The linear industrial systems put in action with the Industrial Revolution are not our future as we have clearly seen their vulnerability and indifference in reference to economic and environmental stability. The throw away product and service offers have triggered a false notion that we could take resources for granted, that what defined a product or service was its price and that it was ok to buy to landfill later. The crisis is continuing to re-define and re-shape multiple industries and consumption behaviors as we are recognizing the links, the interconnected mechanism, the consequences and the opportunities.
Ever worn something once and then thrown it away? Do you get chills walking on the aisles of clothing discount stores thinking where will all this end up? Do you know what is in your clothes and do you care?
The latest hashtag #wearyourvalues is hinting on the essence of the younger generations wants and needs and it is also defining a cultural shift. Do you wear your values? Constructing the right connection between the fashion industry and what the future of humanity beholds will help to mitigate surplus production and consumption.
The fashion industry needs to heal. Sustainability is not enough – not anymore. Circular fashion models will incorporate a different mind-set of design and ownership and it all starts with design for purpose on mind. The function of the product and its relevance to satisfy the needs of the consumers need to be woven into the fabric and sewn into the garment. It is time for designers to get really creative using abundant technological advancements on processes, digital solutions, nature based raw materials. Designers and manufacturers collaborate to realize the unforeseen, the impossible and the opportunity. For a product to be produced in a circular way, it needs to be designed accordingly. On average 80% of a products’ environmental impact is determined at the design stage. This implies that textile and fashion designers should shift their focus from the aesthetics and the end-price to the user-needs, the function and the end-of-life of the product in mind.
Circular design principles
1. Design with a purpose
What is the function of the product? What is the story? Does it satisfy the customers needs?
2. Design for longevity
Design in a way that the product lasts, is considered timeless and of high quality.
3. Design for resource efficiency
Use materials that are renewable, produced in a sustainable and fair way, with minimum fossil-based energy. Look at the total impact value of production.
4. Design for biodegradability
Design garments with materials that are biodegradable or compostable within a reasonable timeframe.
5. Design for recyclability
Apply textile waste in new designs, but also consider the disassembly of the products so that it can easily be recycled.
6. Design products as a service
Propose a new life cycle where extending the use life of a products creates continuous connection of the owner and the brand.
The disconnect stems from both the linear as well as the silo thinking, the single minded frameworks, where the designers do not get to connect with the process as well as actual location where their designs transform into products. The discounted relations, the discounted products. To change the narrative, we have to acknowledge the real problems – how we have deducted the human element and the resources as we consumed more and more – not getting interested in what happens next.
During the past 6 months; I have been working together with a group of amazing minds and hearts who are set out set on a journey to establish Permaturk Foundation, Turkey`s first permaculture NGO with the mission to reach out to everyone who is willing to learn and contribute. I am intrigued by how permaculture design operates where every component, function, inputs work to create multiple benefits to the wellbeing of the total system and that this actually is a design work. Designing with nature’s wisdom to build resilience is the teaching of regenerative systems – the system constantly re-defines its operations, stakeholder co-operation, resources to see waste as a value to be captured. Every living being on the system thrives and functions as perfect co-designers for the total wellbeing and healing. As one unit regenerates, more people want to join, and we start to grow in communities where we can recover a sense of meaning.
The fashion industry is no different than a farm and it will become circular once all stakeholders join forces on a larger scale to deliver impact across the entire supply chain. This is a call for genuine partnerships – as we are interdependent whether we like it or not. We have to be mind-full, considerate, authentic as we walk our talks. Consumers need to #weartheirvalues and demand accountability, brands and manufacturers need to embark on extended producer responsibility and harness the already existing circular best practices.