William McDonough talks ‘cradle to cradle’ design theory in this TED talk.
“I think we have a design problem.”
Work & Research
William McDonough talks ‘cradle to cradle’ design theory in this TED talk.
“I think we have a design problem.”
The National Labor Committee released a report last week citing sweatshop conditions in a Guatemalan factory manufacturing clothing for Briggs New York (80%) and Lane Bryant (remaining 20%) clothing.
If you don’t want to read the full article, here is the abstract:
“Young Mayan women sew Briggs New York and Lane Bryant clothing under abusive and illegal sweatshop conditions at the Nicotex factory outside Guatemala City. Women in the U.S. are unknowingly purchasing clothing made by other women who are being exploited.
All overtime at the Nicotex factory is mandatory, and 14 2/3-hour shifts, from 7:00 a.m. to 9:40 p.m. including six hours of overtime, are uncommon. The women are routinely at the factory up to 72 hours, forced to toil 20 to 25 hours of overtime. Women unable to remain for overtime work, even if they have family emergencies, are fired. The workers are allowed just 10.2 minutes to sew each Briggs New York blouse for which they are paid 19 ½ cents. The women and their families are trapped in extreme poverty, earning just 76 cents to $1.15 an hour, which comes nowhere close to meeting even their most basic subsistence level needs.
Workers and their children are cheated of health and maternity care, including paid maternity leave, which they paid for and is supposed to be guaranteed under Guatemalan law. Workers are also robbed of their vacation and severance pay and are shortchanged of their legal bonuses.
For those of you who don’t know who Charles Kernaghan is, he is “The Man Who Made Kathy Lee Cry”. He also heads the National Labor Committee. Here’s a video of him discussing the science of exploitation and his work with the NLC from the film The Corporation.
I have been obsessed with U.K. designer Katharine Hamnett for a long time. In fact, it was her slogan t-shirts that first showed me that there was opportunity to transform this industry; she is the quintessential example of a pissed off designer who refuses to stand for the high human cost of fashion. She is dedicated to the promotion of organic cotton, and runs a strong campaign against the conventional ‘white gold’:
“Conventional cotton represents 10% of world agriculture and uses 25% of the world’s pesticides.
100 million conventional cotton farmers, from Russia to South Africa, are living in conditions of abject poverty and near starvation.
Conventional cotton subsidies funded by American taxpayers are causing poverty in the developing world as they lower the world price for cotton. (Americans are the only ones that can change this by writing to their Congress people and telling them they insist on organic cotton clothing.)
20,000 people die every year from accidental pesticide poisoning in conventional cotton agriculture (World Health Organisation). Death by starvation is alarmingly prevalent and 200,000 cotton farmers commit suicide annually due to spiralling debts incurred from buying pesticides. A further 1,000,000 people a year suffer from long-term pesticide poisoning (Pesticide Action Network).
However, if farmers grow cotton organically and can sell it as such, this dire situation is reversed.
By growing organically, farmers get a 50% increase in their income – due to a 40% reduction in costs – and the 20% premium they receive for producing organic cotton allows them to feed, clothe, educate and provide healthcare for their children.
Organic cotton helps farmers trade their way out of poverty. It’s the only formula for survival in the cotton sector in the developing world.”
(Katharine Hamnett, Campaigns: Organic Cotton)
Another company that offers slogan t-shirts is American Apparel. I have been familiar with their ‘Legalize L.A.’ campaign shirt, but only recently came across their ‘Legalize Gay’ slogan t-shirt. The American Apparel slogan t-shirt wants you to promote and support the repeal of prop 8.
It got me thinking. For me, these slogan shirts represent the convergence of fashion and politics in a clear and positive way; they offer the consumer a sense of empowerment, and send a clear message of support. But what do you think?
Two very different questions….
