YOUTH FASHION SUMMIT SPECIAL EDITION
CONTRIBUTORS Editors-in-chief: Pernille Mosbech Martin Mitchell Contributors: Kristine Harper Geraldine Barton Ghazal Bazrafkan Myrto Papailou Pernille Hammershøj Pernille Krüger Camilla Hartmann Katalin Horváth Steffen Christensen Charlotte Ea Jørgensen Victor Jones Malthe S. Rye Thomsen Mia Thornemann Hansen Helena Lundquist Graphic design: Vanessa Hoffmann Proof reading: Debbie Watson Legal: Christina Bay Palle C.E.O: Henriette Højlund Nielsen
Cover by Charlotte Ea Jørgensen
FOREWORD Less Magazine is the black sheep in the family of fashion magazines. We do not want to be a part of the fast fashion and consumption promoting industry – but we don’t mind. In fact we feel that being the black sheep is the only thing we want to be in this field of never-ending new nonsense. When Less Magazine was asked to be Media Partners of the Youth Fashion Summit, we were pleased to get the opportunity to help communicate an initiative that makes young designers, the future of the fashion industry, conscious about how to make the fashion industry sustainable. 120 students from design and business schools from around the world read and listened to webinars about sustainability for months and eventually met up in Copenhagen two days before the Copenhagen Fashion Summit to discuss solutions and visions for the future and to present a very short version of their demands in front of the industry at the Copenhagen Opera House which hosted the Copenhagen Fashion Summit. We were there the entire time and this magazine is what came out of that. At Less Magazine we believe that the question we need to ask is how can we create a fashion industry, which is sustainable both socially and ecologically but also, economically – we need to be realistic. As opposed to parts of the industry, we are not convinced that adjustments to make materials and production more socially and environmentally acceptable are enough of an answer to the question. At Copenhagen fashion summit Vanessa Friedman from Financial Times gave a speech in which she argued that the term “sustainable fashion” is in fact a contradiction in itself, as the nature of fashion is to keep changing and sustainability equals remaining the same. We couldn’t agree more at Less Magazine and this is why we call it slow clothing instead of slow fashion: The metabolism of the fashion industry must change! This overeating disorder needs to be treated with quality over quantity and identity over trends and creative meaning over mass production. In this special edition we will touch upon topics such as how to “design out waste” in production, “simple design for less impact” and much more - all themes that were presented during the webinars held in the months before the Youth Fashion Summit. With these themes in mind we will be throwing a panel debate on May 22nd at Dome of Visions, Royal Library, Copenhagen. We invited key figures from the sector to discuss the topic “When Marketing becomes Green Washing – Where to Draw the Line?” Very conveniently the theme of our next issue is Transparency. In this connection we are very excited to launch a dogma of slow clothing so the bedrock for our choices of garments and designers in the magazine becomes transparent. Look out for this during Copenhagen Fashion Week in August when we release issue 03. // Martin Mitchell & Pernille Mosbech
CONTENT Introduction: Why Youth Fashion Summit?
Statements on...Youth Fashion Summit
Three Young Minds - One Dream for the Future
A New Mindset
Care to Share - New Concepts of Ownership
Interview: Valeriya Olkhova - The Value of Craftmanship
The Beauty of Decay
7 Demands for the Fashion Sector
Interveiw: Restart fashion: In conversation with Stefan Siegel
WHY YOUTH FASHION SUMMIT? A world where fashion equals sustainability by Pernille Hammershøj Madsen
How does the new generation, specifically those who find themselves in the middle of their education, manage to use the earth’s resources more efficiently once they have obtained their diploma and are ready to conquer the job-market? Whether one’s job has a global dimension or not, the pressure to improve green production, avoid energy-waste and develop sustainable solutions is high. These tendencies are also present in the fashion industry, and consumers are continually being made aware of concepts like “slow fashion” and “sustainability”. Times are changing, and those educating themselves within the fields of fashion will have to adapt to these new ways of thinking. The Youth Fashion Summit 2014 embraces these challenges, as the initiative invites students from several different countries to jointly discuss how to adapt to the need to evolve sustainable solutions and to put these solutions into practice. Private Photo
To help the students progress towards a solution, several webinars were held in Copenhagen, during the months before the Copenhagen Fashion Summit 2014, where they presented their solutions to the audience. Søren Winther Lundby CEO and co-founder of Global Citizen+, was the speaker to open up this year’s first webinar. Less Magazine met with Mr. Lundby to talk about his viewpoints, and to reflect upon how we, in the future, can manage to transform the planet into a “greener place”. A little information: Global Citizen+ is a structure for more than 2,400 topics on sustainability, and provides the structure and the overview that is the prerequisite for a systematic approach towards sustainability. Also, the platform strives to strengthen the ABCs and alliance of sustainable economic growth; and it gathers key persons from academia, business, civil society and poli-
tics. Last but not least, Global Citizen+ tries to develop visual concepts to better comprehend the horizontal and holistic approach to sustainability. According to Mr. Lundby, on behalf of the students participating in the Youth Fashion Summit 2014, ambitions are high. When it comes to figuring out how the transition to a more sustainable world can become a cool movement, they could have a pioneering role to play, being some of the first to occupy themselves within the field of sustainability. If they can show how to “crack the code” and turn the apparel industry into a sustainable industry, they can become role models - not only for other students, but also for the industry as a whole: “ Taking sustainability to the next level – which is what we need to do for sure, is so time consuming that we need students from all around the world to chip in. This is where students engaged in the Youth Fashion Summit 2014 can be role models. Besides being students that are dealing with a topic that is crucial in terms of economic, social, environmental and demographic issues, they are also dealing with fashion that can be a driver for sustainability. If these students can crack the code, they can become not only role models for other students but also some of the heroes of tomorrow: The true problem-solvers. Also, we need to make sure that the sustainability movement will be a cool movement. This is where we need to tap into one of the very important characteristics of the global clothing industry: Fashion. Try to imagine the power embedded in a revolution where fashion equals sustainability, and sustainability equals fashion!” Power embedded in a revolution where fashion equals sustainability” - but what does sustainability actually mean? This question has still not been answered:
“Let me start out by saying that sustainability is one word, but it means so many different things. What makes it so extremely difficult to ensure a sustainable world for 9 billion people in 2050 is that we need to do so many things at the same time. We need to ensure a world that is economically, socially, environmentally and demographically sustainable. The production and consumption of clothing is closely linked to all these major categories of sustainability. The apparel industry is one of the most profitable but unsustainable industries in today’s world.” Søren explained, underlining that if the apparel industry can be turned into one of tomorrow’s sustainable industries then everything is possible: “ In fact, we need to focus on one single aspect of sustainability, and the rest, at the same time.” He continued making it clear, which challenges the students participating in the Youth Fashion Summit 2014 will have to face: “ First of all, we shouldn’t underestimate what it will take to use the earth’s resources better than today. It is the production and consumption of thousands of products that will have to be changed.” he continued, emphasized the fact that a change of habits is necessary, but will be a difficult task: “ While we are in the phase of transition, from yesterday’s mode of production and consumption towards tomorrow’s sustainable production and consumption, millions of jobs are at stake and billions of habits will have to be turned upside down. Changing our mindset is easy. What is difficult is to change habits.” Clever words, but what then is Mr. Lundby’s personal approach towards how we, in the future, can manage to use the earth’s resources better?
