Design + Sustainability = Fashion: Sustainable Design Praxis in Fashion

By Desiree Smal.

Published by The International Journal of Designed Objects

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The purpose of this paper is to explore two concepts, namely design and sustainability and then to discuss the impact these have on fashion. Design, for the purpose of this argument, is regarded as a distinct body of knowledge or discipline with its own theories, practices and areas of research. In this sense, design is responsive to cultural, environmental, socio-economic and technological imperatives. Sustainability is derived from the concept 'to sustain', meaning that it is durable, socially valid and environmentally and economically viable. Fashion, on the other hand, is driven by desire and its objective is to constantly move ahead with new ideas and styles and, therefore, revolves around change. In a consumption-based culture of fast-moving fashion, evolving new trends and creating market-satisfying products, the following question needs to be asked: Is it is even meaningful to start a conversation about sustainable fashion design? Kate Fletcher (2008 xii), in her book “Sustainable Fashion & Textiles – Design Journeys,” addresses this issue by asserting: "..the challenge of sustainability – that is, of integrating human well-being and natural integrity – is such that we can’t go on as before. Business as usual or, more to the point, fashion as usual, is not an option. So what should we do instead?" This paper is an attempt to tackle these issues and questions.

Keywords: Design, Sustainability, Fashion, Fashion Design Praxis

The International Journal of Designed Objects, Volume 6, Issue 3, pp.41-47. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 335.910KB).

Desiree Smal

Head, Department of Fashion Design, Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa

Desiree Smal currently heads the department of fashion design at the University of Johannesburg (UJ) and has been involved with fashion design education for the past 23 years. Her current research interest is in Fashion Design and, in particular, sustainable design and eco-design within the fashion industry on a global and national level. Her current PhD study, DTech: Design (Fashion) is focused in this area. In addition, she is passionate in developing the discourse in the discipline of fashion design in South Africa, as well as how the above manifests in design education.