As part of the ‘Circular Design Speeds’ project, the limits of ‘fast’ and ‘slow’ fashion were pushed at a recent exhibition by testing new concepts for sustainable design. Circular Design Speeds took a unique systemic approach, showcasing what could be accomplished using existing value chains as well as what the future of sustainable fashion holds. The Circular Design Speeds project is an outcome of Mistra Future Fashion’s ambition to drive systemic change in facilitating the collaboration between design researchers at University of the Arts London and industry insight from Filippa K.
The exhibition ‘Disrupting Patterns: Designing for Circular Speeds’ in London featured both conceptual and commercial garments produced by Filippa K made from a variety of materials and for varying degrees of longevity. On display were exploratory prototypes, as well as commercial garments produced by industry partner Filippa K using existing value chains. In addition, research results on innovative materials, consumer acceptance, composting studies and Life Cycle Assessments were presented.
On the opposite side of the spectrum the Fast-Forward concept, developed by proffesor Kay Politowicz and Dr. Kate Goldsworthy, explored alternative modes of production and use for a sustainable ‘fast-fashion’ application. By implementing research into existing value chains, Filippa K was able to produce a coat that is 100 per cent recycled and recyclable, as well as a concept dress that is 100 per cent bio-based and biodegradable. With a focus on products’ length of use and maximising fabric value retention, Filippa K are dedicated to becoming fully circular by 2030.
“Being part of the fashion industry comes with many challenges, especially when considering the fact that we are the second most polluting industry after oil. Our industry needs to change and we believe adapting to circular models, like nature’s ecosystem, is one important solution. We want to be able to offer beautiful clothing and to make business within the planetary boundaries,” Elin Larsson, Sustainability Director, Filippa K. To validate the design research presented, a Life Cycle Assessment was performed on the prototypes. Mistra Future Fashion affiliated Dr Greg Peters, Chalmers University of Technology, together with additional LCA Researchers at Rise, conclude that the production of fibres and fabrics are the main processes impacting the environment during the garment life cycles. Therefore, to extend the lifetime of existing garments and design for re-use, as done in the Service Shirt, is indeed the superior alternative compared to a reference garment.
“Compared with garments of the same mass, the extended life garments represent a large improvement in environmental performance over the reference garments, outperforming the reference garments in all effect categories. This superiority is primarily a consequence of avoiding garment production via reprinting and reassembly of the initial garment to extend its useful life,” Peters said.
“Another way to circumvent the impacts of fast fashion is to develop materials with considerably lower impacts during production, and which also avoid the barriers to recycling faced by conventional garments. Instead of hinder consumers from buying new, the act of acquiring a new garment could in fact be sustainable,” Peters added. The paper-based short life garments considered in this assessment show considerable impact savings when compare to the benchmark garment.