Thursday, July 5, 2012

sharing some homework

I've been doing homework for my Fashion Entrepreneurship class at Canada college.   Here is one of the papers I just drafted:

Fashion Entrepreneurship Class Summer 2012
Michelle Paganini

Early last year The Observer put together a team of experts with 20 predictions of how the world will change in the next 25 years, including some predictions about fashion.  
As I read this article I was struck by one prediction of major import that seems to have come true in the last several days – scientists seem to think they have located the Higgs bosun.
The Higgs bosun, is described in a July 4th, 2012, New York Times article, Physicists Find Elusive Particle Seen as Key to Universe: “According to the Standard Model, the Higgs boson is the only manifestation of an invisible force field, a cosmic molasses that permeates space and imbues elementary particles with mass. Particles wading through the field gain heft the way a bill going through Congress attracts riders and amendments, becoming ever more ponderous.”
Hmmm… could the fashion predictions be on the mark too?  Fast forward to section 12, authored by Ms. Dilys Williams, designer and the director for sustainable fashion at the London College of Fashion.

Ms. Williams contends that we will reach beyond the traditional role of clothing - communicating our identity to each other - instead the coming decades will have “…much more emphasis on other manifestations of fashion and different ways of communicating with each other, different ways of creating a sense of belonging and of making us feel great about ourselves.”  Not certain what that meant I plowed on.

She mentions that much social interaction is shaped outside of face-to-face meetings and done online instead, for instance through avatars. She goes on to say that for actual clothing she sees a potential divide between “things that are very practical and those that are very much about display” and that perhaps those display items might be rented or borrowed rather than owned. 

I am aware of a company, bagborroworsteal, which rents out very expensive designer handbags and jewelry by the week.  This is an interesting concept because it takes clothing back to a time when articles of clothing were highly valued rather than considered disposable (as many are today).  Considering that we love and demand variety in fashion, the concept of sharing higher quality goods between multiple people is far more sustainable than individually worn cheap disposables.

Ms. Williams sees the possibility of technology / consumer demand / legislation intersecting with the result of requiring clothing tags which define the history of how the garment was sourced, made, and the water and carbon footprints.  This reminds me of the legislated requirements for including useful information about calories and nutritional requirements on food labeling, which has changed the way I buy food. 

There are certainly more resources today for diligent persons to buy “green and ethical” clothing than there have been in the past, but these buyers must make a concentrated effort to do so. 
There isn’t any mention of “reconstructed” or “up-cycled” clothing, which is where I think there is an opportunity now to bridge the current gap in that up-cycled clothing is immediately recognizable as greener than new clothing.  This is a niche where my product idea fits in, bags made from recycled jeans.

Ms. Williams seems to hint at designers’ desires to move away from disposable fashion and “work back into their designs an element of emotional content”.

I hope this also indicates a desire to move the public towards well-made long-lasting clothing.  It seems to me now is an ideal time to move in that direction as what is or is not “fashionable” is not as rigidly dictated (or accepted) as it had been for hundreds of years.  I watched the movie Independence Day, made in 1996, on this July 4th and was surprised at how many of the clothes did not look dated.

Ms. Williams wraps with “I think there's definitely a place for technology in creating a dialogue with you through your clothes.” I was a bit surprised and disappointed that there was no mention of concepts I’ve been exposed to over the last several years:
·      Up-cycled clothing.
·      Zero-waste pattern design
·      Cleaner technology (soy based dyes)
·      Advances in textile manufacturing (as our guest speaker mentioned last session)
·      Print on demand fabrics
·      The drive to recycle rather than place garments in the landfills

This means there is still opportunity to make a difference by simply spreading the word. It was already on my agenda to do so:

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