To answer this question, Søren suggested a systematic approach towards the challenges he first mentioned: “ Secondly we need a strategy that is ambitious and realistic at the same time. This is where we need a systematic approach. We need to keep the broad picture in mind, but at the same time break the overall challenges down into smaller problems that we can cope with on a daily basis.” He explained, and stated that none of us can solve all problems at once: “ Thirdly we need to set up a framework where we can engage each other and ourselves in the ongoing ambitious-realistic, problem-solving process. Somehow we have to figure out how the transition to a more sustainable world can be turned into a cool movement. Something you want to be a part of because it saves the world and increases the chances of getting great jobs and good family lives.”
Those words certainly represent great promises, but how do we manage to scale it all down, and simply use our resources better in our everyday life? As to all our other questions, Mr. Lundby came up with a good suggestion: “ I would focus on three resources: “Time, Skills & Passion”. I would suggest that you choose a tangible problem or a number of tangible problems that you would like to solve. Invest your time, skills & passion. Turn yourself into a dedicated expert and set up a global, interdisciplinary network of problem-solvers that are interested in the same problem(s). This would be good for the world but also for you. It is important that you, at your first interview for a job, can present a global network and show that you are an experienced problem-solver”
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S ta tements o n.. .Yo uth Fash ion Summ it
WITH STEFA N SIE G EL Fo un de r o f NJA L
“ I think the reason why it has to exist is because the students can’t afford to come here (Copenhagen Fashion Summit ed.). Yesterday some students or young designers told me it’s too expensive to come here so I think either they open this big summit up or they have the Youth Fashion Summit and I think ideally both should happen at the same time. It should be all open doors. But definitely, the more people engaged, the more people collaborating, the more we act in an open source environment the better it is.”
Photo by Charlie Strand
WITH PE TER INGW ER S EN
Fa sh i on C o nsu ltan t an d ju d g e in Youth Fashi on Summi t panel
“ I think both the Youth Fashion Summit and Copenhagen Fashion Summit recognize that the fashion business needs to change. It is common sense. Firstly because the environment doesn’t benefit from this business, secondly the social ethics of humanity doesn’t benefit from this, and finally, at some time this will become law. The European Union is going to legislate this law, and it’s better to be a part of the decision making before a politician, who actually doesn’t know anything about this will be involved. That is why it’s important. But it is very early days, it’s still pioneering work, so that means you can only dream and have visions for where it is going.”
WITH TOKE FA LK S A B R O E, La u nc h Nord ic
“ The Youth Fashion Summit is a good idea because in order to change anything you need to engage the next generation and this is what the Youth Fashion Summit is all about. It’s a good idea because it’s an international summit so it brings together people across cultures, different perspectives and different organisations. It’s a good idea because it allows, and in a way forces you to think of new approaches to the way we do things. Think about where the barriers are, and what we can do when we engage in our professional life, either within a company or as entrepreneurs. I hope a lot of the students participating in the Youth Fashion Summit will become entrepreneurs. We need all the initiatives we can get that address these issues, that address how we make things, and how we consume things during the next years and the next decades. The more initiatives the better, especially because the Youth Fashion Summit, as I said before, brings together so many interesting people, and so many interesting perspectives. Simply, the Youth Fashion Summit 2014 should be held because we need all the momentum we can get.”
Photo by Callot Team
Three Creative Minds
ONE COMMON DREAM by Myrto Papailiou and Pernille HammershĂ¸j Photos by Helena Lundquist
The Youth Fashion Summit 2014 was a holistic experience, which began long before the workshop on the 22nd of April. Even though they were spread around different countries in the world, the participating students received a strong education on sustainable matters through a series of extended webinars, taught by people with great knowledge on the subject. As it happens in educational systems nowadays, the participants also tested themselves and their knowledge by completing an important assignment before they attended the main workshop, which was held the 22nd of April. Each student was asked to thoroughly research a company from his/her country in order to come up with some challenges that this company faces. The challenges should then be followed by creative solutions, inspired by the different webinars. Meet three of the creative minds that are of different origins but have a common dream: to turn the fashion industry into a sustainable project.
Tyre Loe For her assignment, Tyre Loe worked with the small Danish design company Vibe Johansson. Vibe Johansen is not a sustainable company per se, but sustainability is something the owner would like to investigate.
“ The solutions made by the designer have a huge influence on the life span of the garment. I found this fact, that it all comes down to the design process, rather interesting, and I wanted to investigate what relevant design methods could be used to increase the lifespan of the product.”
Tyre finished by announcing that she will use the knowledge gained when she develops her own sustainable company one day.
In order to do so, Tyre did some research around waste reduction by incorporating negative space into the design, emotional attachment through Slow Fashion, and multifunctional designs, which demands something from the user. Tyre’s attitude towards the question of whether the various design methods, which she came up with, could be implemented in “real life” is quite positive: “ The design process is a rather personal thing, and it might be a bit hard for the designer to change his/ her routines. On the other hand, only small changes are demanded, and I would say they are easier to implement than big changes taking place in the production.” According to Tyre, being open minded and not afraid to fail are two very important factors companies should keep in mind when working with 14
“ It’s not possible to be perfect from scratch so don’t try to be. Nobody is perfect, but as long as everybody tries his or her best we are getting a long way.”
“ The reason for my choice of company is that being small, one canmore easily adapt to changes and make a difference.” she explained to Less Magazine. She outlined one important thing which she learned from participating in the Youth Fashion Summit 2014; that sustainability is not only about design, but also about all aspects of the company, and how it communicates its designs to collaborative consumption: “ Due to personal interest, I have worked with a lot of the subjects before. Among others I’ve been involved with is the “Trash To Trend” taking place in Tallinn. It was good to connect all the different areas at the Youth Fashion Summit 2014.” When trying to implement sustainability into the company, Tyre faced many challenges such as the right choice of material and obtaining a circle value chain.
