The Next Black, a documentary about the future of clothing, exemplifies the common goals of science and technology based advances in fashion and those of sustainability advocates. Sustainability is not a hippie notion, it's a side effect of technical and technological advancement, and is thus an inevitability. It should not be seen as a threat to luxury, or a demand for compromise, but rather as a way for us to be more efficient which is always good for the bottom line (the second most unsexy thing in fashion after the word sustainability). It's easy to brush off because it still seems so far from the reality. We have yet to even imagine the ways in which the industry will transform as our experiments and research in the textile development and manufacturing process become more advanced.
"How did we end up with fast fashion? Where did this come from?" Rick Ridgeway, responsible for environmental initiatives at Patagonia, asks. The ability to produce fashion is the most likely reason. With that capability, manufacturers responded to the growing demand for new things at an ever faster rate. The desire from the consumer is driving it, and "that's where the change has to come from." So while it's technology that got us into this cycle, it's technology that will also get us out.
There are some odd and likely un-commercialize-able ideas in the video, but oh, man, it's pretty cool to see how science-y fashion can be.
A conversation I had yesterday with a friend who was gathering perspectives on the future of fashion, particularly within fashion and technology, began much the way this video does. It is a train of thought that resonates, but also frustrates, because the answers still feel vague and far away:
While fashion moves faster and faster, the concept of clothing hasn't changed much in over 100 years...Maybe it doesn't make sense to disrupt a $1.7 T industry, but shouldn't there be something more progressive than design and style changes? Shouldn't there be innovation that alters the entire concept of clothing?
Shouldn't there? And if so, how do we get there?
"Fashion passes, style remains" Coco Chanel
Maybe we need to start selling style again, not fashion. Sell to last. Trust Patagonia when they tell you "don't buy this coat." Ignore the 5 "Must have" pieces in Vogue.
Every day that we continue to explore and experiment with strategies and innovations for the future of fashion brings us closer to a better, more healthy, and more sustainable fashion industry. It's anyone's move to make.
Read more about the video here.