Product Service Systems (PSS) is an emerging business concept in the sustainable design industry, which combines the business of selling products with a relatable service–it’s the idea of a one-shop-stop. After reading about PSS in Sustainable Product Service Systems: The New Frontier in Apparel Retailing?, I felt that the concept was a bit far-fetched and outlandish. It’s not something that we see in today’s society and this has largely to do with the inconvenience of being functional. A major conflict is that people are not well-rounded in the education needed to maintain PSS. One must be educated in product design AND in sustainable concepts AND in a relatable service. This is a rare set of educational tools for people to obtain, much less any particular individual. I believe that there are two solutions to such an issue: begin a curriculum that educates individuals in the related topics of PSS or begin collaborating educational forces. The latter seems to be more realistic for integrating PSS immediately; however, the first alternative would be more practical in the future, as there would be higher levels of cooperation among team members with the same values and knowledge. So how does all of this apply to the apparel industry? PSS can be applied to all product fields, but the apparel industry is full of products – clothing, footwear, accessories, etc. The services applied to the apparel industry are infinite and range from integrating empathy into designs to providing a unique fit to individuals through alterations. This can be sustainable in terms of dematerialization, costs, etc.
My epiphany this week is a very successful idea for a company in the apparel industry that integrates the concept of PSS. Consider tennis shoes–we wear shoes every day and tend to wear them until our big toe has created a hole in the toe of the shoe, the sole is peeling away (or better yet, nearly nonexistent), and dirt and stains cover the shoes like a tattoo-obsessed punk. At this point, the shoes are usually discarded and we mope until we find a new pair of shoes that will suffice as a replacement. What if there was a company that had a set number of tennis shoe designs made of highly recyclable materials made of the best quality from the soles to the laces. A service in collaboration with the company would provide replacements of the soles and laces and the fabrication of the shoes could be cleaned or replaced at a small fee. Consider this service a tennis shoes doctor. This service could be aligned with a company such as Nike or Adidas. The reason I have chosen to elaborate an idea with tennis shoes is because it is an everyday product that does not change in appearance frequently and always serves the same function to its users. It would be difficult to apply the PSS concept to clothing because our society is so consumed with fast fashion that is would be a very difficult to meet the needs of our style-demanding society.
If, for some wild reason, the entire fashion industry shifted to incorporating the PSS concept, then would we become less consumed with fast fashion and more consumed with quality products that are sustainable to the environment? Each week I am doing detailed studies of sustainable concepts in hopes of discovering which concept is the most practical for applying to the future sustainable design world.