Andrew Thompson on... Fashioning through staples
In a world where making money is the main focus and where fast fashion has fuelled overconsumption for the past few decades, are we reaching a threshold where companies are now taking a much more holistic view of responsible manufacturing, supply chain integrity and even in some cases transitioning to renewable energy?
“We need to get back to things like slow food and slow fashion. It’s happening, but it needs to influence far more to value things rather than a have a throwaway society “
Mary Robinson 2019 for Made Thought
Personally, I’ve always lent towards brands with slower manufacturing processes using the best materials with a distinct attention to detail in product creation. I do also like the idea of finding beauty in something maturing in age and forming an emotional appreciation and connection.
Obviously, if we all made more considered purchases that are viewed as being staples in higher quality materials and well produced, this is additive. Thrifting and upcycling have shed previous stigmas and are rapidly growing in popularity. The need for buying less advocates new habits and has evolved creative thought process in product creation, perhaps even considering breaking free from the constraints of seasons, gender and product adaptability. Yet despite a bleak picture there are some great examples of different brands changing the narrative to being more responsible.
Orba, a New Zealand based brand is tackling the global footwear industry reliance on harmful synthetic with is first ever biodegradable Sneaker (main image above). The shoe is made up of natural materials and boasts 93% plant based ingredients such as natural rubber, rice husk ash and coconut oil. The upper is rather unique using three renewable plant materials which are flax canvas, hemp and nettle. At the end of life the shoes can be returned to the brand and they put them in a micro-organism rich environment to naturally biodegrade. These sneakers are gender neutral clean essentials that tackle the issue of pre and post retail waste.
We could also look at the notion of fashion being timeless, durable and fit for purpose. For example, Australian workwear boot brand Blundstones, who have been making products for 150 years, are also turning their eye to more sustainable practices. After a four year development plan they have just launched a vegan Chelsea boot in antibacterial microfibre developed by Group Morón.
The Restory is a restoration company that specialise in luxury items allowing customers to have statement pieces repaired, prolong life and reduce pressure to produce new items.
Designers and creatives are now spearheading a shift from mass production into more novel routes of development also making product more durable in order to stretch the product lifecycle. Materials will definitely play a crucial part in improving the function, quality and overall impact in a more circular chain.
Interesting creative change makers within the footwear are growing and approaching circular systems in a more practical approach using items that are reused, repaired and remanufactured. Footwear pioneers such as Helen Kirkum, Peterson stoop and Studio Hagel and their DIY aesthetics are been replicated and co-signed by bigger brands such as Timberland “construct”, Adidas “Makers Lab” and Nike’s “Space Hippies”
It's also really interesting in addition to product care and durability to see more brands focusing on perfecting / elevating basic and essential items. Personally I am less concerned about the notion of seasons, collections or latest drops but product that offers good quality, a perfect spec and durability.
Andrew Thompson has over twenty years’ experience as a footwear Trend Forecaster and Design thought leader.