Sustainable design resources
Time is limited: Both your available hours in the day and humanity’s time to change consumption habits and production patterns to address climate change and social justice. To save you time, we have curated this list of essential resources. There are five sections: Learn (lessons and courses), Tools (indices, frameworks and guides), Glossaries (key words and phrases), Read (papers and reports) and Watch (informative videos). We believe these will enrich your understanding of sustainability and help you improve your design practices. This is in no way a comprehensive list and we’ll continue to add to it as we discover resources we think would be useful to you. Of course, your input will be much appreciated too. Happy learning.
African Fashion Research Institute
Sustainable Fashion Academy
Preparing for a sustainable transition requires leadership, inspiration and specialised knowledge. Effective tools are needed to roll out carefully planned sustainability strategies that address each aspect of the value chain. The Sustainability Fundamentals course is a comprehensive online training tool that provides in-depth foundational knowledge about the core issues and challenges of sustainable apparel. Participants complete the course with an energised, creative focus, and a critical awareness that enables them to drive the sustainable transformation of their business forward.
These three lessons on upcycling, zero-waste and reconstruction come in three parts: an illustrated guide that includes tips and a case study; a video and a step-by-step example. The intention of these lessons is to encourage designing for low waste: Through learning the three sustainable design techniques – zero waste, up-cycling and reconstruction, you will find inspiration on how to maximise the use of existing resources and minimise waste.
Find the lessons here.
Fashion’s Future: The Sustainable Development Goals
This Future Learn course, available for free until the middle of June 2020, is comprehensive and easy-to-use. If you’re keen to develop an understanding of global garment supply chains and the impacts they have on people and the planet, sign up. If you are new to the terms used in sustainable development and to the history of, and reason for, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, sign up. You’ll also learn how fashion relates to biodiversity, water issues, fair labour and other socio-political issues.
Professor Becky Early, Professor Kay Politowicz and the team at TED co-developed The TEN, sustainable strategies to help designers reduce the environmental impact of textile design, production, use and disposal. Intending to educate and inspire users to make more informed and innovative decisions, The TEN is a framework for creative thinking and action. The strategies emerged from a practice-based and collaborative research approach over many years; and are best used when supporting teams in the design thinking process behind the creation of new prototypes which test potential solutions for a more sustainable industry.
You can access The TEN here.
Slow Factory Foundation: Guide to Impact Marketing
The coronavirus pandemic and current #blacklivesmatter protests have inspired many fashion brands to commit a share of revenue or masks to a cause or charity. This important guide compiled by the Slow Factory Foundation offers clear advice on how best to communicate these donations to your audience. This communication is called impact marketing which Slow Factory describes as “a strategy to connect a commercial product or service to a charitable cause, social/environmental initiative or other nonprofit in order to position a brand as being socio-politically conscious.”
Read the concise guide to ethical impact marketing here.
CFDA Sustainable Strategies Worksheet
This 24-page worksheet gives you clear instructions on the different aspects of your business using leading questions, implementation advice and tips. You’ll find sections on materials (p8); transport (p19); packaging (p17) and how to host a sustainable event (p22). This resource aims to strengthen the global impact of American fashion but it’s useful for anyone working in the industry. The writers of this worksheet acknowledge that sustainability is not one-size-fits all, “there are myriad routes one could take and they all have value.”
You can access the worksheet here: CFDA-Sustainability-Worksheets
This index, compiled by CFDA, offers insightful information, about fabrics. Did you know that it’s impossible to trace the sourcing of polyester fibre back to its raw material source. Apparently polyester’s raw material, petroleum, is one of the most difficult raw materials to trace back to the source. You’ll find entries for new innovations such as Bolt Threads, Banana Sylk and Orange Fibre. Offering an overview, definition and sustainable options, this index is a good place to look when you’re planning your next collection. Remember that this is written for an American audience. [We are working on creating South Africa resources for you!].
You can access the index here.
Circular Design Guide: Smart Material Choices
The Circular Design Guide, a collaboration between Ideo and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, helps innovators create more elegant, effective, creative solutions for the circular economy. We recommend that you work through the three-page worksheet attached here. By answering a series of questions, you’ll learn to make better choices about what materials go into your products as well as their impact on the wider system. Once you’ve completed this exercise, you might like to explore the advanced series of methods here.
This worksheet is a good start to choosing better materials: Materials_choices_Final
The Five Goods
The fashion industry has contributed to water pollution and climate change, sends enormous amounts of waste to landfills and threatens the health and safety of the people who make clothes and the people who wear them. Fashion for Good, a platform promoting a better fashion industry believes that with the right tools, resources and incentives, the industry can change. Enter The Five Goods Framework, an aspirational framework to use to transition a take, make, waste system to a take, make, renew, restore one.
Read and use the framework here: The-Five-Goods
Condé Nast Sustainable Fashion Glossary
This extensive and well-researched glossary was released last month. The online resource, which as been compiled by a team of academics, fashion schools and editors is a compendium of terms and a reference tool based on a respect for and valuing of the earth and all who live within it. The terms have been classified into several categories, each category includes an introductory summary that provides an overview of the topic, followed by an extended list of terms arranged in an A-Z order for ease of access.
You can access the glossary here.
This is pithy and very useful for quick clarification on, for instance, the differences between the terms “upcycling”, “recycling” and “reconstruction”. It’s a useful place to start learning the language of sustainable fashion.
You’ll find this glossary here.
