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Invited by the European Commission to speak about sustainable and circular design

I was delighted to have been invited by the European Commission to be a speaker at “RESet the Trend: making fashion sustainable and circular” in Antwerp, Belgium. The event took place last week and now I am coming back with some summarized thoughts. The event marked the launch of the anti-fast fashion campaign and the promotion of the EU Strategy for Sustainable and Circular Textiles. I saved my best thoughts for last in this post, which also explain the photo with me in the wild.

My talk within the breakout session addressed what designers can do to make fashion sustainable. Naturally, I began by sharing some insights into the Refashion Circular Design Strategy and then we all discussed about multiple steps that need to be taken by both designers and the organizations they study at and the ones they later on work within. Perhaps these things have been said many times before; however by repeating them we can slowly begin to think of them as the norm. So some of the things designers can actively start doing today:

· Design products that last physically and aesthetically through time;

· Use fewer resources per product and integrate recycled materials where possible;

· Design for disassembly and product life extension;

· Focus on natural fibres and mono-materials that can undergo fiber2fiber recycling.

But designers don’t have the necessary knowledge and standing within organizations these days. So educational institutions and brands need to focus on developing new circular competences for their designers and the latter should also create a circular mandate so that they can actively contribute towards the organization’s transition to circularity.

As discussions are carried out constantly, reports are issued monthly, promises are made daily, I think it is essential to remind ourselves that #sustainabilityleadership begins with your own behaviour. People gravitate towards the standard you set, not the standard you request. So I wore a refashionable garment from my Refashion collection from SOLVE Studio, a modern kimono which can be disassembled, redesigned, and remanufactured into pretty much anything else: jacket, skirt etc.

As for shoes, I had my trusty hiking boots from The North Face which I have been wearing constantly for 3 years now. This year, among other trips, they took me backpacking through Sweden’s wilderness for 3 weeks. Shoes and clothing can be very versatile if you choose well, take care of them, and you are confident in your own style, not fashion trends. So let us walk the talk (possibly in the same shoes)!

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