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Creative Control in Sustainable Fashion

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Kirsi NIINIMAKI and Maarit AAKKO


Sustainable fashion has been mostly approached by focusing on decreasing

the environmental impact of manufacturing, developing eco-materials and

improving ethical issues in manufacturing. However, when aiming for

sustainability, even more benefit could be gained if sustainable thinking is

integrated in the system level instead of being as an add-on to the original

product. This paper presents a case study related to design and strategic

thinking in small, entrepreneurial fashion companies, those oriented towards

sustainability, in which designers often play a significant role in decision

making. The study focuses on examining how design thinking applied

together with control can benefit design, manufacturing and business

practices, and how it can create creative power for transition towards

sustainable practices in fashion. The studied cases represent such strategy

formulation that is based on experienced understanding of the fashion

industry and fashion-related business thinking. Therefore their strategy

formulation can be described as “design-driven” and “practice-based”. This

study shows that controlling the fashion system through creative solutions

provides an opportunity to increase product quality and consumer

satisfaction. Creative and strategic thinking based on design practices and

implemented by designers can benefit planning, manufacturing and business

practices toward increased sustainability. Such approach can be realized in a

profitable way and without compromising the quality of design.



PUBLISHED: Proceedings from the The 19th DMI: Academic Design Management Conference, 2014


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