A couple of weeks ago the RSA hosted “Designing the Future of Fashion” in their Great Room, aptly named because the topic of discussion was one of great ideas. The focus being sustainability, the circular economy and how fashion can become circular.
The message: the mindset of the industry needs to change. Industry focus is currently on selling products because that is how money is made. These sales come at a cost to the environment. We were told that every second a truckload of clothes is sent to landfill or burned.
The solution: make fashion circular. By moving to a circular economy model the industry can continue to profit without needing to sell products at its current rate. As Elodie Rouseelot of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation noted, the key to this is to remember that the fashion industry offers people a chance to feel beautiful, confident and express themselves. This process can be monetised in ways other than the sale of products.
Is this the future? The speakers speculated on how the high street might look if fashion was circular: from a rise in repair shops, rental shops and second hand shops to changes in shops selling new products where the focus would be on the experience rather than the transaction, there would be less of a focus on trends and all options would be sustainable; thus shifting the onus to make sustainable choices from the consumer to the maker.
For more thoughts on circular fashion take a look at the video recording of the event and our other posts such as is it time to embrace online resale platforms?
Our clothes are some of our most treasured possessions: they keep us warm, dry and protected; they help us feel comfortable, to fit in and show affiliation, or to stand out and show difference. However, the global fashion industry is fraught with problems, from waste to water pollution, problems which cannot be fixed with tweaks to the current system. Instead we need a new future for fashion, and we need design skills to help make that change.