The fashion world is trapped in its own business model

The fashion world is trapped in its own business model
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According to fashion technologist Marina Toeters, today’s fashion system is not much good. Her solutions are vision-rich education and most of all: innovation.

 “The current fashion system is not functioning at all. It is buyer-driven instead of development driven. There is not much new on the market; it’s only about more and faster. There are ‘new’ collections galore, where designs are being reused all the time without any thought as to how one could develop fashion nowadays. In addition, there is gigantic overproduction. More than 30 percent of the produced fashion ends up unused as waste.”

This is the view of Marina Toeters, designer and researcher of fashion technology and owner of by-wire.net. A gloomy vision of a conservative world. With an additional problem. Toeters: “The fashion world is trapped in its own business model. Due to the capitalistic mindset and mass production the speed in the fashion industry is so high that they’re trapped in it and can’t get out.”

Steal a peak
So much for the gloominess. Whoever thinks that Toeters is pessimistic is dead wrong. At several fronts she’s fighting enthusiastically against the current system. Toeters: “I teach fashion technology and ecology at Utrecht School of the Arts and Technical University Eindhoven. In this way, I hope to train visionary people. People with an opinion on the way forward for the fashion industry, who think about the value of clothing for people.”

Besides teaching, as fashion technologist Toeters is also involved in finding solutions for the outdated fashion world in another field: innovation. “Take the car industry or the telecoms business. What happened there in the last ten years is bizarre. Cars have become more economic, safer, and have lots of technological gadgets such as self-parking. Cars look after you, phones as well. If you take a look at the fashion industry: that sector has been operating in the same way for 60 years now, the same materials are being reused. It’s high time to steal a peak at technologies that are being used in cars and cell phones.”

Innovative clothing
The possibilities for innovation in clothing are countless, according to Toeters. “Think about clothing that supports posture, that let’s one sit up straight. Or clothing that regulates your body temperature using technology. Houses and cars all have airconditioning, why would clothing not be able to assist the micro-climate? If clothing that is close to your skin can warm you, the environment doesn’t need to do that and you can save energy.”

Toeters’ role in all of this is mostly connective. “I think beautiful things will happen when technicians, who are good at the latest technological developments, start cooperating with fashion designers, who know about aesthetics, but also of ways to place a product in the market. I’m trying to bridge the two. Mostly by actually designing myself. I make prototypes that show what technological innovation in clothing can look like.”

Care textile project
Toeters is also involved with the care textile project. A number of hospitals and care facilities are going to buy their company outfits together at Dutch company clothing suppliers. Sustainability and innovation will be inseparable in this. Toeters: “First we established what employees in these organisations need in supportive clothing. Then we looked at possibilities together with the clothing suppliers. Then I started to visualise and build.”

“With innovative company wear one can think of futuristic, interactive components. For instance materials that indicate when an employee is lifting in a bad way for the third time that day. We also design materials that can be integrated in the circular system. As said, in textile land overproduction is a huge problem. Hospitals are also trying to reduce their waste stream. Company wear that does not generate waste, but can be reused is a great solution.”

This item is a translation of the Dutch article Modewereld zit gevangen in eigen businessmodel published on Grensverleggers.

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