Blog 6

Throughout this semester we have reflected on the principle of keeping our environment in mind; Nature goes hand in hand with that concept as well. Based on all of the attributes that nature has to offer alongside the various benefits that stem from it, everyone including entrepreneurs, business people, and designers should keep this in mind. Since nature produces only what is necessary, designers should take only what is necessary to their creative ide as long as it coincides with natures pure aspects. The Ted Talk by Robert Full talked about how we have to allow nature to be our teacher through not forgetting what it is capable of, how it is created, and what we can use it for. He touches base on how he personally applies this idea through robots (made of a combination of materials) inspired by cockroaches. In fact, he talks about the idea of designing things through a cohesive form coinciding with natures principles.

In the merchandising field it is crucial to look at all of a products life cycle to apply more sustainable practices. Whether its evaluating the labor conditions of a worker, maintaining a company’s branding image by being sticking true to their values in all aspects of production, or solely on implementing materials that are not problematic when a product has reached its end use. For a merchandiser, one has the ability to further engage in business relationships to come to a mutual shared agreement on each others values and practices especially in regards to sustainability. Instead of leading business relationships only on a transactional basis, engaging in a win situation for both parties involved.

A SWOT analysis is crucial in understanding/ evaluating where a company stands in the market place. This week our group evaluated the sustainable practices of Patagonia (a sustainable company) and Forever 21 (a not so sustainable company). Our findings are as follows:

Patagonia: 

Strengths: They follow Fair Trade guidelines and focus on the triple bottom line. With doing this, they gain recognition from customers.

Weakness: Their price point. 

Opportunity: Continue to further teach their sustainable findings in the industry and make an impact on peoples’ lifestyles. They also have the opportunity to become a 100% Fair Trade company.

Threats: The competition they face with brands and companies providing lower cost merchandise.

Forever 21: 

Strengths: Stays up to date with fast approaching trends and maintains a low-cost price point.

Weakness: Implements unsustainable practices. Unlike other companies who talk about ways they are becoming more sustainable in a fast fashion industry, Forever 21 just focuses on the bottom line.

Opportunity: Since they have a voice in the fashion industry as a trendy company, they have the opportunity to be advocates for more sustainable practices showing that they care about people and the environment as much as they do about making a profit.

Threats: Consumers need for fast fashion at a low-cost and competition with similar product offerings.

In an activity on Monday, my group talked about how retail stores could apply the use of signage to further inform shoppers about ways to become more sustainable. The only problem with this is when we look at our own shopping experiences we notice that we try to avoid reading as much as possible. I know that the only signs I read are the prices and a label with ingredient facts if necessary. With that being said, I think product brands that utilize sustainable practices could implement small signage on their bottles with fun facts (ex. Inside of Snapple’s bottle cap) that relate to sustainability.

Since I was out of town this week I was unable to attend the first LOLA show, presented by a group of students on the topics of: Biomimicry, Industrial Ecology, Nature Centered Design. Since I was not in class to hear the students’ presentation first hand, my reflection is merely based off of other students’ points of views and notes. Reflecting on their takeaways, the diversity of the presentation taught them a range of information that could potentially be used in the merchandising field. Whether that was evaluating a company’s sustainable practices or utilizing more sustainable practices in the fashion industry such as mushrooms in packaging or fish nets as thread in swimsuits. I can’t wait for the LOLA shows to come as well as my own where I can be more personally involved in the learning experience on different topics.

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