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The Design Dialogues site houses all online publications from the School of Design Strategies at Parsons School of Design.

This site is funded by the Stephan Weiss Lecture Series on Business Strategy, Negotiation and Innovation. This lectureship was launched in 2002 to commemorate the life of the late artist and sculptor Stephan Weiss, husband and business partner of the fashion designer Donna Karan. Weiss co-founded Donna Karan International in 1984, and was instrumental in every significant venture the company undertook: launching and structuring new brands, most notably the Donna Karan Beauty company; signing new licenses; establishing in-house legal and creative departments; devising its computer design technology; orchestrating the company’s initial public offering in 1996; and negotiating its sale to the current owner LVMH Moet Hennessy – Louis Vuitton.

about the school of design strategies


The School of Design Strategies is an experimental educational environment. We advance innovative approaches in design, business and education. In the evolving context of cities, services and ecosystems, we explore design as a capability and a strategy in the environmentally conscious practices of individuals, groups, communities and organizations. For more about the School of Design Strategies, visit the SDS Magazine.

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Section 2: Vignettes

Textile Design Services for Fashion: Unpick and Remix

Jennifer Ballie
A Marks and Spencer campaign entitled “Shwopping” encouraged consumers to donate an existing garment from their own wardrobe to offset every new purchase, counterbalancing the environmental impact of their consumption.

Unpick and Remix is a workshop I designed and delivered for a design lab as part of an interactive 2012 exhibition organized by the Centre for Sustainable Fashion at the University of the Arts London. The project was commissioned for the UK fashion retailer Marks and Spencer in collaboration with Oxfam. 1 As part of the exhibition, a Marks and Spencer campaign entitled “Shwopping” sought to encourage consumers to donate an existing garment from their own wardrobe to offset every new purchase, thereby counterbalancing the environmental impact of their consumption. 2 This campaign thus explored an aspect of a possible “alternative fashion system,” with a focus on reclaiming consumer waste. The system that Marks and Spencer devised to take back unwanted or discarded clothing has encouraged the donation of over four million items; as a consequence 1,300 tons of clothing have not ended up in landfills. The program has also generated $3.7 million dollars for Oxfam. 3
At the workshop, the metaphors of “unpicking” and “remixing” were employed to encourage the participants to develop their own personal style through the creative adaptation of existing garments.

At the workshop, the metaphors of “unpicking” and “remixing” were employed to encourage the participants to develop their own personal style through the creative adaptation of existing garments. Pinterest-based mood boards were created for each participant before dissecting each look to “unpick” their garments. Methods of draping, folding, and smocking were then identified and demonstrated as textile design techniques to support the “remix” of each garment, enabling participants to rework their clothing items with their own hands. The success of the design lab experiment suggests that such service ideas could be expanded to include a range of bespoke offerings through further consultation and co-design with customers.

Figure 1

Marks and Spencer Shwopping, 2012.

Figure 2

Marks and Spencer Shwop Lab, 2012.

Figure 1

Marks and Spencer Shwopping, 2012.



FUTURE DIRECTIONS
In many contexts, the most sustainable solution involves dematerialization: simply using less stuff. The Unpick and Remix workshop suggested the potential for exploring ways that textile design might begin to replace the need for constant consumption by offering viable alternatives. We must begin to view a product as something that will forever need completion, and the designer’s role as one of facilitation of this process as opposed to the finalization of a product.

Figure 3

Unpick and Remix 2012. Photos: Jen Ballie.

Figure 4

Unpick and Remix 2012. Photos: Jen Ballie.

Figure 5

Unpick and Remix 2012. Photos: Jen Ballie.

Figure 3

Unpick and Remix 2012. Photos: Jen Ballie.



NOTE: the author would like to thank the Centre for Sustainable Fashion, Marks and Spencer, and Oxfam for the opportunity to conduct the workshop within the Shwop Lab. Additional thanks to Hannah van Grimbergen and Bianca Thoyer Rozat for supporting the workshop.

1

Marks and Spencer Shwop Lab Exhibition, curated by The Centre for Sustainable Fashion in collaboration with Oxfam, May 2012: see http://www.marksandspencer.com/s/plan-a-shwopping.



2

Marks and Spencer Shwop Lab Exhibition.



3

Leon Kaye, “Marks & Spencer’s Shwopping One Year Later: Progress and Potential,” TriplePundit, May 9, 2013, www.triplepundit.com/2013/05/marks-and-spencer-shwopping.

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