Designing for empathy. Upcycling and downcycling

Hello everyone, this is the second part of my post regarding the book A practical guide to sustainable fashion by Alison Gwilt.

I found some interesting topics such as textile recycling, upcycling and Closed-loops, which are important for the understanding of some aspects of sustainability in fashion.

While the designer is focused on sustainable strategies towards the design and production, it can be difficult to focus on the use and disposal stages of a garment’s life cycle. That is why a closed-loop system of production is important.

What is a closed-loop system?

A closed loop system of production provides an opportunity to reuse the materials of a product that has come to the end of its useful life. The materials are either considered compostable or are recycled into new products, typically of the same variety as the original product.

Between the clothing item and the wearer, there is an empathetic relationship, where the wearer will have to  provide some maintenance actions in order to provide a longer life to the item.

The understanding of this relationship is essential for the designer. This way, the designer can assess which atributes are desired and which are inconsiderable, in order to design a specific garment with unique characteristics, increasing its use.

 

As a designer it is essential to do a field test, in order to understand what people want from their clothing, gathering information for future collections and creating design for empathy.

Besides the selection of techniques, is also important the selection of fabrics and materials. The fabrics selected should have minimal impact (dying and bleaching) and can potentially display its distinctive natural fibre.

 

FAIRTRADE logo

Fair Trade?

Fair trade aspire to support developing communities by paying fair prices for their services while reinvesting profit back to the community.

If you see a cotton that has the FAIRTRADE logo it means farmers are receiving a fair price for their cotton. In relation with organic cotton, there are companies who support designers and help monitoring sustainable practices, such as the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) or the Soil Association.

Designers can always request help from fabric specialists and yarn suppliers, ethical manufacturers and sustainable organisations with the sourcing process.

 

Which fabrics can be recycled?

The possibilities of recycling a fabric increase if that fabric contains an uncontaminated mono-material (single fibre type). The recycling of fabrics contaminated with unsuitable fibres or treatments can reduced the value of the material, being called ‘downcycled’.

By using mono-materials the designer can use other techniques in order to change the visual aspect without corrupt the fibre, such as laser cutting or needle-punching.

This fibres can successfully accomplish being part closed-loop systems.

 

Zero-waste techniques

In pattern-making and toiling phase the fabric waste is common, however it is possible to apply some techniques ir order to avoid it.

  1. draping – approach used in the works of the couturier Madeleine Vionnet
  2. directly weaving the pieces of a garment into the correct size and shape
  3. designer needs to move confidently through the three-dimensional form and the two-dimensional pattern making

 

Upcycling

What it is? Its the technique of upgrading or adding value to a product that was discarded in the past. By upcycling it is possible to increase the value of the garment and prolonging its life.

Sometimes by recycling, some materials need to go through processes that can possible damage the initial value of the fibres (downcycling).

By doing upcycling, the designer can test his creativity, being able to do unique pieces without damaging or using extra fabrics. However, upcycling can require extra time and patience by cleaning up cycled pieces or by deconstruct them.

 

 

Textile recycling

What happens? Fibres are separated by chemical or mechanical processes. This fibres can be remanufactured and used in several different contexts, however by recycling, the original value of the fibre has been downgraded.

 

Pictures by me in Praia do Guincho, Portugal.

 

Clothing supply chain: rethinking design

This post is based on the reading of the book A practical guide to sustainable fashion by Gwilt, Alison.

This book is enriched with valuable information for designers who wish to learn how to apply sustainability and ethical values on their creations, however, as a non-designer myself, I found it really interesting. It is filled with key issues regarding the production and disposal of clothing, talking about eco-friendly fashion designers and companies. It also has some exercises that help motivate us to research, creating a cycle map of a fashion item analysing the environmental and social impacts.

So…should we rethink fashion design?

The fashion industry has been developing, however the process involves a general set of steps and stages known as ‘the supply chain’, which include: design, sample-making, selection, manufacturing and distribution.

The role of the fashion designer is essential within creation and development, controlling and making decisions towards a desirable product.

The production and distribution of clothing has a large impact environmentally and socially, attached with ethical and sustainable concerns.

up cycling
can our fashion items be part of a closed-loop system?

Consumerism and fast fashion are the main reason for the actual obsession in bringing runway trends to the high street as fast as possible, which might cause impacts in the supply chain. The fashion network of the supply chain is global, involving a large amount of people, countries and laws/legislations.

Meanwhile, the consumption of fashion has been increasing. The ‘use phase’ is the stage when the customer buys an item and its consequent life cycle from there on. The use phase includes wearing, washing, drying, storing, alterations and repairing. Studies affirm that the majority of the environmental impacts associated with clothing are created during the use phase, due to the laundering process which implies the use of water, chemicals and energy.

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The disposal of garments is increasing
Think well all the options, before the disposal of a clothing item: can it be repaired? Can you transform it? Should you donate it to someone?