Below is my tweet along for Compostmodern09, which took place on Sat. Feb 21st 09. This event was greatly inspiring, and I will be writing a post soon on the over all themes of the conference and where the convergence into sustainable fashion design comes into play. Stay tuned for that post (and some images as well).
· excited to be at #cm09
· #cm09 only 5000 days left. take it as fact.
· #cm09 Allan Chochinov ten rules applicable to fashion design.
· Michel Gelobler: design through the lens of soul and policy coming up, #cm09
· wonderment being made plain/plain being made wonderment cm#09
· Michel Gelobler certainty/worry/sorrow/hope #cm09
· need to bend the Al Gore curve #cm09
· Michel Gelobter: what we have, what we are using, need to establish equilibrium looking to connect product to solution. #cm09
· #cm09 we own the solution not the problem, Michel Gelobter
· Michel Gelobter #cm09 further mention of the design acccord http://tinyurl.com/b5yzl4
· Saul Griffith howtoons http://www.howtoons.com/ #cm09
· Saul Griffith: 2008, the year of ‘peak waste’ #cm09
Saul Griffith: need to re-design everything. make it small, fish shaped,slow. need a new soundtrack, font, aesthetic. need a bob dylan.#cm09
· Saul Griffith: we need an heirloom culture #cm09
· Saul Griffith: I’m an earth fucker and so are you, #cm09
· Saul Griffith: http://www.wattzon.com/ #cm09
· Saul Griffith: soon to be born child going to kick ninja ass #cm09
· Saul Griffith: the planet is the new design client. #cm09
· HR + PR does not equal CSR
· Emily Pilloton #cm09 1. what>how (sustainability=human+environment)
· Emily Pilloton #cm09 2. the other 90% is next door (local+global)
· Emily Pilloton #cm09 3. always bring pom-poms (and a picket signs)
· Emily Pilloton #cm09 4. scalable systems, not stuff (take the product out of product design)
· Emily Pilloton #cm09 5. 2 (thousand) heads are better than one (the more the merrier)
· Emily Pilloton #cm09 6. more cattle, less hat (stop talking and just do it)
· whats the opportunity for graphic design, asks Makower..needs to play a bigger role.
· Emily Pilloton #cm09 started project H with 400$ in her bank
· take the poll http://tinyurl.com/coebq5
· Watching Pam Dorr short film “Housing Hope”
· John Bielenberg and Pam Dorr #cm09 spoke on Project M, and some amazing housing projects.
· John Bielenberg wants you to think “wrong” so you can find solutions. Inspired by Sambo rural studios and a beautiful mind.
· John Bielenberg #cm09, breakthroughs happen in your late 20’s-he is inspired by grad/students.
· #cm09 project M: think wrong http://www.projectmlab.com/
· #cm09 project H http://www.projecthdesign.com/
· all speakers at #cm09 stress the importance of serendipity in the process
· Dawn Danby #cm09 takes an interdisciplinary perspective on responsible design
· Dawn Danby #cm09 concerned with the small size of sustainable design social network
· Dawn Danby #cm09 asks “are we not educating our designers correctly?” this is my research question (fashion designers)
· Dawn Danby #cm09 “1. be cool w/ paradox 2. learn the local language 3. reconsider work worth doing 4. YOUR CLIENT IS THE PLANET”
· Dawn Danby #cm09 talking: sustainability is not a communist plot…semantics are crucial here. **YES!**
· Dawn Danby #cm09 designers are looking for direction-but they still need to understand the numbers in product lifecycle analysis
· Dawn Danby-if your client is the planet…then it’s on you to figure out how to solve the problems that weve got and how to pay for it
· Dawn Danby #cm09 “we need to get rid of our specialness” and open it up to others, interdisciplinary partnerships
· Nathan Shedroff #cm09 is about to tell us what we can do Monday morning, when we wake up at work with all of this.
