Category Archives: Garment Disposal

Can Design Change Behaviour?

This question was answered recently by Banny Banerjee, Director of the Stanford Design Program and Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering.  In short, his answer is YES!

“Our behavior is deeply influenced by the norms and frameworks that surround us and design can be used to create systems and experiences that work with an underlying understanding of human behavior and cause people to fall into entirely new patterns of behavior,” says Banerjee, an associate professor of mechanical engineering.

Because behavior can be influenced—not just observed—it provides an important opportunity for tackling complex challenges such as sustainability.

“That opportunity is perhaps best addressed with design. Uniquely trained to simultaneously consider human factors, technology and business factors, designers can help identify a behavioral goal (e.g. reduce energy use) and then work from that to employ the best systems, ideas, experiences, and technologies to enable alternate realities in the future.”

Banerjee’s work, which is related to energy consumption in the home, has shown that designers should focus on ways to appeal to the ‘irrational‘ side of consumers.  That’s the side that chooses to buy the designer t-shirt even though a generic brand t-shirt of equal quality is available at a much lower price.  According to ethnographic research,

“…consumers are not swayed to adopt solar power based on a rational comparison of dollars per watt, as much as on whether their neighbors have taken the plunge. Also, people do not have an intuitive understanding of energy like they do with time and money. It does not appear to be enough to flatly inform people of the facts of their energy usage. Instead emotional motivation, habits, and tiny choices that people make in their day-to-day lives without necessarily being conscious of them are important factors in how a crucial resource such as energy gets used.”

Can these ideas be applied to fashion design?  Absolutely!  Think of the previous passage like this:

…consumers are not swayed to adopt solar power ethical fashion based on a rational comparison of dollars per watt unit, as much as on whether their neighbors have taken the plunge. Also, people do not have an intuitive understanding of energy the impact of their consumption decisions like they do with time and money. It does not appear to be enough to flatly inform people of the facts of their energy usage the impact of their consumption decisions. Instead emotional motivation, habits, and tiny choices that people make in their day-to-day lives without necessarily being conscious of them are important factors in how a crucial resource such as energy gets used consumption decisions favour sustainability.

The current fashion industry is largely driven by a ‘fast-fashion’ trend.  A popular arguments is that the consumer is driving this trend and companies that do not comply will fail miserably.  The problem with this argument is that it assumes that the consumer is at the bottom of a pyramid of responsibility and the designer is, of course, at the top simply creating products needed craved by consumers.  But, if designers, through their actions (read: designs), can change behaviour, responsibility is suddenly shared between parties involved in the system (including brands).

In a conversation with Mary Hanlon, she brought up the idea of applying design concepts to address sustainability.  Using end-user experience as a focus, Mary made the following point:

“When we consider that the impact of a garment on the user side of the life-cycle is often larger than on the production side, it becomes clear that the consumer experience cannot be ignored.  We need to change the norms and frameworks that surround consumers to create systems that move toward sustainability.  If fashion designers are able to change consumer perception through aesthetic based frameworks, they have the responsibility to change behaviour.”

Changes in consumer behavior can be done through a variety of strategies including the choice of materials and effective labelling of care requirements which was discussed before on SA.  Some other strategies can be found here.  Perhaps the most recent example is that of Brazilian company Tristar Jeans which advocates freezing your jeans instead of washing them which is only necessary to remove stains.  Also, their jeans are reversible allowing longer wear time between washes.  For more on Tristar click here.

Green Carpet Challenge

We can’t celebrate good intentions, we have to celebrate beauty(Dilys Williams, London College of Fashion)

We’ve really been enjoying watching Mr. Darcy actor Colin Firth’s wife Livia Firth challenge herself to take on ethical fashion this award season. Livia is no stranger to ethical style, however, considering she’s the owner of ethical shop Eco Age in London.

She’s been blogging about the Green Carpet Challenge over at Vogue UK, so that we can follow along with her on this incredible journey. Along the way, she’s been interviewing ethical fashion gurus like London College of Fashion Dilys Williams and ethical designer Christopher Raeburn.

Be sure to follow her as she takes on this challenge!

Vanished Bodies and Eternal Presence, Monumenta 2010

If you find yourself in Paris sometime before February 21st, make sure to check out Monumenta 2010: Christian Boltanski’s Personnes at the Grand Palais.

In Personnes, Boltanski asserts that relics have become “vestiges of anonymous people, traces of strangers, with which it seems to be a question of communicating.” He cites Rolland Barthes, in the context of photography to support this question: ““A photo is literally an emanation from the referent. From a real body which was there, proceed radiations which ultimately touch me, who am here; the duration of the transmission is insignificant; the photograph of the missing being will touch me like the delayed rays of a star.” What “happens” therefore escapes any rational reduction: it is a matter of structuring the vanished body and eternal presence around a certain idea of the exhibition, a way of making manifest which opens the door to emotion.”