Myrto Papailiou For her assignment, Myrto Papailiou worked with the small Greek brand, Akira Mushi, that makes minimal, multifunctional clothes and accessories. Before moving to Copenhagen in order to study Sustainable Fashion at KEA (Copenhagen School of Design & Technology), Myrto had already been involved with the company as an intern in Greece, and therefore she knew that the company would appreciate her assignment: “ Akira Mushi is a brand which wants to become better, day-by-day and it’s very open to new ideas and suggestions. Surprisingly I found it difficult to find any big challenges on sustainability matters. I wouldn’t say they promote some kind of sustainability but they are very responsible. Personally, I chose to study the brand’s challenges from the designer’s point of view and I focused on the materials. I studied three different perspectives relating to materials: Materials and credibility, materials and cost, materials and brand identity. Their first challenge (materials and credibility) was that they couldn’t find suppliers in Greece who could give enough information about the origin of the fabrics or the information was not trustworthy enough. The second challenge (materials and cost) was that the brand couldn’t afford the prices of the presumable “organic” materials, considering that they wanted their products to be affordable for the Greek market. The third challenge (material and brand identity) was that, according to my observations, the brand doesn’t always follow a clear fabric palette and in my opinion this can be confusing for the customer.”
In order to come up with some solutions to the challenges the company faces, she came up with suggestions on how the company could work with recycling, as this is an area it wishes to explore. She came up with ideas such as collaborating with companies that recycle or reuse fabrics and small swatches, or implement how to create new textiles out of the wasted ones. The company should be able to work this idea into their business, since their relationship with the customers is very close, and by inviting the customers to give back old garments Akira Mushi could reuse the fabrics for accessories or new clothing parts. “ This could be a good way to be more responsible in terms of materials without adding more cost; in addition, it would add emotional value and storytelling to the garments.” She underlined the fact that the company doesn’t have a sustainable business plan but already works responsibly. For instance, they produce according to demand, they reuse their stock fabrics and they collaborate with animal shelters, making their business very “politically correct”. According to Myrto, the fact that Akira Mushi already works responsibly gives them a head start in becoming even more sustainable. “ I will use these values I learned at The Youth Fashion Summit to help me make more responsible choices in my future life as a designer .” 15
Anada Sanchez For her assignment Anada chose to work with Mango. Mango operates with the typical approaches that every big company has towards sustainability, but after all Anada doesn’t believe the company really takes sustainability into consideration. For instance, Mango has a “Made in Green” label on their garments, but it’s totally unclear what this is made for. They have a sustainability report and a CSR department, some “organic” products and a certification, which says that they don’t use PVC in any of their garments. However it’s important to notice, that they use PVC in their bags and accessories. When starting on her assignment Anada tried to e-mail Mango but she never received a reply. Therefore, the closest contact she had with the company was a friend who works for them: “ My personal challenge was to find all the information I needed, since Mango is a big company and it’s difficult to get information straight from them. As for Mango, the biggest challenge I faced was the choice of suppliers. An example is the accident at Rana Plaza where Mango was involved, because it either didn’t follow or it didn’t want to follow the appropriate criteria for the supplier’s choice. Another challenge that Mango faces is definitely the lack of communication, and the fact that they are not transparent at all. For example, they talk about how they implement their code of conduct but they don’t give any information about their suppliers, they give 16
a percentage of the production they have in every country and that’s all!” To overcome her communication-problem, Anada choose to work with the suppliers’ evaluation in order to come up with an evaluation software solution: I checked the supplier application Mango has on the web and I realized they do ask for many technical things, but they don’t say anything about certificates, and therefore I found that the application form was very poor. Then I thought it would be easier and less time consuming to create a software, which would allow all the supplier-candidates to log into a system and go through a number of steps, where they would submit all the necessary certificates and official documents according to Mango’s code of conduct. This would be an automatic way to evaluate the suppliers and exclude those who don’t fulfil the requirements, by not being able to complete all the steps of the application. Moreover, many manufactures want to produce for big companies like Mango so they would perform better if this was the only way to be considered.” Another solution she came up with was to create awareness regarding Mango’s code of conduct throughout the supplier’s employees. Anada believes that Mango needs to be in contact with the people who are working for them, and the people who are working for Mango should be aware of what Mango says to the rest of the world. As a third solution, she suggested that Mango should prom-
ulgate its sustainability report, as the brand Patagonia did. Her last solution was to use the “Source Map” application. This is an application that gives transparency because it shows information about the product and where it’s been made. Three very good suggestions, but is it possible that they could be implemented in real life?
“ I gained great knowledge from following the webinars and participating in the Youth Fashion Summit in general. I can definitely benefit from all this once I start working in a company. As a student, it gives us confidence to propose new things and take initiatives, since we know what the possibilities are, what it takes and which solutions don’t work.”
“ I think it’s definitely possible. Mango has what it needs in order to implement these solutions. They do have the money, they do have the resources, and they can afford to take the risk. But they must understand that this risk is worth taking”. Anada emphasizing the fact that companies need to understand that by communicating sustainability they make their image stronger: It’s fine to say that you’re not perfect but that you will keep trying to be better. When doing so, you (as a company, red) show to the customer that you are confident about what you do, and you show to the press and NGOs that you don’t have anything to hide. It has long-term benefit, but also long-term profit. For example, in the Rana Plaza case, what is the profit if your whole production goes down? zERO..” The interview with Anada finished by a quick chat about how she will use the knowledge she gained by being a participant in the Youth Fashion Summit 2014: 17
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H A I R BY H E R L I T S C H E K email@example.com
Cope n h ag e n V + 45 2 2 2 7 4 4 5 6
HONEST CONSCIOUSNESS by Claudia Chan, London College of Fashion Kathrine Gram Hvejsel Kolding School of Design Naemi Gustavsson, The Royal Danish Academy of fine arts
Jewellery Pernille Corydon and Mathilde Brødsgaard Models Asger and Frederikke - Diva Models Makeup and hair Santi Kitipanya Styling Mathilde Brødsgaard Photographer Steffen Christensen 19
by Claudia Chan London College of Fashion
“ The collection is inspired by the Skagen painters and the way they depicted the unique Danish landscape in the 1890s. Improvising with the skills that I gained from previous years, the collection is created with the utmost attention to pattern construction and fabrication. Each outfit is ‘bespoked’ for a specific person, from measurements to fittings, making to finishing. Linen has been chosen as a predominant fabric because of its casual summer quality, which resembles the paintings of the Skagen artists. Furthermore, my interest in sustainable designs, I integrated natural dying in the collection. The sources of dyestuffs were grown locally in Hackney, London, where I live and study. ”
by Kathrine Gram Hvejsel Kolding School of Design
â€œ The project is inspired by the thought on how to create sustainable clothes, with a highly valued aesthetic. It is an offer on how to use different sustainable concepts to understand and show the opportunities that are working which sustainability represents. One concept is to use leftover materials of high quality from local companies, in this case Gabriel, a furniture fabric manufacturer and Ecco, a shoe manufacturer. Another is to use organic natural fibres all the way from thread and fabrics to trimming. Furthermore there is upcycling as an offer and, last but not least, a concept that is recyclable in the use of purely polyester materials. The aesthetics of clothing is important to make fashion relevant. That itâ€™s sustainable should be evident â€? 22
S t ate m en t
by Naemi Gustavsson, The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts
â€œ A menswear collection that is based on transparency toward the consumer and how men in general have an interest in exploring the technique behind a product. The technique being shown is on the outside, which creates direct transparency and a curiosity for further exploring of the product and by having codes in the cloth you can get all the information about the product. This creates a relationship and knowledge about the product that gives it a greater value and makes it last longer, the consumer will be more proud of it and take more care of the product for a longer time.
