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Conceptual Design Thinking: The Development Process in Sustainable Fashion



August 20, 2020, 10:05 am

By Najia Qazi, Founder of The Sustainable Narrative


Fashion is a global industry worth 2.4 trillion dollars employing millions of people and said to be one of the world’s most polluting industries. The lack of transparency and trace ability across fashion supply chains is also a major challenge. But we all believe that fashion has the power to make a positive change and the ongoing collaboration and movement plays an important role to beginning to re-imagine currently damaging systems.

While as we talk about Sustainability, it presumes that resources are infinite and should be used conservatively and wisely with a view to long term priorities and consequences of the ways in which resources are used. While, Sustainability in fashion practices support the ecological, human, and economic health as we apply these concepts to fashion, we understand it as a holistic approach to design, production, consumption, and restoration of ecosystem.

A new mind-set for business, the design thinking approach that allows us to explore new ways to create sustainable, resilient, long-lasting value in the circular economy – giving the creatives confidence to redesign the world around us. The conceptual design framework, development in terms of the production process, consumption and usage of clothing, accessories, and footwear that conserves as well as restoration of ecosystem whilst respecting and protecting the human rights of people and enabling equitable development of communities.

The creative design development steps and techniques offer an approach that can used to generate and explore ideas, it’s crucial to develop and refine skills to understand and address rapid changes in the environments and behaviors especially in times of COVID’19 and help develop the final product to contribute one way or another towards the existing Sustainable fashion industry.

1) Focus: Selection of a Sustainable based idea on an inspirational story line.

2) Reframe: Writing down of the ideas in a form of a question that invites solution to the existing gap within the fashion industry while creating a design opportunity at the same time.

3) Identify the participants:  Involvement of the real people that includes the worker and consumer hand in hand with each other to identify that how are they affected and involved by the process.

4) Idea generation: With the existing design opportunity and participants in mind, one can think broadly of the possible solutions and interventions and come up with multiple ideas as well.

5) Idea selection: Overview the ideas generated and select the most promising concept, or the one you are most excited by, or the one you think is simplest to try.

6) Story boarding: Sketching of a storyboard to simply the idea and how it would work in a real-world scenario, and how the participants you identified would interact and be affected by it.

7) Prototyping: Finally, if you think the idea is promising enough, you will identify a way to test some part of the idea for real. Doing this will help you learn more and execute the final product as a result.

Therefore, conceptual design thinking & development process in Sustainable Fashion is an iterative process that helps us to understand the consumers, challenge assumptions, redefine problems and create innovative solutions to prototype and test as a result. Creative businesses must be viable in the current economy and simultaneously transform the business ecosystems they participate in. As, the goal is to create businesses that support win-win solutions, systemic health and collaborative networks that serve people and planet together.

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