I stumbled upon this exhibit via Style Bubble. Here is what fashion blogger Susie Bubble had to say: “I’m simultaneously bemused and slightly saddened though that the next time I’m in the Grand Palais in March, all of this will be gone and in its place will be whatever runway setup Chanel decides upon for their A/W 10-11 show…”

Allan Chochinov at Core77 is often quoted for this statement: “Designers think they are in the artifact business, but they’re not; they’re in the consequence business.” (You can read more on responsible design in Chochinov’s Manifesto, found in the SA Reading section.) Although for me, obviously subjective in the SA context, Personnes reminds me of both artifact and consequence. It has me asking “What is the relationship between artifact and consequence in Boltanski’s work?” Seen through the lens of social, cultural and environmental responsibility, the exhibit is perhaps even more striking—more appalling (again, subjectively speaking). So I’m interested readers, what are your thoughts?

Image Source: Flickr via Style Bubble


“As part of SHIFT from 29 January – 1 February the Centre for Sustainable Fashion will present:

The first ever graduate showcase from London College of Fashion’s MA Fashion & the Environment
The work on display will explore a range of opportunities and design challenges where ingenuity and resourcefulness are inspired through living within nature’s limits, putting human wellbeing at the heart of creativity and questioning the current status quo.
On Monday 1 February we are inviting industry representatives, press and prospective students to hear presentations from the students on their work. Contact us if you would like to attend.
More on MA Fashion & the Environment

Highlights from Fashioning the Future 2009 – The international student awards for sustainability in fashion
Fashioning the Future brings together a global community of creative thinkers and doers, designers, innovators and entrepreneurs with many different skills, locations and perspectives on the many facets of fashion. The winners of the 2009 awards will be profiled alongside information on how to apply for the 2010 awards.
More on Fashioning the Future

Local Wisdom by Kate Fletcher
Local Wisdom seeks to recognise and honour sustainability activities in fashion that exist at the level of the user. This project captures and celebrates personal stories relating to garments, giving fashion a platform to flourish and inspire. Reader in Sustainable Fashion Kate Fletcher will be leading a live session on 30 January from 12.00 – 17.00 where members of the public are invited to share the story of their clothes with the project team and be photographed wearing them.
More on Local Wisdom” (CSF)

Title: SHIFT
Location: London
Link out: Click here

Friday 29 January 17.00 – 22.30
Saturday 30 January 12.00 – 22.30
Sunday 31 January 12.00 – 22.30
Monday 1 February 12.00 – 17.00

Start Date: 2010-01-29
End Date: 2010-02-01

Community News

Urgent Appeal: Haiti Earthquake

Red Cross: Canada, United States, United Kingdom

The United Nations: United Nations Foundation, UNHCR: The UN Refugee Agency, World Food Programme (WFP), UNICEF

If you a business, please visit the United Nations-Business website, Partnering for a Better World, and learn more about what your organization can do to offer much needed humanitarian relief and assistance both in Haiti and elsewhere.

Both Gildan and Hanesbrands were quick to pacify their shareholders this week, announcing how they would handle the situation. How will the earthquake impact workers? Here is what Michael Flanagan at Clothesource had to say:

“It’s impossible to know with any certainty how much devastation the recent earthquake has caused in Haiti. But, just a day after the quake hit, two unspoken tragedies are revealing themselves.

The first lies in our industry’s response. Clients of the country’s 25 garment factories have first to reassure the market that the earthquake is not going to damage buyers’ own commercial viability. Issuing statements about moving production to Asia or the Dominican Republic sounds harsh and unfeeling: but companies making these statements have no real alternative: US stock market rules require them to inform shareholders of important events that affect them – and if it’s known you’ve got or use a factory in Haiti, you really have to tell the market what you’re doing about the fact that goods can’t move in or out.

The tragedy isn’t that Hanesbrands and Gildan have announced they’re moving production so quickly: it’s what’s going to happen to the workers.” (Michael Flanagan, Clothesource)

Click here to read the full article, “Haiti’s unspoken tragedies”. 

Now, here is a small roundup of some of the stories, headlines, and updates you may be interested in from in and around the community of socially responsible fashion design.

Articles of interest:

Now deluding a new group. This decades new Shangri-La myth

Colin Firth’s wife Livia’s green carpet challenge

Which is better for the environment, fake fur or real fur?

Green Q&A: How eco-friendly is the fashion industry?

Why We Need a Cultural Revolution in Consumption

H and M Says It Will No Longer Destroy Unworn Garments

Core 77

Absence makes for appreciation: A theatre director reflects on design

“Design Thinking” Today


Does the Art of Craft and Handmade Matter in Fashion?

