. The Force was described by Obi-Wan as “an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us; it binds the galaxy together” The Greta Effect is creating a global force field which might impact the way that we are living if we choose to on board and this is across countries, business. Consumers can choose where to spend their money and as transparency is enabled through technology and becomes more in demand; manufacturing practices and consumption behaviour will transform.
3.Artificial Intelligence based applications and solutions will accelerate in the coming decade and Ray Kurtzweil of Singularity University predicts that AI will gain presence in almost all everyday life by 2029 reaching human level brain power. Ray Kurtzweil says that the algorithms and the solutions already exist to bring AI to human level but the language to communicate does not exist yet. The present AI is actually talking to humans, but we do not yet know what it is saying. Using data fashion retail will harness the use of consumer data to build better, targeted, tailored, value-added, bespoke products for customers. The manufacturers will also need seamless integration into using consumer as well as B2B data to become more efficient and be closer to the market to serve on demand consumption which again will need to be customized. Chip Bergh CEO of Levis has said ( November 2019) that sizes will go out of the window in 10 years and that anyone could do their own body scan on a camera. MySizeID is a mobile enabled measurement company working on bringing the size problem to an end and the technology is available internationally. MySizeID uses measurements to create a unique size ID and the then provides size recommendations at certain retailers based on the specific body. %80 of the returns in fashion are based on size. H&M is introducing custom-fit jeans through its Weekday division using an algorithm which converts the body scan into a paper pattern, and it then produces jeans as unique items, returning them to customers in about 10 days. We have seen similar analog models developed in the last decade and Earnest Sewn was one of the first ones to open up its customized jeans store in the Meatpacking District in NYC in 2005. The experience was educational, informative as well as accommodating. Getting involved in the making of your own pair of jeans imprinted the artisan experience and fast forward to 2020, the digital interaction will present a digital experience of scale, maybe not the artisan-feel, but still an interaction with design to fit the tailored needs. Mass customization will become a part of the supply chain offer and this will require further partnerships and understanding in the supply chain.
4.Being ecological cannot be only factual. This is exactly where sustainability gets a little fuzzy and especially in the fashion industry where there are no universal standards as well as the concerns about greenwashing. I am not saying to go fact free, but as we are bombarded with information and facts, we feel alienated and tend to hide our heads in the sand instead of acting. The digital realism has made it possible to present the sense of being whatever we like to be without really being in the field. I am referring to the likes, theories, the pretty images, the brief moments where the camera clicks at the most convenient Instagram friendly corner rather than actually giving the attention and the insight into living the moment. Being ecological will require us to acknowledge that we are a part of the tribe; the global tribe; the global citizen. Being ecological will require more emotional intelligence, the prerequisite of experiencing being in our bodies and being with nature and not just thinking about or reading and talking about the factoids. Being ecological is caring and we as humans are symbiotic in interaction with other symbiotic beings.
"She said all energy is only borrowed, and one day you have to give it back."
I want to go back to Avatar as Jake (referring to Neytiri) says “She said all energy is only borrowed, one day you have to give it back.” Jake is recounting what Neytiri has told him about the Na'vi way of life. This AVATAR movie quote sums up how different the view of the Na'vi is from that of the humans, who only wish to take from the environment rather than care for it and maybe just maybe with all the technology possible as well as an awareness around our collective power we will choose to make a difference.