12 Mar 2010

OU aids a Fashion Revolution with Considerate Design

Sustainability in fashion is much debated and there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution. Researchers at the Centre for Fashion Science at London College of Fashion and The Open University are one step closer to defining what it is to be sustainable to help the fashion industry revolutionise the way it designs through a new model of Considerate Design.

Clothes are well travelled commodities with brief lives, never before has fashion been so fast and so disposable, a situation that cannot be sustained. Despite being one of the most complex supply chains in modern manufacturing, fashion has proved itself to be highly responsive to the need for change and has the potential to move quickly towards becoming one of the worlds most ecologically aware and transparent industries – it just needs some help getting there.

The Considerate Design development team is led by Professor Sandy Black, Director of the Centre for Fashion Science at London College of Fashion in collaboration with Dr Claudia Eckert of The Open University, and Dr David Wynn of the Engineering Design Centre, Cambridge University with expert help from fashion and materials researchers at London College of Fashion. Considerate Design makes sustainability accessible to fashion designers, empowering them to make informed decisions as part of their design process. It examines new methods of manufacturing for personalised fashion with long lasting appeal to consumers, aiming to reduce consumption and enhance delight.

It has done this by recognising the power of the designer to influence the end product by developing a tool kit. The Considerate Design approach enables the designer to visualise the potential environmental footprint of their product in relation to factors such as materials, method of manufacturing and disposal using a simple visual tool. Through making better design decisions the designer is able to edit out the ‘bad choices’ for the consumer before the product even hits the shelves.

One of the strengths of Considerate Design has been the collaboration between subjects groups that rarely work together. By fusing fashion, science and engineering Considerate Design has developed new ways of creating personalised fashion products. Through ‘process modelling,’ (developed by the Cambridge University Engineering Design Centre) as used in the British aerospace industry, designers of bespoke fashion products can predict the real cost of their design, time and labour.

Dr Claudia Eckert, Senior Lecturer in Design at The Open University said: "By using a design modelling tool, we can ensure that designers are in control of their processes when offering customisation of their designs. Designers are often under pressure to offer designs at a particular price, and because of the time investment customisation requires, they can end up making no profit on commissions. Personalisation needs to be economically viable for both the producer and customers and by applying engineering techniques like design modelling, designers will be able to better assess the risk associated with customisation."

Three case-studies (detailed below) bring the research alive and examine the design processes behind producing a considerate product that puts the individual, the environment and the entire life cycle of the product at the forefront. Each item focuses on reducing waste, using locally sourced and manufactured raw materials (less fashion miles), utilising new technology and bespoke products tailored to the individual which increases the life span of the product and promotes the ethos of buying less but buying better:

• Knit to Fit® (Prof. Sandy Black and Dr. Penelope Watkins) Seamless garment knitting for comfort and personalised fit utilising advanced knitting technology.
• Bespoke Bags (Dr. Frances Geesin and Steven Harkin) Luxury bespoke functional bags using novel materials and ergonomically designed to fit the body.
• Evolving Textiles (Philip Delamore and industry partners Freedom Of Creation, Complex Matters and EOS with Warwick University) Rapid 3D manufacturing for textile like structures which conform to the body.

To see first hand how Considerate Design can revolutionise the fashion industry, please join us for a breakfast briefing on Thursday 25 March 2010 from 9.30am at London College of Fashion.

For further information or to attend the event, please contact Rebecca Munro, Media Relations Manager at London College of Fashion (details right)

Editor's Notes
Considerate Design for Personalised Fashion
The Considerate Design for Personalised Fashion project is part of the Designing for the 21st Century initiative jointly funded by the UK research councils AHRC (Arts and Humanities) and EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences). The Considerate Design development team is led by Prof Sandy Black, director of the Centre for Fashion Science at LCF in collaboration with Dr Claudia Eckert of The Open University, and Dr David Wynn of the Engineering Design Centre, Cambridge University.

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