16 Eco-Fashion Predictions for 2010


Fashion New York 2020 to Bolster Disposable Buying Cycle?

Where New York’s Unsold Clothing Is Suppose To Go

Centre for Sustainable Fashion

4 Minute Wonder

The Centre for Sustainable Fashion’s Nina Stevenson, in response to the video below: “Seriously, how can we not be asking questions about the production conditions of a £4 pair of badly fitting jeans?” She recommends that DIY’ers everywhere use this video as a prompt to alter garments they already have, and not to purchase new ones.  

In SA news, we have (at last) jumped on the Facebook bandwagon. Click here to become a fan!

EcoChic Geneva


The United Nations has declared 2010 the International Year of Biodiversity and the International Year for the Rapprochement of Cultures.

UN Secretary General Welcome Message for the 2010 International Year of Biodiversity from CBD on Vimeo.

EcoChic Geneva is an event that strives to redefine both sustainability and fashion in this context:

Title: EcoChic Geneva
Location: Geneva, Switzerland
Link out: Click here

As the 2009 International Year for Natural Fibres draws to a close and the focus begins to shift to 2010, the International Year of Biodiversity, Green2greener is delighted to announce its collaboration with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) on a series of activities that will highlight the importance of natural fibres and biodiversity in sustainable development strategies.

EcoChic Geneva will take place on January 20-21, 2010 at the Palais des Nations, the UN headquarters in Geneva. The event will commence with a 1.5 day seminar which will look at “Redefining Sustainability in the International Agenda” from the perspective of the fashion and cosmetics industries.

[EcoChic Fashions Documentary, Hong Kong 2008]

The seminar will be followed by a high-profile gala evening on Thursday 21 January. Highlights include the launch of a Sustainable Fashion Exhibition and dramatic EcoChic Fashion Show featuring sustainable and ethical ready-to-wear and couture looks by fashion designers from around the globe. The Exhibition will be subsequently opened to the public free of charge until February 4, 2010.

This series of activities will bring together senior representatives from the private sector with key decision-makers from government, civil society and other public sector organisations. For more information or to find out how you can get involved, please contact us at” (EcoChic Geneva)

Start Date: 2010-01-20
End Date: 2010-01-21

Planet Textiles

“We are delighted to announce the launch of Planet Textiles, a new international event jointly organised by Ecotextile News, Messe Frankfurt and the Society of Dyers and Colourists. Dedicated to improving the environmental and social impact of the global textile and clothing supply chain, it is supported by leading industry organisations and international clothing retailers.

What makes Planet Textiles unique? Planet Textiles runs alongside Interstoff Asia Essential (17–19 March 2010), the leading trade show for eco-textiles and functional fabrics in Asia. Delegates can listen to the presentations, join in the discussion, and see round 200 textile manufacturers, most of them offering ‘real’ sustainable textiles. No other sustainability conference offers that.

Highlights include:

-Keynote presentations about corporate social responsibility and sustainability
-Case studies from manufacturers and retailers – what are the realities of implementing sustainability?
-Followed by a networking reception – your chance to meet the other delegates

Planet Textiles offers:

-Fantastic line-up of speakers who will give real examples of their work
-Opportunity to learn from best practice and pick up practical advice
-Focus on the positive developments and changes
-Great networking and a platform for the exchange of ideas” (Planet Textiles)

Below is an update from EcoTextile News, one of the event’s joint organizers:

Executives from Wal-Mart, KIK and IKEA have confirmed that they will speak at the new Planet Textiles event on sustainability which will take place at Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre in March 2010.

Eleanor Wright, Wal-Mart, raw materials director, based in Shenzen, China has agreed to update textile manufacturers at the event about the latest on the US retail giant’s sustainability index. Petra Katzenberger, Head of CSR at KIK, Germany’s largest discounter will reveal a new carbon footprinting initiative and IKEA’s Anurag Priyadarshi will share the results of an IKEA study on the environmental impact of pigment versus reactive dyes during textile production.

Other confirmed speakers include Simon Weston of Hong Kong-based Fountain Set who will talk about the company’s latest regenerated cotton project which will see the first commercially available products launched by retail partners in March 2010.

Phil Patterson, Chairman, of the RITE Group (Reducing the Impact of Textiles on the Environment) will speak about how the big brands in Europe and the States can engage more effectively with textile manufacturers in Asia.

Pat Nie Woo from the Sustainable Fashion Business Consortium – a group of leading Hong Kong-based textile manufacturers will look at current and future challenges to implementing sustainable change in the textile sector – and ask what are the realities?