Fashion, Sustainability and Decoloniality
South African fashion academic Dr Erica de Greef delivered a keynote titled Fashion, Sustainability and Decoloniality at Rewoven’s symposium, Future of Fashion in December 2019. In this address, Erica explores the concept of decoloniality and its relevance to thinking critically – from a perspective of the global South – about the future of fashion. To address the urgency of climate change, we need to reframe and reimagine the fashion system as we know it. Erica unpacks what it is to think about the future of fashion using a decolonial lens; what this may look like; and, why this move to delink and rethink fashion is so important for South African designers.
Read the keynote address here.
Earth Logic: Fashion Action Research Plan
Concerned with fostering change and action, Kate Fletcher and Mathilda Tham’s thinking is crystal clear. Their loyalty is to the planet before industry, business and economic growth. Their plan, set out in this document, “starts from the simple but radical idea of putting the health and survival of our planet earth and consequently the future security and health of all species including humans, before industry, business and economic growth fosters change and action.” Earth Logic is made up of six holistic landscapes (less, local, plural, learning, language and governance) that set out progressive areas for transformation of the fashion sector directed at the whole system of fashion. All 74 pages are key reading, but for designers with little time, at least read the six landscapes from page 42.
Read the Earth Logic thesis and plan of action here: Earth-Logic-eversion
The Ellen MacArthur Foundation: A vision of a circular economy for fashion
Ten-year-old global ‘thought leader’ in circular-thinking, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation has released its vision of a circular economy for fashion. In a circular economy, waste and pollution are designed out, and products and materials are kept in use for as long as possible. For the fashion industry, this means that “products (apparel, footwear, and accessories) are used more, made to be made again, made from safe and recycled or renewable inputs”.
Download and read the Ellen MacArthur Foundation: A vision of a circular economy for fashion here.
Retail, Clothing, Textile, Footwear and Leather Masterplan for South Africa
On Wednesday, 3 June 2020, editor-in-chief of Twyg Magazine, Jackie May was in conversation with SACTWU’s National Industrial Policy Officer, Etienne Vlok to discuss the retail, clothing, textile, footwear and leather (R-CTFL) masterplan which was signed by major CTFL retailers, manufacturers, labour unions and the government at the 2nd Presidential Investment Conference in Sandton, Gauteng on 8 November, 2019. The R-CTFL masterplan aims to lay a firm basis for future growth and sustainability of the industry. You can read the transcript of the Instagram Live interview. You’ll find attached the final version of the masterplan.
Fashion Revolution White Paper
This white paper gives you a good idea why we need a fashion revolution. Besides exploring what the international organisation Fashion Revolution has achieved in the seven years since it’s been campaigning for change, this paper analyses what progress has been made across the industry, and what change the organisation hopes to achieve over the next five years, what its long-term vision of the future of fashion looks like and how the public, the industry, governments and others can help.
You can access it here: Fashion Revolution White Paper 2020
Fixing Fashion: Clothing Consumption and Sustainability
Although this is a 2019 British government report, it is also very relevant to Twyg readers. It gives an excellent assessment of the effects of fast fashion and the overproduction and overconsumption of clothing. You’ll learn about fashion’s environmental impact, and the many awful labour practices along the supply chain. Find out why transparency is critical (p25), learn about microfibres (p35) and more about natural vs synthetic fibres (p30). Especially exciting are the examples of new economic models for the fashion industry (p54).
Read the report here: FIXING FASHION UK GOV REPORT
Why fashion should care about regenerative agriculture and biodiversity
Fashion needs to focus on sourcing its raw materials from regenerative and restorative production systems. This will embed sustainability into products, while contributing positively to people and planet. Through its use of agricultural raw materials, the fashion industry and its supply chains are directly linked to the degradation of soil, conversion of natural ecosystems and biodiversity loss.
Read the Sustainable Angle’s explanation here and Kering, which has done extensive research has released its Biodiversity strategy Read it here.
Textile waste: problem or opportunity?
Post-consumer textile waste alarmingly makes up more than 6% of the overall waste stream in Cape Town. This arrives on landfills already under huge pressure, or in drains, rivers and the sea. A radical disruption of the growing mountains of textile waste in Africa and elsewhere, must be imagined, investigated and implemented if we are to create more circular models for fashion and textile waste. Jackie May speaks to director and founder of Hong Kong-based Redress Dr Christina Dean, co-founder of Rewoven, Esethu Cengu and circular economy programme manager of GreenCape Saliem Haider.
Future of Fabrics: Key Themes for 2020 and beyond
The 9th Future Fabrics Expo, which was held in January 2020, has made its seminars available on YouTube. The Future Fabrics Expo is the largest dedicated showcase of globally sourced, commercially available sustainably and responsibly produced fabrics and materials. Providing the tools for a responsible fashion industry, the Expo sources and curates materials with a lower environmental footprint, offering accessible and innovative sustainable solutions.
Fashion Revolution South Africa: What sustainability means to designers
Jackie May, editor of Twyg, is in conversation with South African slow fashion designers, Sindiso Khumalo and Lukhanyo Mdingi, and with stylist Antoinette Degens. This took place during Fashion Revolution Week, April 2020 where they spoke of the challenges and opportunities of working sustainably in South Africa.
Gepostet von Fashion Revolution – South Africa am Donnerstag, 23. April 2020
- Image: Loin Cloth and Ashes shot by SDR Photos via AFI