I believe in making the consumer unconsciously conscious when it comes to sustainable fashion. The aim is that the consumer will make a sustainable choice without thinking about it. â€?
S imple desi gn for less imp act
TODAY’S ROLE AS A DESIGNER
“I design - therefore I am” ... or? by Pernille Krüger
The world seems more and more complex and non-transparent. That is, while consumers are looking for products and concepts that represent and contain narratives, they are also looking for simplicity and transparency along the production chain. Today there is a growing revolt from consumers against mass production. Micro-producers are gaining renewed attention for their capacity to be small, yet specialized. The industry is talking about a so-called system changes from fast-fashion - to slow-clothing. This means that the role of the designer has developed within the changes of the system.
From the very beginning of fashion design history, the designer’s role was clear and respected. The designer was seen as a craftsman, focusing on function with an aesthetic approach throughout his craftsmanship and material skills. Then the designer became an artist. The designer was seen as a creative genius among the majority - a person that was gifted with certain skills. Then came modernism and functionalism and this removed every non-functional element of the design products. It became a time of focusing on the markets and streamlined designs. This once again left the designer with a new role; the designer as a modernist and functionalist - the ‘form follow function’ phase.
For the last twenty years the designers from around the world have been focusing on designing within meaning and context. They have been designing within the linear material economy; from extraction - to production - to distribution - to consumption to disposal. These design processes were built around a system we today know as the fast-fashion system. Today, we like to think of designers as multi-functional, slow-orientated artists, designing within meaning and context. We want them to take on a holistic approach to design. We want them to change the material economy from linear to circular. We want
them to close the gap between final disposal and new products. We want them to rethink old garments into new ones. We want them to make sustainable designs which can be worn years ahead, rather than being seasonally based. We demand that they take care of the local and global environment. And, oh yeah, - besides all this, we also want them to be transparent, to be people we can relate and rely on - we want them to be human. Is that too much to ask for? No. Here is one of the existing brands who might hold the key to a more sustainable fashion future. They have done their very best to fulfill our wishes for a greener path,
designing within meaning and context. The brand named Wool and the Gang is a global fashion brand that believes in exceptional design that is uniquely made. They are never factory made and mass-produced. All items are handcrafted or knitted by the gang itself, a team of artisans and makers around the world. As an alternative, the items are bought as an easy-to-follow knit-kit, which include the consumer in the production of the item. The consumer knits their own customized Wool and the Gang design at home. This is a way of including the consumer in the production of a design product. This also guarantees that no products are being over-produced. Wool and the Gang is an extraordinary example of how the new mind-set within the Slow Fashion movement is implemented. These products are simple design, simple production for less impact - and a truly remarkable act of rethinking future design products into sustainable alternatives! Conclusion becomes blurred as new business models and concepts develop for infinity. But for now the conclusion is based upon the role of today’s designers.
To work as a designer today is more complex that it was just 10 years ago. The Slow Fashion movement suggests a change of the fashion designers role for the future. It is led by a whole new mindset; simple design, simple production - for less impact. In order to enable implementation of such a mind-set in future design products, a major reorganization of existing production-systems is required. It is of great importance to have a consistent strategy based on the desirable sustainable approach - to be bold in showing the creativity, to think and act within alternatives. It is essential that the designer incorporates the whole life-circle of a design product - from the beginning to the very end. Designing fashion has become a complex job position. Therefore designers need to simplify both the design product and the production of it. Only then is it possible to design products that will have a smaller environmental impact. Let’s make the industry transparent. Let’s make simple design for less impact. Let’s do it together - across cultures and knowledge.
CARE TO SHARE By Camilla Hartmann
What involves collaborative consumption? In recent years “Collaborative Consumption” has become one of the major buzzwords. What are the factors which make it so important? Basically the concept centers on making better use of the resources available. It is about sharing and cooperating in order to create the greatest possible value for the end consumer. This is achieved by moving away from traditional ownership-based consumerism, and instead creating shared access to the products or services offered. The fundamental idea is that you, as a consumer, are able to buy temporary access to products or services instead of needing to purchase the product outright. Compared to the ownership-based consumption, collaborative consumption is proving to be a much more sustainable way of consuming. By eliminating the necessity for constantly producing more products, it considerably reduces the massive over-consumption which has been contributing greatly to pollution and draining of natural resources in the past, and will continue to do so in the foreseeable future. This will not happen unless our way of consuming changes. To give an example of this gross over-consuming, about 30 % of the clothes currently hanging in our wardrobes, have been left hanging there, unused for the last year. These unused clothes could potentially be used by other people, who wanted just THAT item. And the owner of that one item might need something unused from someone else’s wardrobe. This is the key to collaborative consumption and this is why it will have such a huge impact on consumerism in the future. It is time to change our old habits of “Buy and Throw Away”. It is time to start appreciating the values, which already exist, instead of constantly replacing old with new, and it is time for a completely new outlook on the way we consume and the way we do business.