Other leading brands are yet to finally confirm their participation in what is sure to be a ground-breaking, new event on eco-textiles in the Hong Kong/China region. (EcoTextile News)

Title: Planet Textiles
Location: Hong Kong
Link out: Click here
Date: 2010-03-18

Ethical Fashion Symposium, Scotland

Title: Ethical Fashion Symposium, Scotland
Location: Scotland
Link out: Click here

Edinburgh College of Art, in collaboration with Fashioning an Ethical Industry and the Scottish Academy, are hosting a two day symposium for students and tutors on fashion related courses in Scotland on ethics in fashion.

Day 1
The fashion cycle: Interactive introduction to the symposium and to the social and environmental issues in the fashion industry
Liz Parker, Fashioning an Ethical Industry

Communicating sustainability
Helen Spoor from sustainability communications company Futerra.

Sustainable Design
Jessica Hemmings, Associate Director, Centre for Visual & Cultural Studies

Bringing responsiblity into fashion business
Speaker to be confirmed

Fashion Future: What can you do at university, as consumers and once in business?
Liz Parker, Fashioning an Ethical IndustrySpeakers include

Day 2 – putting ideas into practice
Students and tutors will work together in multi-disciplinary, multi-university teams on the brief: ‘Universities and colleges in Scotland are working together to promote ethics and sustainability in fashion. In teams, develop a product, idea or strategy for engaging students with fashion ethics and sustainability’.

Students will present their work in a format of their choice, for example, a poster, visualisation board, campaign idea, presentation or garment design.

The event will take place on Monday 18th January and Tuesday 19th January 2010 from 10.00am – 4.00 in Lecture Theatre E22 at Edinburgh College of Art.

18th and 19th January 2010: 10.00am – 4.00pm

For more information and to register please click here.
Start Date: 2010-01-18
End Date: 2010-01-19

Fast Forward: Fashioning an Ethical Industry International Conference

Fashioning an Ethical Industry Conference_Fast Forward

Title: Fast Forward: Fashioning an Ethical Industry International Conference
Location: London
Link out: Click here

“In a time when we are increasingly concerned with the impact of the fashion industry on people and the planet students need to be equipped to design the way we make and consume fashion differently.

This two day international conference will bring together educators, industry experts, academics and selected students to explore how fashion can be taught to inspire responsibility for the rights of workers making our clothes.” (FEI)

SPEAKERS confirmed include:
Otto Von Busch – Haute-Couture Heretic
Alex Mcintosh – Centre for Sustainable Fashion
Nieves Ruiz Ramos – Bibico
Sophie Koers – Fair Wear Foundation
Academics and students will present papers peer reviewed by a panel
chaired by Doug Miller Professor in Ethical
Fashion at Northumbria University

Local Wisdom by Kate Fletcher, Reader in Sustainable Fashion at London
College of Fashion

This event is by invitation only. Invites have now been sent out by
post. If you have received at invite please RSVP by 13th January. If you have not received an invitation but would like to join us at this event please register your interest online.
Start Date: 2010-03-02
End Date: 2010-03-03

Curb Your Consumption

MA Design Studies (MADS) student, Katie Hart has recently launched an initiative set to investigate the relationship between consumer behavior and over-consumption. Through the online lab, Curb Your Consumption, Hart shares her research and ideas, bringing together resources, news, events, and links on the subject.

Her final project explores patterns of consumption within the UK. Along the way, Hart hopes to “work with a diverse range of consumers to:

  • Educate and communicate the problems with over-consumption of fashion products in the UK
  • Understand what consumers need in order to actually change their behaviour (i.e. labelling, information pack, seminars etc)
  • Contribute to a grassroots movement of positive change in consumer behaviour” (Hart, About Me)

Here are some of the exciting things happening over on her site:

Hart has created a large visual artifact that illustrates “the problem with fashion overconsumption, and the global torment we are creating with this excessive spending” (Hart, About My Project). She will also be conducting a series of workshops. If you are interested in participating, be sure to contact her. Her book, titled Buy Now. Pay Later – today’s treasure is tomorrow’s trash, will soon be available on her site, and she is currently working on what she calls “bite-size learning materials” on the following topics:

  • Fibres and Fabrics – taking the microscope to our clothes
  • The hands that touch our fashion – a journey into the histories of our garments
  • Fast Fashion – the issues
  • Recycling/Reuse – what to do with your clothes when they are worn out

If you would like to learn more, be sure to follow Hart on her journey toward solutions for sustainable consumption and learn how you can ‘curb’ your consumption habits.

***Will you be in London the first week of December? Her work will be on display at the MA Design Studies Final Exhibition, Applied Imagination – Bringing Method to the Madness at T2 Truman Brewery – from 4th – 8th December 2009.

Here are some images of her work via the online lab:

The_global_problem with fashion2     So Far_So What     The_global_problem with fashion

For more images, visit Curb Your Consumption.

MADS is a graduate program offered through Central Saint Martins. For more information on the program, click here.