Here’s Why Filippa K’s ‘Circular Design Speeds’ Project Is an Industry Game-Changer
“Understanding the lifecycle of a product is key for creating a more sustainable industry; the future is dependent on a new definition of ‘fast’ and ‘slow’ fashion.”
When talking about how fashion must change in order to become more sustainable, we often come back to the importance of making a switch from a linear economy to a circular one. What this means is that a garment’s life shouldn’t be marked by a beginning and an end – as in the commonly practiced linear model – but should rather be part of a closed loop where it can be recycled and reused over and over again.
However, within a circular economy, there can be different speeds – fast and slow – which is exactly what Filippa K, together with Mistra Future Fashion, has successfully explored and realized in their Circular Design Speeds project. The brand’s Sustainability Director, Elin Larsson, lets us in on the exciting details, which are also presented in an exhibition at the University of the Arts in London this weekend.
Give us the basic facts about the Circular Design Speeds project – what is it about?
– Mistra Future Fashion and Filippa K have initiated Circular Design Speeds, led by Professor Rebecca Earley and Dr. Kate Goldsworthy of University of the Arts London. This 2-year project includes researching, developing and testing of new strategic design for 100% circular fashion garments. The idea is to implement the research insights in a real fashion industry context, focusing on speed of use and maximizing fabric value retention in products. For Filippa K, this is a key approach; exploring a process enabling us to become circular, and much more sustainable, by 2030.
– The result of Circular Design Speeds is two industry-changing garments, our new Front Runners of 2018: a commercial coat that is 100% recycled and recyclable, and a concept dress that is 100% bio-based and biodegradable. These represent a new definition of “fast” and “slow” fashion, inspired by the varied speeds of nature and its ability to create something new by using and protecting what already exists.
“We have developed circular garments where all environmental impacts and aspects during the full lifecycle are taken into account and optimized based on a predetermined life length.”
Tell us more about these different speeds. Why and in what ways are they beneficial from an environmental point of view?
– With this project we are exploring the different speeds of fashion and what it means to design a circular garment that is supposed to live for a very long time, as well as one that is only supposed to live for a short time. Understanding the lifecycle of a product is key for creating a more sustainable industry; the future is dependent on a new definition of “fast” and “slow” fashion.
– The future of fashion relies on us, the brands, being able to offer more sustainable products and services, supporting more conscious consumer behavior. We have developed circular garments where all environmental impacts and aspects during the full lifecycle are taken into account and optimized based on a predetermined life length.
What has the process looked like creating the actual garments, and what can you tell us about them and their individual properties?
– The garments that are supposed to live as long as possible was the ones closest to our core philosophy and hearts, and therefore easier to work with. A new take for us was to include a recycling company already at the design stage to make sure we made the right decisions already from the beginning. They provided us with their input and knowledge, and even tested the material in their lab. This was to make sure we could guarantee effective and full recyclability in the end, creating no waste. That actually made us change some of the design ideas, like: we had to skip the idea of having an elastic band in the arm sleeve of our Eternal Trench Coat in order for it to be 100% recyclable.
– The short-life garments were more of a challenge. Not just for us, but also because of the fact that solutions and infrastructure for that kind of materials and production processes are not in place yet, and also because it goes against everything we stand for. Our philosophy is to create clothes that last a long time, so the dresses we created as short-life garments are “concept dresses” showcasing what the future of fast fashion might look like perhaps within 2-5 years.
– The funny thing working with these “throw-away dresses”, that are 100% biodegradable and supposed to only live for a short time, is that they are developed and produced with a lot of manual work and handicraft. They are almost to be considered as art pieces – made by artistic hands and with old-time techniques – but will only be enjoyed for a short time; to be compared with art created in ice or sand. For these to be the future of fast fashion we need to reach a commercial price point, and to implement new techniques and production processes. Otherwise these products will cost way too much – both in actual money and time.
Will we be able to buy the pieces, and are these types of garments something we are likely to see in future Filippa K collections?
– The 100% recycled and recyclable trench coats will be available in store and online as of this Friday, November 23. The 100% bio-based and biodegradable concept dresses will for now only showcase what fast fashion might look like in the near future. But as Filippa K’s journey towards sustainability and circular fashion is guided by our Front Runners, our goal is to make our entire collections sustainable by 2030 with the Front Runners leading our way.
“The idea to have a multi-speed wardrobe with a mix of short-life and long-life garments, new and second hand, rented and borrowed, is realistic, practical, and sustainable.”
What does the results of this project tell you about how we will consume fashion in the future?
– Circular fashion is our internal framework for how to adopt to a circular economy, guiding us on how to move away from the linear model towards circular ones; like nature’s own ecosystem. It includes everything we do within our business: from how we design, develop and produce our clothes to how we are changing our business models, and to make sure our clothes get the long, or short, life they are meant to have.
– The idea to have a multi-speed wardrobe with a mix of short-life and long-life garments, new and second hand, rented and borrowed, is realistic, practical, and sustainable. That is why the products – defined by their lifecycle and speed of use – is central in this project.
What is to expect from the exhibition at University of Arts in London?
– Alongside our partners in this project, Mistra Future Fashion and the University of Arts London, Filippa K will be showcasing these products and telling the story of their journeys in an exclusive three-day exhibition titled Disrupting Patterns. The display describes how we worked together with industry partners to redefine the behavior of fashion using nature’s inspiration to create positive change.
The Disrupting Patterns exhibition is open on November 23-25 at the University of Arts in London (more info here). The Eternal Trench Coat will be in stores on Friday, November 23.
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