This is not to say that “collaborative consumption” is a new concept. Sharing services for other services has existed forever. But to truly rival the old fashioned “buy and throw away” culture we need platforms to make it easy for both users and sharers. Platforms like Spotify for example. For a fixed fee per month Spotify provides unlimited access to whichever song the consumer desires to listen to. Another company like Netflix works in a similar way, providing the user with a vast variety of movies to watch at the time of their choosing. These concepts, along with many others, are becoming increasingly popular with people all over the world. It provides the users with unparalleled freedom to choose what they want, when they want. THE NEW CONCEPT CHAREROOM April 26nd marks the start of the new Danish concept store, Chareroom. Chareroom could be described as the walk-in closet of your dreams, giving you access to all of the designer clothing you could possibly desire for a fixed monthly membership fee of just 159 Dkk, A physical Chareroom store is located conveniently on Hyskenstræde in the heart of Copenhagen, and all members can come here and borrow clothes. Besides being a groundbreaking and innovative step towards providing access to, rather than ownership of, designer clothing, the concept is also very environmentally friendly compared to what we normally associate the fashion industry with. In fact the fashion industry is one of the most polluting industries in the world. In Denmark alone, 89 million kg of clothing was thrown out last year. This means that every Danish person, on average, throws out 16 kg of clothing a year! In general the “Buy and Throw Away” mentality is still dominant throughout most of the western world, and is now increasing in countries like Chi-
na as well. With the ever-continuing development and improvement of production technology, the influence of this way of thinking has been increasing in strength, with dire consequences for the environment. Everything is getting cheaper so people buy more. This is the essence of fast fashion. These cheaply produced clothes, often made by extremely poor workers in 3rd world countries, are sold in high street chains such as Zara, Topshop, H&M and Monki. In these stores you can, at any time, buy 3 t-shirts for 100 Dkk. But is this a problem? Is cheap not good, and cheaper even better? And since the design follows that of the famous houses, the average consumer will more often than not choose this cheap alternative. But yes, it is a problem, and unfortunately, cheaper is not always better. In fact cheap clothing is often
of such a low quality that it is thrown out after only being used an average of 8 times. But when standing in the store the average consumer does not think about these things. Only two things matter: price and appearance. This is the mentality which rules consumerism across all industries, it is the mentality promoted by many high street chains and it is this mentality which Chareroom and other concepts are trying to change. Slowly. Chareroom as a concept seeks to promote the idea of reusing clothing instead of throwing it out. This is a firm stand against the fast fashion industry, a stand which Chareroom makes in cooperation with numerous designers such as: Stella Nova, Anne Vest, Barbara i Gongini, Britt Sisseck, By Groth, Ecouture by Lund, Edith og El-
The whole concept about ‘accessibility rather than ownership’ to several products or services seems to have a bright future. It started out with music, (fx. Spotify), Mofibo. com (e-books online), and then came Netflix and HBO, where you have access to almost all movies and TV-series for a certain amount per month. Now the concept is slowly sneaking into the fashion industry. Maybe in 10 years the hottest thing will be to rent clothes instead of buying them – you never know. But there is no doubt about it: The concept is a win-win for all parties; the consumer, both economically and environmentally – and the business itself. la, Five Units, Just Female, Kokoon, Kudibal, Maikel Tawadros, Naja Lauf, Silverblack, Samsøe & Samsøe, Storm & Marie, Tusnelda Bloch, Vibe Johansson, Wackerhaus, Whiite, and Wood Wood. As Chareroom is a Danish concept only Danish designers have given clothes and stated their support for the concept. If it is successful there is hope that the concept and the way of thinking it symbolizes, will spread throughout the world. It is time to change, and with this concept and others like it, there is hope that change will soon come. But why are all these designers willing to donate all these clothes? What motivates them to support such a concept? I asked the designer behind the brand Wackerhaus, Trine Wackerhausen and she explains how important it is to support new concepts, which benefit all, both economically and environmentally. If you want a “fashion quick fix” the Chareroom concept is genius, instead of buying cheap clothes from the high-street shops, which are often thrown away after a few washes. Trine continues and explains about future consumption patterns; “Hopefully the tendency about buying less but higher quality products, is going to dominate the consumption patterns among consumers in the future. Buying low quality products you do not really care about, is such a waste. Instead of mindless consumption just save up for something more durable or go to a secondhand shop – that’s a win-win!”
Interview: Design for Change
Valeriya Olkhova THE VALUE OF CRAFTMANSHIP by Martin Mitchell Photos by Charlotte Ea JĂ¸rgensen
Ukranian born Valeirya Olkhova is one of the brightest talents on the slow clothing scene of Denmark bringing her hand knitted, texture-based creations into the light of day. After finishing her studies at Chelsea College Of Arts in 2011 with a BA in Textile Design she has worked in different positions with both Danish Woolmark 2014 nominee Anne-Sophie Madsen and Swedish cult brand Obscur and is currently doing showpieces for the Faroese designer, Barbara I Gongini adding her unique pieces to the dark and complex universe of the praised designer. 32
I sat down in a cozy, personal top floor apartment in the heart of NĂ¸rrebro, Copenhagen to learn more about the universe of this creative personality. You are instantly met with the warm and intense aura of this young, blond Ukrainian woman with a lovely London accent and an amour of black clothes draped around her body. Choosing Valeirya as a slow fashion spokesperson is straightforward if you look at a description of the term: Slow-fashion is an advocate of small-scale productions, handicraft techniques, local materials and markets. The slow-fashion phenomenon
raise questions around and about the principles behind the globalized mass-production of fast-fashion-garments and its influence on the people and the environment within it.
fact that a quality item takes time to produce and to stop thinking in Summer-, Winter-, pre-, conscious- or whatever-they-are-called collections. As Valeirya explains to me:
Valeriya’s work is based on handcraft and a love for experimentation and the approach to work with what you have by hand. When hand knitting the way Valeirya does, it is a very delicate and extremely intimate process, not something for everyone to engage in because of the time consuming production. She talks about the possibility of simplifying her products, patterns and designs to make it possible to expand production and involve more people in the making of her beautifully crafted garments. But as she adds:
“ I don’t make collections for summer or for winter or for the frame of the seasons. I try to develop fabrics and textures that can have a life of their own, be cherished and passed on through generations. I want them to live.”
“ They could maybe do the three pieces needed for a capsule collection for a shop. But they wouldn’t want to do it again because of all the fiddly work one has to do when making my pieces.” Valeriya is as slow as it gets in terms of production time but that is where the authenticity lies. Having your hands on a material, playing with it, seeing what it can do in certain situations. That is where a truly personal product comes alive: “ I remember sitting as a kid and having this fabric in front of me. You explore what you can do with it. You just do it, you just play around. I find it more interesting than watching TV to be honest. It stimulates the brain more. And it is something I have kept with me. Just taking what you have at hand and make it work in terms of design.” Valeriya and Less Magazine share the belief that we need to slow down the pace of the fashion We need to treasure the craftsmanship of creating and accept a slowing down on production times, thus maintaining the authenticity of the sector and ensure better quality and longer lasting garments; – and of course this will make clothing more expensive than what you can buy in high street stores now, but we need to add more value to clothing so it can be respected for its true cost – both in terms of natural resources, but also production and creativity. We need to accept the
Fast Fashion moves on to the next trend or item and thus creating a constant need for something new by the consumer. Valeirya on the other hand moves on to a new project because she has put so much effort into just a few pieces. She constantly wants to challenge herself and she cares more about quality than about quantity and profit. That is artisanal. That is very limited and that is in fact very sustainable: “ Having the space and resources to explore creatively without the pressure of living off it is beautiful. However; in practice there is something beautiful about trying to develop work and concepts which is unique AND understood. I don’t believe that we design just for our personal aesthetic pleasure or satisfaction. We cannot avoid the materialistic reality of today’s society, but we can try to influence values and patterns of consumption.” We need to support these young, brave and creative designers as they hold the key to the future of fashion - or just clothing as Less Magazine likes to phrase it. Handcraft, passion and honesty. Small businesses driven by an urge to show just how capable they are at making beautifully crafted garments needs to be a core part of this sector. Less Magazine salutes Valeirya Olkhova and other like-minded designers who are simply producing garments out of the pure love for creation. If consumers learnt how to appreciate this kind of work, Valeirya and other like-minded businesses might be sustainable in more than just the ecofriendly sense of the word, but also in the economic sense.