· Nathan Shedroff #cm09 conservative = conservation start the ‘conservative’ movement with the actual definition
· Nathan Shedroff #cm09 don’t use green… use blue… it comes off more effective in business (without being too ‘environmental’)
· Nathan Shedroff #cm09 OH… and use the work capital *this business advice is awesome*
· Nathan Shedroff #cm09 use some sustainable frameworks: 1. lifecycle analysis
· 2. natural capitalism (eco- efficiency)..
· 3. cradle to cradle
· 4. “natural step” (trademarked)
· 5. biomimicry
· (the point here is that these frameworks are all incomplete…they do not cover social, financial and environmental)
· 6. Datschefski’s “Total Beauty”
· 7. social return on investment (SROI)*very difficult to quantify*
· 8. (last one) sustainability helix
· Nathan Shedroff #cm09 wants you to bring the frameworks together for a good place to start..overlap them to cover all ground
· Nathan Shedroff #cm09 wants you to design for use be the ‘apple’ and lead the way the challenge is on your compeditor will do it if you dont
Nathan Shedroff #cm09 wants you to design for dematerialization (all the way back) the whole lifecycle
· Nathan Shedroff #cm09 wants you to think about material substitution. **in the context of fibre (textiles) diversify and substitute**
· Nathan Shedroff #cm09 wants you to think local, to decrease transport. not always a good idea though.
· transmaterialization, Nathan Shedroff #cm09, and informationalization, are more sustainable (still have impact)
· Nathan Shedroff #cm09: next, design for durability (did i miss one? oops)
· design with multifuction in mind, design for reuse: Nathan Shedroff #cm09
· design for disassembly (Rickshaw zero bag example) http://www.rickshawbags.com/#
· Nathan Shedroff #cm09: redesign the system (Curitiba, Brazil, example)
· Nathan Shedroff #cm09 wants us to find new models, economic models suck (ex. GDP and GPI measurements)
· Nathan Shedroff #cm09 said DONT USE PVC!!!!!! YES!!!! http://tinyurl.com/bftk4d *thank you!!*
· How is this a debate, again? why are these shoes being sold as “sustainable” http://tinyurl.com/b4tnaf I wish i new more about PVC
· Joel Makower asks about green marketing #cm09
· #cm09 Joel Makower wants gree to equal better. work around the dogma. remember the business case, here.
· #cm09 question asked “the planet is your client” is an internal conversation? Ans. sometimes. sometimes we have to talk around the subject.
· Joel Makower #cm09 stories through design can/should/will integrate head and heart in the discussion
· AIGA #cm09 http://sustainability.aiga….
I just wondered onto this site from David Muro II ‘s blog, and wanted to post the link here. It is a video of Emily Pilloton speaking on ‘social minded product design’ at the Metropolis Conference. Pilloton was one of the quest speakers presenting this past Saturday at Compostmodern09 on her work as founder of Project H. Check out the video; these are product design concepts that need to be discussed in fashion design courses. They are interdisciplinary and the cross-over to fashion students is a necessary step toward sustainable fashion design.
The video link is embedded in the photo.
Or, follow this link to listen to Emily Pilloton talk about her work at Project H
The first FIBERcast, featuring Dr. Marsha Dickson and Mr. Doug Cahn, took place today, February 23, 2008. The broadcast was hosted by Dr. Hye-Shin Kim, of the University of Delaware, and focused on “Social Responsibility in the Apparel Industry”.
