Design Brief

Background

An estimated 1.14 million tonnes of clothes are supplied onto the UK market each year, accounting for around 5% of the UK annual retail expenditure with consumers spending £44 billion a year buying clothes or around £1,700 per household. Over 30% of clothing goes to landfill at the end of life.

As well as financial implications, this impacts on the environment not only in the loss of natural resources but also in carbon emissions from the manufacture and transport of unwanted clothes and their degradation in landfill. Overall clothing contributes 5% of the global carbon footprint of UK goods and services. The carbon emissions generated by clothing of the average household is equivalent to driving an average modern car 6,000 miles.

Extending the life of clothes by an extra nine months of active use would reduce the carbon, water, and waste footprints by around 20-30 % each and cut the cost in resources used to supply, launder and dispose of clothing by 20% (£5billion). For more information, click here.

Quite simply, if clothes have a longer usable life they can be discarded less frequently. The best opportunity within the clothing lifecycle to increase longevity is at the product design stage, where changes to design practices can have a significant impact on how long an individual item remains wearable.

Design Scope

A garment’s longevity is determined by its emotional and functional resilience:

Emotional resilience refers to a garment’s desirability to the consumer. A garment’s active life may be curtailed as the consumer no longer wants to wear it.

Functional resilience refers to a garment’s physical attributes and whether it still performs its primary function of clothing the individual. A garment’s active life may be curtailed as the garment is no longer wearable due to size, holes, rips, fading, pilling or other physical attributes.

The SCAP Extending the Life of Clothes Design Awards will focus on addressing functional resilience and finding groundbreaking solutions for creating longer lasting clothes, as well as increasing the length of time before a garment is discarded (thrown away) due to failure. However, this should be set within the context of emotional resilience, with a view to creating garments that the consumer will want to continue to wear for the duration of their technical lifetime.

The key areas that should be considered when creating a garment with longevity in mind include:

Fibre selection and physical performance:

As a general practice better quality fabrics will give longer–lasting garments and this generally applies to all clothing categories. The combination of fibre type, yarn blends and yarn structure, fabric structure and the dyeing and finishing of the fabric can impact greatly on the environment and performance and durability of the garment. Note the selection of fibre and fabric types should be based on the end product and its expected use.

Fit and Comfort:

Fit and comfort is important to the wearer and has been identified as one of the primary reasons for discard. Clothes should fit well and flatter the body as well as providing comfort and durability when being worn for daily activity.

Efficient Manufacturing:

Ensuring the best seam types and finishing for the construction of garments is important to ensuring a garment is durable and wears well.

Trims, Labelling and Branding:

All trims labelling, components and branding must enhance the garments performance.

Designers are tasked with finding innovative and practical solutions to solve the issues identified by WRAP as being the technical reasons for garment failure which leads to discard within the listed fabric types. These are referred to as “failure modes."

 

The Challenge

Create a fashion collection of 6 pieces and a system that would address the principles of designing for longevity and finding solutions to minimise the ‘Failure modes’ as identified by WRAP’s research. Allow yourself to be bold, and allow yourself to imagine while remaining grounded in the reality of 2014/2015 and of course keep the wearer at the forefront of your mind

Competitors shall choose to design clothing from within any of the following categories and present innovative concepts to addressing at least one of the failure modes.

  • Knitwear: jumpers, cardigans;
  • Jersey: t-shirts, sweatshirts, leggings, joggers; and
  • Tailoring: for regular use such as suit jackets, shirts, casual shirts, trousers, dresses and skirts.

 As you work you may ask yourself:

  • What will be the main challenges facing the fashion and textile industries, and users of fashion and textiles?
  • Through increased knowledge and improved material science, what will be possible in the field of textiles and product development, in terms of fibre and fabric performance?
  • What new possibilities exist for fashion designers to engage with garment use? Can you communicate through your designs and messaging ways in which the wearer can place more value on items of clothing?
  • How will developing technologies facilitate new relationships between designer and users in fashion and textiles? 

The table below includes a number of themes which should be addressed during the design process. WRAP are looking for new ways of thinking about design and extending the life of clothing which reduces the impact on the environment. The themes listed are not intended to be exclusive of other ideas.