A dver ti sement
A NIM I SM Photography Charlotte Ea Joergensen Model My Nilsson, Le Management Designer and concept Valeriya Olkhova Makeup Peter Syrik and Valeriya Olkhova Set designer and concept Charlotte Boyte
CHOICE ANIMISM MEDUSA’S DUALITY PRIMITIVE EMOTIONS AND ANCIENT RITUALS FUTURISM… 36
9.5 degrees Chair by BFex Chair from Flux Collection by Tine Daring Houndsgaard.
Table from Flux Collection by Tine Daring Houndsgaard
41 SAMLING PLATE BY BFEX
A dver tisement
D e s i g n f o r C h a n ge
THE BEAUTY OF DECAY by Kristine Hornshøj Harper
”Whereas modern design often uses inorganic ma-
terials to defy the natural aging effects of time, wabi sabi embraces them and seeks to use this transformation as an integral part of the whole. ”
Even though mainstream fashion is fast and ”dictates” new looks several times a year especially the fashion brands that produce pre-fall and pre-spring outfits on top of their spring-summer and fall-winter collections - consumers don’t change their wardrobes every season. They hold on to certain items that they get attached to - items that they, in some way, establish an emotional bond to or items that, due to their look, hold an aesthetic that compliments their identity. If you get emotionally attached to a garment, which for example could imply the look of the garment becoming an important part of your identity, or the sensation of it reminding you of someone important or of a significant event in your life, or perhaps the item starting to feel like a “second skin”, maintaining it and mending becomes necessary and important. The mending process can, in fact, add emotional and aesthetic value to the garment, or make it more interesting or perhaps even more beautiful. Not in a flashy, shiny-new kind of way, but in a sensual and tactile way. Patches and stitches and rough parts and faded colours hold a beauty that cannot be machine-produced; a beauty characterized by the storytelling of use and by a stimulating tactile experience. Slowing down fashion involves creating garments that can in fact be repaired or upgraded, and that age with beauty. Aging with beauty, when dealing with pieces of clothing, includes using natural quality materials that become softer, more comfortable, and more tactically stimulating when used, as well as working with good fitting, and thereby with the option of adjusting the garment and of individualising or upgrading the garment by including changeable elements. Imitating use in new garments is another way of featuring the beautiful traces that use and decay can leave behind. Pre-emptively beating the decaying process can make the consumer feel more instantly connected to a garment, as it has been artificially “worn out”, which normally happens to favourite shirts and trousers and dresses; i.e. to loved objects. Implementing the possibility of mending or upgrading a piece of clothing or deliberately making a new garment look worn and weathered are ways of celebrating use and the love between a consumer and a product – and the beauty of decay.
Design by Pernille Krüger Photographer Alesya Gulevich
Materials are of great importance when working with slow fashion, and the investigation of which materials contain the potential of aging with beauty is a very beneficial part of a design-process. Manipulating and experimenting with fabrics can provide the designer with the possibility to embrace and implement the beauty of decay, as well as the option of creating a sustainable bond between consumer and product. In accordance with the introducing quote, the materials used could advantageously be organic or natural, since natural materials embrace the changes that time and use leaves behind, instead of fighting them. As a part of her inspiring Craft of Use Project Kate Fletcher describes fostering the potential of use; a concept, which I find very interesting. If you, as a designer, can incorporate the use-potential in the piece of clothing you are creating, and thereby actually encourage the consumer to wear the garment as much as possible, even though this might imply wearing it out (because wearing a garment actually gives it character and makes it even more beautiful), a strong connection between the user and the garment is created. As a consequence, the fast track of mainstream fashion is broken. Fostering the potential of use and slowing down fashion implies a slight change in the way we view being well-dressed; where the consumer society and the fast track fashion-industry feature the flawless and the shiny-new and non-faded look, slow fashion is all about seeing the beauty and quality in the organic, changeable appearance of well-designed and well-made objects. Kate Fletcher also introduces the term user-ship as a part of her Local Wisdom Project. User-ship is a process in which the users in “dialogue” with the piece of clothing, mends and takes care of it, and thereby makes the piece truly their own. Perhaps they add colourful embroidery or change the buttons or add a patch of patterned fabric; all of which gives the garment its own unique and rustic beauty as well as turns it into a tale of use. The rustic beauty of the faded and the patched as well as the thought of the “dialogue” between materials and a person (the designer or the “mender”) remind me of the aesthetics of Wabi-sabi. Wabi-sabi is a Japanese aesthetic ideal based on Zen Buddhism that embraces and finds beauty in asymmetrical, irregular, and rustic expressions. In wabi-sabi, the decay of things is viewed as adding value to the design-experience, which is why objects created in accordance with wabi-sabi must be made of materials in which the effects of weathering and use can be traced. “Things wabi-sabi are expressions of time frozen. They are made of materials that are visibly vulnerable to the effects of weathering and human treatment. They record the sun, wind, rain, heat, and cold in a language of discoloration, rust, tarnish, stain, warping, shrinking, shriveling, and cracking.” Garments created in accordance with the wabi-sabi aesthetic principles contain the seeds of decay; they can fade and tear and get repaired without compromising their beauty – and as such they are sustainable.
Photographer Ellinor Stigle used with permission given by Kate Fletcher of Local Wisdom project
YOUTH FASHION SUMMIT THE VOICE OF THE NEXT GENREATION
nothing but state reality: we ‘give 2 get’