For those not following on Twitter, here are my live tweets of the event: searchable under #fibercast, #csr and #sr
· Dr. Marsha Dickson # fibercast: monitoring become the standard, but often does not provide solutions. new book http://tinyurl.com/aqb85w
· #fibercast problems are complex and widespread/freedom of association/forced labour/discrimination/child labour
· Environmental responsibility does not just have to do with fiber choice. remember the whole life cycle analysis/ #fibercast
· CSR to Mr. Doug Cahn# fibercast is about looking at the impact, to mitigate the negative, and augment the possitive
· Doug Cahn #fibercast http://thecahngroup.com/
· #csr is not an add-on, its a core issue, supplychain for an apparel company..pay your workers the legal limit, at least make up short fall
· disctinction between compliant and non-compliant/the industry is aflling short. yes there is cost, but also have a business case (save$)#csr
· #csr #fibercast Dr. Marsha Dickson Answers Q. on WRAP factory certification is important but not the answer http://tinyurl.com/bjckwu
· limitations of factory monitoring asks “what?” not “why?” and quality of auditing can be lacking…provides only ‘snapshop’ #csr #fibercast
· # fibercast #csr #recession: Cahn finds opportunity in downturn for better integration/restructuring interdepartmental thinking opportunity
· #csr #fibercast Dickson: consumer difference perceptions from behaviour. no real ‘no sweat’ label, cannot ensure compliance
· #csr #fibercast Dickson believes to look for honest companies working toward real change #nike #adidas (ex)
· # fibercast #csr Cahn: government can play a voluntary role, also use trade agreement..ensure internationally approved standards on imports
· # fibercast #csr Cahn check out fairlabor.org for opperations and http://www.sa-intl.org/
· # fibercast #csr Cahn, small/med. company: ask questions again and again, collaboration fairfactories.org
· #csr #fibercast Dickson stresses importance of multi-stakeholder initiatives and also ngo’s light the fire under companies
· #csr #fibercast Dickson to students: we need to educate students on #sr in graduate program, but also integrated into undergrad class
· #csr #fibercast #sr Dickson http://tinyurl.com/b3ep9u
David Berman asks his reader to understand the ways in which design can impact society, arguing that it has the potential to change the world. Berman successfully establishes and outlines the need for change, and inspires his readers, both designer and design aficionado, to open their minds to the possibilities of a new design industry. What might such an industry look like? For starters, it would hold itself accountable.
With supporting Forwards from Erik Spiekermann (of Spiekermann Partners and Honorary Professor, University of the Arts in Bremen), Min Wang (Dean of Central Academy of Fine Arts School of Design in China and design director of the Beijing Olympics) and Richard Grefé (Executive Director of AIGA), there is no question that Berman’s work is not to be taken lightly.
It is not a book about outlining his own accomplishments as a designer, or his own designs. Rather, it stays focused on qualifying the ways in which design has failed democracy, the environment, the feminist movement, and in fact design itself.
All hope is not lost, as Berman maintains an extremely positive attitude in outlining the ways that design can be used toward creating positive and lasting change. The message is simple: designers have a social responsibility.
I absolutely loved this book, and can’t wait to use it as a guide in my own research.
Interested in taking this design pledge? Do it.
Fashioning an Ethical Industry: Putting Ethics into Practice March 11th, 2009
This is a one day conference that will bring together experts in ethical fashion, as well as students and tutors, to discuss the current state of the ethical fashion industry, and ways to put ethics into practice. There is no question this will be an excellent conference.
You can read more about this year’s conference and speakers here.
To read a report on last year’s event click here, or to listen to a podcast, click here.
Another interesting article taken from The Independent today, discussed some frustrations in dealing with products that not only fall apart, but are designed to fall apart.
Thought it might be time for another poll.
Consumer complaints in the UK surrounding poorly made clothing increased by 22% in 2008, according to this article by The Independent. The article cites a report by Consumer Direct released today. It claims that the biggest consumer complaint amongst females came from ‘defective goods’, at 34%.
According to the article, “[i]n the past five years, with the rise of “value” retailers, the price of clothing has fallen by as much as 25 per cent, while shoppers have bought almost 40 per cent more garments. This suggests fast fashion may be behind the increase in problem items.”
The article also cites statistics from another report, released by Global Cool, stating that female shoppers spent £11 billion on clothes that were never worn last year.
Fast fashion has created systems that cycle through clothing at a speed impossible for consumers to keep up with, and impossible to produce proper value items.
What an incredible waste.