I learned a lot about the social aspect of consumption this week. A reading by Kate Fletcher on Max Neef’s taxonomy of human needs, focused on what satisfies our needs, and how they are viewed as natural or desirable in society. For example, when it comes to fashion, clothing can satisfy basic physical needs like warmth or protection, while it can also act as a personal and social satisfier for expression or belonging. Consumption for different things satisfies needs differently when comparing countries around the world. Like in a third world country, clothing is a physical need, whereas in more economically advanced countries like the U.S., fashion is more often considered a social satisfier to fit in or express yourself through what you wear. But the latter is an unsustainable practice. A great example that was discussed in the reading is the artist, Alex Martin, who wore the same dress everyday for one year. She wanted to explore the need we have for newness. What she found was that self-confidence, creativity, and restraint could be enhanced in ways other than clothing. I love this idea. I don’t think a lot of us truly realize how caught up we are in simply what we choose to wear everyday alone. I think it is a great way to dig deeper into your own personality and creativity and find new ways to express yourself.
In our learning communities we did an activity to design an apparel or interior concept that involves satisfying various needs. My favorite was the concept of a “mood shirt” that acted like a mood ring and changes colors based on your current mood. I love this idea because it puts everything out in the open, and people don’t have to act fake about something, opening the doors to more conversation. Once you know how someone feels, you can approach him or her in that sense. If someone is upset, it encourages another to offer to talk with him or her.
We also had our first LOLA Show this week, and it was much more enjoyable than I expected it to be. There were several topics like Tiny Homes, Studio H’s Design for Change, Minstra Future Fashion, and IMU clothing. My favorite was the Cuyana clothing line. This company is creating a positive economic impact on various countries, while also creating a sustainable impact on consumers. Every season, Cuyana travels to a different country, choosing materials and manufacturers all in that country for their new line. This circulates money into various countries each season instead of maybe the same one that most designers use for various products. With each purchase, they offer the story behind each product; where it came from, why they chose that country, the inspiration behind the product, and more. This creates an emotional attachment to each product, increasing the likelihood of the consumer to keep the product for longer periods of time.
Like I said, I learned a lot about the social side of consumption and what ties us to purchases. I had an epiphany, of sorts, to go home and pull out the bag of clothes that I planned on sending home that I never wear, and choose things that I could actually re-wear, or even change the structure to creating something new from something old. I would love to learn more about how to get businesses involved in production practices like Cuyana. I think implementing these practices into as many businesses as we can, will really help economic problems all around the world.