20 Nov 2017

Three events on fashion, design and sustainability

Busy times this semester! I've been attending some events related to this research.

On the 9th and 10th of October I traveled to Aalto University in Helsinki to attend the Seminar Sustainable Fashion in a Circular Economy and the Doctoral Colloquium in Sustainable Fashion organised by Kirsi Niinimaki. The colloquium was a great opportunity to meet international peers and understand different research approaches in sustainable fashion at a doctoral level. There were practice-based design researchers, anthropologists, economists, etc. Great chance to comment on and be aware of each other's work. I shared and overview of my PhD with doctoral candidates and professors and got good feedback. Some participants found my findings important and surprising.

The seminar hosted interesting talks. Sarah Han's insights on UK's textile waste management and Ruari Mahon's branding and retail cases focusing on sustainable values were particularly relevant and new to me. From a design perspective, Ulla Ræbild's insights on How to Design Garments for a Subscription Service were also refreshing. The activity of the Sustainable Fashion research group, led by Kirsi Niinimaki is impressive. Finland is definitely in front of the Netherlands in terms of research in sustainable fashion. Probably due to the institutional context of fashion design education (University rather than Applied Sciences University level, with a longer tradition in research).

On the 20th October Amsterdam Fashion Institute and Circle Economy organised a new edition of their Beyond Green event. This time it took place at the headquarters of the company HEMA in Amsterdam Noord. The most interesting part of this event is that students work on actual sustainability challenges proposed by industry. Moreover, the morning hosted speakers (mainly from industry) on fashion and sustainability. Good event for the general public. My researcher head sometimes misses more in-depth content is this kind of events, but it's a great inspiration for those with a hands-on approach. The organisation and storytelling skills of Gwen Cunningham surprise me over and over again.

Finally, on the 8th, 9th and 10th of November I participated in the Product Lifetimes and the Environment (PLATE) in Delft. This was one of the best conferences I've attended. With around 150 attendees, it really felt like a community of like-minded people doing relevant research work. Surprisingly, there was a lot of research on clothing. The event included a PhD-only session for networking (photo), keynote speakers including the inaugural talk of Prof. Ruud Balkenende at TU Delft and dozens of article presentations. I presented the article "Reducing clothing production volumes by design: a critical review of sustainable fashion strategies", co-authored with Balkenende. I got great comments on the article and the results of the clothing mountain project, which I sneaked briefly in the presentation.