Fashion and Sustainable Design

With clothing design both fashion and function come together. In recent years there has also been a focus on sustainability in the fashion industry which goes way beyond just using organic cotton fabric instead of conventional cotton or manmade fabrics. Sustainable design is the term that is used to describe the philosophy of designing objects to comply with the principles of ecological, social and economic sustainability.Whilst in some ways fashion contradicts sustainability because the very nature of following constantly changing trends and fashions can be wasteful and also create much waste, there are some ways that fashion and sustainability can go together. Designers are implementing exciting new initiatives to help reduce the impact of clothing on the environment whilst still making it beautiful to look at and functional to wear.The most innovative designs turn the sustainable features of a piece of clothing into the very thing that makes it desirable, fashionable or stylish. An example of this is the beautiful fabrics that are recycled into new pieces of clothing. It is the vintage nature of the fabrics that make the clothing so beautiful. Recently Christopher Raeburn has used surplus military parachute silk to make very on trend pieces of clothing. There are also various designers pioneering methods to reduce waste in the fashion industry including innovative new pattern cutting techniques which give the garment a characteristic look.The use of sustainable fabrics is also a key part of sustainable fashion design. There are a number of different sustainable fabrics to choose from each having its own unique look, feel and properties. Bamboo is super soft, warm and comfortable and has been likened to cashmere that drapes like silk; it is perfect for leisure wear and also for draping. Designers are also constantly coming up with new materials that look great and are also good for the environment. Innovative dying techniques and use of natural coloured fabrics have also been used to create beautiful designs.Sustainability is not just about what the clothing is made of though. It is about the overall and lifecycle of the product. How long will it last and when it reaches the end of its life can it be easily disposed of? Biodegradable materials are key to reducing waste in the fashion industry but there are also more interesting projects happening for example where shoes can be deconstructed at the end of their useful life and some parts recycled. Any clothing, shoes or accessories can be made more sustainable by designing them to last and for maximum usage. This can include classic and versatile styles that won’t go out of fashion quickly and multitasking pieces of clothing that can be worn in a number of different ways.Sustainable design is not just about one factor or aspect of clothing that reduces the impact of a piece of clothing on the environment. It is about designing a piece of clothing that takes into account all aspects of the garment from design to sourcing of materials to sale of the product and beyond. In order to be truly sustainable designers also need to take into account social and economic factors. By embracing this philosophy whilst still ensuring beauty and functionality of the clothing, designers are helping to make the fashion industry more sustainable.

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