It is possible to think that an item could be recycled, donated to someone or disposed into a landfill. For this reason Sustainable Fashion is important and with that, a sustainable designer who understands the impacts of our daily clothing.

In nowadays, is essential to evolve the significance of eco design and accept new contemporary methods that can be used throughout the supply chain, and cause less impact on the use phase.

Eco or green design attempts to avoid the environmental impacts that are associated with a garment during its life cycle. The aim is to prevent, reduce or eliminate impacts that may pollute, destroy or reduce the planet’s natural resources.

Sustainable design embraces three key areas: society, environment and economy, becoming the main focus of the designers to manage the three at the same time.

This way, sustainable fashion focuses on the life cycle of a garment and on its particular supply chain.

 

Fashion supply chain
Social and environmental impacts along the clothing supply chain. Made by me, inspired by “A practical guide to sustainable fashion”

 

The fashion industry is facing issues regarding social and ethical affairs related with fast fashion, however the future of fashion can change if designers and related companies work together, towards a green revolution: sourcing appropriate fabrics (which can be easily recycle, not demanding too much treatment or which don’t harm innocent animal lives), avoid the adoption of harmful chemicals on the production and administer reasonable and fair wages and work conditions to the employees.

If you are a designer and you are thinking in making improvements and becoming more sustainable within your creations, these are the steps to take:

  1. map a life cycle of the product to be developed;
  2. identify the environmental and social impacts of your product;
  3. evaluate the results of  the 1st and 2nd steps;
  4. engage with sustainable strategies which can eliminate negative impacts from the garment’s life cycle.

life cycle of a garment

by mapping a life cycle, a designer can easily understand and evaluate sustainable actions of the designs and assess improvements on the process. Engaging with a strategy helps focusing towards aims and objectives.

Above are some strategies given by A practical guide to sustainable fashion:

  • Minimizing the consumption of resources
  • Choosing low-impact processes and resources
  • Improving production techniques
  • Improving distribution systems
  • Reducing the impacts created during use
  • Improving the garment’s lifetime
  • Improving the use of end-of-life systems

 

There is also the economic component where the designer is focused on trends and market targets, however it is possible to apply sustainable strategies, during the development of the production of a collection.

Pictures by me in Praia do Guincho, Portugal.

 

 

Lust: Fashion Editorial regarding animal testing

New products are always emerging and with that, the pressure of having the safety guidelines followed. Unfortunately these guidelines still include animal tests.

Testing cosmetic products and their ingredients on animals was banned in the UK in 1998.

The European Commission on 11 September 2013 implemented the testing ban, which prohibits the test of finished cosmetic products on animals, adding to the testing ban on cosmetic ingredients established since 11 March 2009. On the same date, the marketing ban was applied, establishing the prohibition to market finished cosmetic products and ingredients in the EU which were tested on animals.  The legislation is part of EU Regulation 1223/2009 (Cosmetics Regulation).

In the past China did not approve any cosmetics unless it was tested on animals first. Fortunately  by July 2014 the law was abolished and other alternatives to animal testing are in process.

Close up
flour and raspberry jam were used as makeup

 

During my research I contacted Cruelty Free International and Peta.

Cruelty Free International is a limited company which gives advice  and expert opinion to companies, media and government. This organisation is active for 100 years helping fighting animal testing by creating political alliances, companies research and by spreading the message throught social media.

Leaping Bunny is the only international recognised certification for cosmetics and household products. Leaping Bunny is a Cruelty Free International program which audits a company’s entire supply-chain and monitors the system to check if companies meet their strict criteria.

To become Leaping Bunny certified companies must guarantee that no animal testing takes place on their finished products. This includes the ingredients these products are made up of, at all stages of product development by the company, its laboratories, manufacturers and ingredients suppliers -after a fixed cut-off date.

Peta also have a cruelty-free certification called Beauty Without Bunnies Program. Companies on PETA’s cruelty-free company list have the option to license PETA’s cruelty-free bunny logo but it is not mandatory. PETA’s online “Do Test” and “Don’t Test” lists are updated frequently to reflect additions or deletions.

Lust

 

Modern science is replacing last century’s animal tests with KINDER, FASTER, BETTER tools for consumer safety.

Humane Society International

Animal testing is still legal in almost 80% of the world and progress is necessary, in order to stop this cruelty.

Please join the #becrueltyfree the largest movement against animal testing, helping thousands of animals to avoid torture and pain.

 

Photography Ieva Lasmane (@lasmaneieva)

Styling Green Taja (@taja_asiul)

Mua QiuYi He (@qyeehe)

Model Alise Grinfelde

Clothes: Traid

 

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This beautiful cat is Rafiki. During the shoot he was safe, exploring everything and eating a lot of snacks.

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Rafiki enjoyed the  raspberry jam

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fashion Editorial: Testing & Experimentation

Second part of my photo shoot “Fuchsine”

Inside the world of ‘Fast Fashion’, a term coined by retailers to encapsulate how trends can quickly move from the catwalk to the consumer’s hands, the manufacturing is quick and cheap and consumers can easily take advantage of affordable collections in shops like H&M and Zara, and get involved in current fashion crazes.

