Innovation Is Priceless

My sustainability journey has been somewhat like a self-narrative by linking what I know about sustainability from the past, linking it to the present and applying it to my future in the apparel industry. Sustainability to me now is putting natures systems into a product or design. Sustainability is working with what you have and adapting to the conditions around you. Sustainability is being flexible but being driven by competition. Sustainability is feeling socially responsible while conditions worsening. When the semester began I was not in tune with nature and the strong connections that us as merchandisers have with consumers. This connection is the most important because not only are we to understand and empathize with that the customer wants to purchase but we must also have sustainable solutions available giving these customers the opportunity to be apart of the revolution. Unlike at the beginning of the semester I feel like it all begins with the designers and merchandisers to make an impact. One of the most pronounces epiphanies this semester was that we are the creator of our own story and I am the interpreter. As the interpreter I have learned and now understand what sustainability means to my life and my field. Because of our class I have been able to relate to others in our class and share this experience while empowering each other to open their eyes to social opportunities through in class discussions and design slams. Empathy was covered during our first segment and empathy is important because if you have not “been to Europe” you cannot design for “Europe”. Fashion is one of the biggest forms of expression and gives you as the merchandiser the opportunity to create a connection with others that you may not actually have without the same passion for fashion. Fashion can meet so many needs, no matter who you are. These needs include physical needs and the human desire to personally express yourself. These are both personal and social satisfiers forming a magnet for manipulation. This manipulation gives way to the entry of sustainability through a product services system. The PSS is a way to increase customers satisfaction in a way that your customers would never imagine for themselves (by being completely satisfied but involving less material consumption). The PSS creates long-term contact with customers, which mimics the idea of sustainability and longevity. Industrial ecology was the second segment this semester, which we covered very briefly. Industrial ecology thrives off our first segment, meeting human needs. IE is using the industry to take from the earth and return back into the earth after consumption. This is very useful and relevant because it is very explorative just like design and merchandising. Merchandising and design is trying something and if it doesn’t work, you try something else. Nature couldn’t have gotten it right the first time either! Once again sustainability is all about adapting. Whether we start with biology and then design or design then apply to biology either way it is a cycle that must be returned back into the earth or the production process of a garment. I love this because we were created from the earth and we are inclined to use our creator to co-exist. Although fashion hardly resembles nature aesthetically, rather whatever society deems “cool” we can still apply IE to the production process. With some sustainability haters out there, they would still buy the product because it looks pretty when little do they know, they are helping the environment one adorable dress at a time 🙂 This deems designers the sole responsibility to take action of putting industrial ecology into motion and merchandisers the opportunity to sell for a cause rather than just making money.   After this entire semester and all the knowledge that I have gained the only thing that I still would like to know more about are the laws already set into motion that requires more sustainable practices? I think this knowledge would be very helpful when entering into the real world because knowledge is power and I would like to be able to enforce what is already set into motion without being blinded by big businesses. Although we learned about labeling I wish we could have spent more time on this. One of my favorite concepts learned during the labeling concept was Timberlands nutrition label for their products. Although this was more of an internal tool, it gives me hope that one of those labels have enticed someone to purchase because they KNEW exactly what their product is doing for our environment.   Cheers to everyone and this wonderful journey this semester. I hope to hear someone in my class changing the world one of these days! Maybe it will be me? It only takes one. Good luck to all! “The main focus of our work is finding innovative solutions”-Marks & Spencer

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