Sixth Blog Entry – DHM 4573

Week 7 really emphasized putting biomimicry principles into action. In this way I think I really began to see the use of biomimicry rather than just what defined it, which I think helps me implement these aspects into my own industry. By first re-touching on the principles of nature in depth, such as how nature banks on diversity and demands the use of local expertise, I think this created the basis of the sustainable practices in relation to both merchandising in the fashion industry as well as in the designing of the garments that are marketed.

This became even more clear when we use the SWOT analysis to compare sustainable and non-sustainable practices. Learning Community 1 looked at People Tree, a company which I have mentioned several times in previous blogs due to their high standards of fair trade and sustainable practice. We used them as both our sustainable and non-sustainable comparison, as we wanted to look at how People Tree could improve. Comparing them to any other company would have been too easy, as they are one of the biggest leaders in sustainability and fair trade. We first looked at their strengths, which was probably our biggest category. They are careful and forward thinking in every area of design, material growth and usage, and merchandising. It was really their weaknesses area that we had to look deeper into. We came to the conclusion that they could find ways to source more locally, as they still source their cotton and other materials from overseas, which still has to be shipped back to the U.S.

The opportunities we saw for People tree was the expansion of their products from women’s wear into men, children and maternity as well. The more areas they can cover, the more people who can they begin to switch to more sustainable consumerism. This also plays into their threats as well. At one time People Tree was the leader in sustainability and fair trade practices, but now more and more companies are beginning to form with very innovative ideas. This could be a potential threat to a company who focuses on only one target market, and could potentially be hazardous to their ability to stay in business.

It’s possible if People Tree decided to promote their sustainable means more and informed their customers and potential target markets of their innovative practices, they could compete with new stores more easily. However, since People Tree is an online based store only, their ability to spread awareness goes only as far as their ability to be discovered online. I think if People Tree did have a store, they could post environmental-awareness signage in store alongside eco-friendly packaging in order to take their sustainable means a step further. Some of the methods we brainstormed in class could be implemented, such as encouraging the customer to recycle their garments or hang dry them. They also can have 100% recycled bags that post their materials on the side, as well as encouragement to recycle them as well. I think this makes their sustainable practices more tangible, which might make the connection with consumers more impactful.

I was really nervous about how the LOLA show was going to go, but was surprised to find that it was incredibly informative and fun. When beginning our presentations, I was under the assumption that we would be re-iterating all the information we had covered in class. We took these lessons of biomimicry, industrial ecology and nature centered design and made them applicable to the entire cycle of design. On my section, covering consumer roles and practices within the apparel industry, I found so many things that I had previously never known about our roles inside and outside of the store. There were so many things as a consumer that I had never taken into consideration while shopping, and I wanted to convey these points during our LOLA show. I feel that the rest of my group also did a great job at finding impactful facts and points about the industry to inform the rest of our class about as well.

The other talks that I had to chance to listen to were also incredibly informative as well. Two presentations that stood out to me were the self-healing clothing talk as well as the biomimicry in green moss that was implemented into clothing. The self-healing clothing one was so interesting due to the nature of how it was made (from the proteins that are found in squid teeth, who would have thought?) and it’s use with natural fibers to patch holes in fabric. I think this research still has a ways to go for it to be used in the apparel industry, but the research was none-the-less interesting to learn about. The use of green moss to create clothing was equally intriguing as a sustainable means of creating clothing and engaging a few of the biophilic design aspects directly into clothing. I was a little curious about the amount of water it took to grow the moss as well as it’s upkeep and lifespan. I think this kind of biomimicry could be potentially less sustainable than meets the eye. It’s offsetting factor was that it was still living, even while being worn on the body, and is still turning carbon dioxide into oxygen even while it serves another purpose.

Overall, this week has been really influential when it comes to implementation. I think learning about how others are putting these cycles and principles into action is the best way for a designer such as myself to not only take the same action, but to come up with new or possibly better ideas for the apparel industry. I have already come up with a way in which I can use these methods in my future research in Japan, which I am incredibly excited about. I hope to explore this research abstract even more as I continue to learn in this class. With my final blog, I hope to be able to have a concrete summary to share.

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