decision-makers to rethink the role of a fashion designer
try, government and civil society to create a fashion democracy
Copenhagen Fashion Summit
leaders to help us build a critical society
“We demand you to be
“We demand World
“We demand the Indus-
7 DEMANDS FOR THE FASHION SECTOR...
“We demand the
Industry to re-organize into collaborating competence cluster
brave and stop business
“We demand that the
fashion Industry enables us to wear emotions and experiences instead of garments
COMMUNICATING SUSTAINABILITY By Katalin Horvath
During the 5th webinar of this year’s Youth Fashion Summit in Copenhagen, lecturer Helene Jeune from Copenhagen School of Design and Technology, presented the subject of sustainable communication. The purpose of this webinar was to raise awareness around this concept and emphasize the importance of it. Communicating sustainability includes the companies’ involvement with economic, social and/or environmental issues. Now this can provoke quite a challenge for the fashion labels out there, since the information provided needs to be understandable to all involved stakeholders, especially the consumers, who do not have excessive background knowledge. In order for this to succeed, the main goal is to transform sustainability into something accessible, from complex to simple, from boring to desirable and from invisible to visible. The importance of communicating sustainability lies in the right of the customer to have access to information regarding their garments’ manufacturing. In the past, this was not seen as a need of the customers; in today’s society however this has become a form of demand and is of value to both the company and the customer. Naturally, this requirement is also strongly connected with the efforts taken by companies to improve the issues provoked by the fashion industry, like child-labor, bad working conditions, un-
der-payment and so on. Through this effort, the result could be the building up of credi bility, trust and authenticity between a fashion company and its customers. The importance of this concept does not only include the concern side, but also has a positive effect on the customers’ consumption. A few years ago, one would buy a garment based on price, quality, look and other aspects, but in today’s consumption world, the fashion industry has created another important factor that can strongly influence the decision-making process when purchasing a product and that is sustainability and information. Sustainability is the need to know about the efforts taken by the company and the engagement with the environmental factors, and as for information, the customers wish to know more about where their garments come from. This requirement and influential factor can guide and slowly shift fashion consumption into a new direction that is more engaged with environmental issues and demand change. This change could represent the reduction of the amount of clothing we buy and more commitment in the life cycle of the garment after purchasing. This will not only reduce the apparel industry’s waste and number of new items being produced, but also the customers need to purchase. When communicating sustainability, it is important to remember to address the message accordingly to each individual group.
Now, the information required by customers, needs to include detailed information about the manufacturing of their garment. Customers of today wish to find out where their piece of clothing comes from and how many hands worked on it. In addition, they would also like to find out about the fashion company’s engagement with environmental factors and what does the company contribute as a business to improve these. During the 5th Webinar, the lecturer Helene Jeune, presented three strategies through which sustainability can be communicated to the companies’ stakeholders: the informative strategy, the stakeholder response strategy and the stakeholder involvement strategy. The first one includes actions like reports, advertising and packaging through which information can be transferred, but there is no personal contact between the company and its stakeholders. The second one involves customer service, social media, visiting suppliers or co-creating, and it can increase the customers’ interest and loyalty through engagement. Last but not least, is the stakeholder involvement strategy, which focuses on partnerships, collaborations, and third party endorsements through engaging with stakeholders. This could end up in developing innovative products by allowing them to be involved in the process. All three strategies can be applied to the online media for successful sustainable communication, through positioning information on the website, social media or other options.
Bolivia 18.4258 - S 66.5304 - W 01 - Origin
Denmark 50.7200 - E 12.5700 - N
In most cases, the companies rely on their website to serve as the most effective way of communicating sustainability, since this option is easily accessible and daily used by everyone. The platform can be used as an alternative to allow the customers to access information regarding the clothes manufacturing or other things. This demand is strongly connected with the fashion company’s value and what the company wishes to provide information about. In the case of Swedish denim label, Nudie Jeans, the customers have access to a production map and information regarding the company’s efforts taken for environmental improvement, but their website also serves as a guide that follows the pair of jeans throughout their life-cycle after purchasing. In other cases, like for example the Belgian Honest By, the fashion label puts focus on transparency, therefore detailed information regarding the garments’ manufacturing, material information from the textile down to the safety pin and price calculation is mentioned. Since demand is continually increasing, the pressure of acting upon communicating sustainability as a fashion company can sometimes end up as more marketing, rather than environmental efforts. But this is not the only issue you face as a company; the other thing is that it is simply not enough to only change one aspect of your supply chain. It is not enough to only choose to use organic cotton
F i b e r r e fi n e m e n t
Sp i n n i n g M a n u a l fi b e r sorting
00 - Design Washing
75% water reuse
Dy i n g
Minimal dying Maximal Use of natural colurs
in a collection. And that is, because while in the case of organic cotton, the chemicals used in the harvesting process are partially or fully eliminated, the dying process still requires chemical usage. In this case, some companies advertise themselves as being sustainable, while only limited efforts have been made to improve the environmental issues. And
there is of course the totally opposite option, where companies do not spend much time or energy on marketing themselves as such, but more on acting and engaging with these matters. Some companies have a very effective way of ending up with limited textile waste after production, while others have found smart options to re-use and recycle their previous
Photo by Nudie Jeans
Photo by Nudie Jeans
S h i pp in g a n d t ra n sp or t
C on su m er usage
Link i n g B io gr a d a b le w r a p p in g Han d fin i s h i n g
Manu al qu al i t y con tr ol
piece for piece control
Minimal local transport usage Wardrobe essentials
Photo by Nudie Jeans
collections or are strongly engaged with collaborating with NGOs that could help them or guide them with improving the environmental factors. In the case of Green Washing, which is the phenomenon of using marketing for communicating sustainability, when having limited action taken, the company could easily invest that money spent on marketing, by giving, for example, a higher salary to the garment factory workers. So one may ask, which way is more ethical: communicating sustainability when there is limited action taken or not communicating, although having taken plenty of action? Sustainability in fashion is slowly shifting into changing the entire supply chain of one company. Some companies are doing it, and
others havenâ€™t even started. But sustainability needs to be communicated to all involved stakeholders and this also needs to be done in a sustainable and ethical way. An effect of the slow fashion movement is that the term sustainability is often associated in the eyes of the society with limited creativity and color choice and not attractive, very trendy collections. And this is a natural response to those who do not have extensive knowledge around this. While it is totally the opposite, sustainable fashion is allowing the designers to go crazy with their creativity, but the importance lies on the supply chain management. Because of this association, many companies, who did start off as being â€œgreenâ€?, tend to run a risk when slowly shifting to being such, since the company may not represent the same value
Photo by Nudie Jeans for the customers. And it could also be having a negative effect, when the companyâ€™s brand identity is not placed in harmony with being sustainable. Since there is this demand to have access to information regarding their purchase and the companyâ€™s sustainable actions are continuously increasing, slowly each fashion company should be communicating sustainability one way or another. The most accessible and simple way of doing it is through the companyâ€™s website. Although it is important to transform this information from complex to simple, from invisible to visible, and from limited to accessible, many issues will have to be faced, when exposing information, but the environmental engagement and actions
are the most important. Communicating them will not only raise awareness between the customers, but it will create new value for them that will hopefully lean them towards another way of consuming fashion. This communication has the potential of building bridges between fashion companies and their customers and to build trust that will slowly shift the fashion consumption of today into a less polluting and less socially impacting one.
