Levi Strauss and slow design
How about this…Levi Strauss has developed a line of “slow” clothing, called Threadwell, but is only releasing it in Europe. So uncertain is the company of the US market, reports the Guardian, that they haven’t announced any release there.
Levi's new Threadwell line aims for "slow" clothing. Photo Levi Strauss
The designer Paul Dillinger suggests that his work at the innovation laboratory at Levi’s allows him to test ideas at small scale and then scale up the practices that work. Some of the features of the new line, whose key slow component is durability, include stronger yarn, reinforced closures and pockets, and end-of-life recyclability.
The supply chain also figures into the story. The manufacturing process will use less water and energy. In what sounds like the most innovative part of the process, factory managers from Bangladesh were flown to San Francisco to make suggestions to improve the design. Dillinger commented that “Once we gave them permission to make suggestions, they were abundant.” He said that designers usually engage actively with suppliers, and instead send over specifications by email to distant factories.
This report got me thinking about how one could introduce students more viscerally to the idea that suppliers have a big role to play in sustainable design. Any ideas? Without an actual design in production it could be tricky, but with modern technology it might be possible to have a skype call with a factory manager about a generic product–an item of clothing or houseware–that students are trying to improve or even radically innovate.
As usual, if you like this post, please pass it on and subscribe to get monthly summaries in the right margin. Also check out this week’s post on the Design, Consumerism and Activism blog on the organization WeHatetoWaste.com.
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