In this way consumers, don’t get as much involved with fashion sustainability and therefore it does not constitute part of their social identity, rather the opposite. There is a greater need to discuss sustainable consumption so more people can begin to identify with it.  We as consumers should adopt new fashion habits and broaden our knowledge regarding how our clothes are made and where they came from.

The harvest methods, the cultivation, the distribution, and the manufacturing are big processes which involve several people and are factors which should be thoroughly followed by international standards controls.

The production of fibres and textiles is increasing, with cotton and polyester dominating the fashion market with large amounts of water and energy used in the production process.

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The title of the photo shoot I previously published, derives from the  synthetic magenta dye, fuchsine.

This dye does not occur in the nature and is used mainly as a textile dye . It has a green appearance but it becomes magenta after dissolved in water.

This dye created controversy as it showed that there is a high risk of contracting bladder cancer among the men who worked in the manufacturing. Because our theme is regarding wastewater pollution by textile fabrics, the process of dying is the main cause for the changing colour of the natural resources. 

Fuchsine.jpgfuchsine

A’Marie and Mabi Swimwear were the selected brands for this editorial.

A’Marie uses natural and manmade materials and its manufactured in accordance with the highest European environmental standards. The  sustainable fabrics used in the clothes are Alcantara, Micromodal and Tencel.

fabrics.jpg

fabrics I
A’Marie Clothes

 

Mabi Swimwear is a sustainable brand made in Brazil and based in London.

This brand is part of the brazilian organization Green Initiative (Iniciativa Verde), which helps deforestation in Brazil.

Green Initiative and Friend of Forest (Amigo da Floresta) are projects with the aim of  contributing to the improvement of biodiversity, water and air quality by calculating the carbon emissions of companies and replanting trees in the Brazilian Forest.

swuimsuit
Swimsuit Mabi Swimwear

 

Eco-friendly and Ethical fashion should be the rule by 2017 and unfortunately there is still a lot to fight for, for the sake of the workers, animals, environment and for our health as well.

Numerous organisations and campaigns are doing their best to promote their core values, defending nature and advocating human rights.

I will be posting more fashion editorials with sustainable brands/designers, if however, you know any sustainable brands available in UK which I could collaborate with, please contact me.

Meanwhile enjoy some pictures of the shoot!

 

Photography Ieva Lasmane (@lasmaneieva)

Styling Green Taja (@taja_asiul)

Mua & Model QiuYi He (@qyeehe)

Brands: A’Marie & Mabi Swimwear ( Ethical and sustainable brands)

Fashion Editorial : fuchsine

 This editorial is regarding  water pollution by industrial fashion facilities, through wastewater discharge. This issue is affecting biologic habitats as well threatening the lives of thousand of animals and humans.

Water is the fundamental basis for life and poisoning it can taint all Planet’s life.

Urgent action should be put in practice in order to prevent more irreversible environmental and health consequences.

Water discharge by industrial facilities is not a sustainable or ethical action! Awareness and consequent action are essential to this unsustainable and non ethical issue!

17-20% of water pollution comes from fashion industrial facilities where it is used in several processes of treatment and deying textiles.

Over 8000 chemicals are used in the process of manufacturing clothes, where the majority will later be dumped in fresh water resources.

Image 1
A’Marie Brand

Domestic handwashing of clothing also causes an impact to the overall water quality.

Wastewater treatment plants can’t process all the hazardous water pollutants resulting in longlasting irreversible environmental and health issues.

In 2011 Greenpeace started a programm called Detox Campaign, exposing the relation between fashion brands, suppliers and water pollution. Consequently it generating controversy, culminating in a Detox Fashion Manifesto which was signed  by designers, bloggers and models.

Meanwhile in China, suppliers are forced to regulate wastewater pollution by their factories as textile production is one of the more pollutent in China.

Image 2
A’Marie Brand

Fortunately by 2015 the government made it a criminal act to pollute, however there is still a long journey to increase the environmental footprint. The price to recycle wastewater is still very high for some companies, which contributes to the violation of pollution standards in China.

Also, citarum river, in Indonesia, is one of the most polluted rivers in the world due to the amount of factories nearby. No care was taken and now the river contains highs amounts of arsenic, mercury and other toxins that can cause the burning of human skin and the death of the aquatic life.

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Brighton cliffs

Fuchsine Editorial was shot with purple film which shifts colors: Blue becomes green, green becomes purple, pink becomes yellow. Red tones stay red, which keeps natural skin color quite natural. This way the color change was included as comparison to the rivers color change by the textile factories.

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Fuchsine
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Mabi Swimwear Brand
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Fuchsine

Photography Ieva Lasmane (@lasmaneieva)

Styling Green Taja (@taja_asiul)

Mua & Model QiuYi He (@qyeehe)

Brands: A’Marie & Mabi Swimwear ( Ethical and sustainable brands)

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