IN CONVERSATION WHITH
Stefan Siegel by Gez Barton During the Copenhagen Fashion Summit we caught up with the founder of NOT JUST A LABEL, Stefan Siegel. Established in 2008, NOT JUST A LABEL is now recognised as the world’s leading designer platform for promoting new talent in contemporary fashion, showcasing the work of 15,000 young designers from over 100 countries. Together with actress and activist Connie Nielsen, and in partnership with the Danish Fashion Institute and the sustainability platform NICE (Nordic Initiative, Clean and Ethical), Siegel presented a concise 5-step sustain- ability guide for designers to freely access and act upon. In this interview, Siegel explains what the ´Restart Fashion: Five Easy Steps to Sustainability´ initiative can offer young designers, what his thoughts are on reconfiguring the value system of the fashion industry, and the importance of re-embracing artisanship. When Stefan Siegel and I sit down overlooking the harbour of Copenhagen, he has just come offstage where he co-presented “Restart Fashion: Five Easy Steps to Sustainability” to an international audience of leading industry experts. He explained that what initially started out as a 40-page code of conduct was brought down to a concise and manageable 5 steps that is openly accessible to all brands. Young designers, as well as established fashion week regulars, are invited to digitally sign up and commit to taking action. It is straightforward and most importantly, seemingly easy to implement. When I asked Siegel why he felt the need to establish this initiative he explains: “Young designers recognise the responsibility they have. Often they would like to be sustainable, but they don’t know how”. He talks me through some of the problems facing larger brands and questions how young designers would be able to translate and apply these changes to their own business practices. With “Restart Fashion” they are offered a comprehensive starting point. He acknowledges, “Yes, it doesn’t include everything but it’s five super easy 56
steps that you can take; do that and then you can start thinking about the rest.” As we talk about the initiative, he elaborates on one of the key steps which call on designers to oversee and understand each stage within their supply chain: “As soon as they get bigger when they start ordering fabrics, they should still bring in this sensitivity they had when starting out.” This is precisely where big retailers fall flat. It is an issue that is hard to fix when a company is sourcing thousands of lines from hundreds of suppliers in dozens of countries. However, on a smaller scale and with the right guidance from initiatives such as “Restart Fashion” an emerging business is now in a position to grow more responsibly “Scalability is a problem if you are a big brand, but for us it means a lot of people do the same thing and allow a system in which designers can go back to being an artisan again” explains Siegel. The proposal also addresses designer responsibility, highlighting that 80% of a products environmental impact is determined at the design phase. Young designers are encouraged to use this as a positive design opportunity and to accept that “sustainable design” isn’t a separate branch of design but rather that it is one and the same as “good design”. Knowing that in future these young designers will come to play key roles in the industry, I ask Siegel if he feels that this early stage is the most important to influence. “No,” he says, “we need to create a system where sustainable fashion works. At the moment, we don’t allow sustainable fashion to happen, that’s the harsh reality. There are too many people earning a lot of money the way it works at the moment. The whole world works perfectly well, they don’t need sustainable fashion to happen.” This reminds me of something I later hear from Livia Firth, Creative Director of Eco-Age and key speaker at the Summit, “If we didn’t have fast
fashion, we wouldn’t need a summit on sustainability.” For designers to carry out their roles responsibly, it is essentially the whole value system that needs to be reconfigured. He acknowledges that educating the next generation is a crucial part of this:
tices are disrupted. Moreover, with the redistribution of profit margins, the Fast Fashion equation favours the manufacturer. The consumer, within this current business model, is the loser. Siegel refers to it as a “Big rotten system.” He goes on to identify where the disconnect lies:
“ It´s important to start with so many young designers because if they start somehow behaving in one way, they will bring this on and in five years might be the creative directors of big brands or have their own brands.”
There is an authenticity missing. We have lost this love for fashion, for artisanship”. And this is precisely where young designers have an opportunity:
But essentially, he is clear in the idea that a larger change is needed. From an economic standpoint, Fast Fashion retailers are in a comfortable position, with the top two retailers earning over $400 million in net quarterly profits. They produce anywhere from 30-50 trend-driven collections per year, putting enormous pressure on smaller fashion brands to produce more and faster. As a result, brand identity is dissolving, the market is flooded with meaningless short-lead products, and traditional supply chain management prac-
“ People speak about what is the next billion dollar fashion brand, we don’t need that anymore, we need to allow these 320 young Danish designers (showcased by NJAL) to run their business sustainably and we need to allow consumers to fund them.” How is it possible for a system that favours craftsmanship to re-emerge, wonders Siegel, in a market saturated with competition from fast fashion retailers: “If you look at this system you see how wrong some of these big brands are because they don’t allow this to happen.
Photo by Victor Jones
The system favoured by Fast Fashion retailers relies heavily on this disconnect between the consumer and his/her suppliers. With the lure of trends and bargain prices, we are encouraged to ignore the true cost of our consumption. Following the collapse of Rana Plaza in Bangladesh, and the mass protests in Cambodia, consumers are beginning to take responsibility and increasingly demand information about the clothes they buy and the people who made them. We have realised that it is in fact the environment and the workers within the supply chain that pay for the real price of our complacency. Authenticity comes with the territory of responsible purchasing and Siegel notes that it is an integral part of change:
ers have an opportunity but it only works if we all work together.” Leading figures within the fashion industry, as well as consumers, are increasingly accepting responsibility and taking control. Innovative proposals, such as Bruno Pieters’ “Honest by” centres on total transparency, and initiatives such as “Restart Fashion” are being introduced to help guide the industry in the right direction. NOT JUST A LABEL is a leading example. Facilitating the availability of information to designers wishing to develop a more ethical business practice is a vital part of restarting the current system. There are clearly huge shifts that need to be made within the business model of big fashion retailers, but with the smaller production scale of young designers, where the connection between designer and consumer is intimate, and most crucially, where the product is a direct result of a true need to create and communicate, there is a sincerity and optimism eager for change. NOTJUSTALABEL.COM/ALINABRANE
We go on to talk about the current working practices of young designers represented by NJAL: “The only thing in their minds is creativity and expressing themselves. Most of our pieces are not commercially viable, you could not make 50,000. In that way they are already sustainable. It is limited production and it doesn’t get shipped twice around the world, it goes from the designer directly to the customer. It’s almost like going back 500 years where consumers exchanged goods with the maker.”
“They (the consumers) would like to have something they love again.” For Siegel, this translates as a return to craftsmanship and calls for a revaluing of artisan expertise built up over hundreds of years. Siegel illustrates a rare scenario that is far removed from the speed of multi-billion dollar franchises: “ Fifty years ago you could be a carpenter or a designer and make a healthy turnover to feed a family and run a business. We have now designers, with thanks to our platform, who say: I wake up in the morning and go to bed at night and in between I do what I love, I make enough money to do what I love. I think we have completely lost that. Young design58
RESTART FASHION: FIVE EASY STEPS TO SUSTAINABILITY WE NEED SUSTAINABLE FASHION, AND WORDS ARE NO LONGER ENOUGH.
I N S TA G R A M