Design through the layers: Smart textiles for contemporary design solutions and sustainable consumption processes
Authors: Rossana Gaddi, Giovanni Maria Conti
Abstract: "As individual consumers, one of the most responsible actions we can take to protect the planet is to extend the life of the things we already use." Taking under advise-ment the indication of Rose Marcario, CEO of Patagonia, the Salewa Metro System project aims to analyse and understand which aesthetic, functional and technical char-acteristics must be integrated in a garment to ensure maximum longevity, counteract-ing the trend towards massive consumption of contemporary society. Today the tex-tile and fashion industry is the least sustainable and most polluting among the entire industrial system, both considering the production side where "every phase of its production chain threatens our planet" (Shen, 2014), and that of consumption, which hardly adopts or induces habits that contribute to the cause of a more equitable fash-ion system. Starting from a stylistic and product analysis of the so-called "vintage" sector, the aesthetic and functional characteristics that allow a garment to remain de-sirable, regardless of the fashion cycles, have been defined. Quality, functionality, style and sustainability are critical factors both from an environmental and also a commercial point of view, if we consider the ever-increasing sensitivity of the market to issues related to the protection of the planet. In the hyper-connected contemporary society, the ever-increasing search for technologies and materials related to well-being and health, in contrast with an extremely tiring urban environment, have been ana-lysed together with the latest growing fashion trends as “athleisure”, where the de-mand for stylistic freedom, comfort and sporting performance is central. The Salewa Metro System project is a collection of urban and sporty, convertible and multifunc-tional outerwear composed of three layers of fabric that can be coupled according to the conditions of the external environment. The technical analysis of the layering system, that is the technical garments with which mountaineers are equipped, has generated the guidelines for the development of a collection that starts from pure technical performance, smoothing out the most extreme accents (useful only in situa-tions of extreme meteorological hostility) to then propose itself to an urban and low mountain market. The use of smart materials and nano textile technologies has made it possible to create a layered system of garments with different functions that can always guarantee the best conditions in which to make the human body work. Used correctly, a good sequence of layers provides protection from environmental atmos-pheric agents and pollutants, perfect skin transpiration as well as the conservation and dissipation of body heat. The project was carried out in collaboration with the Salewa sportswear company, and the garments are designed to remain intact as long as possi-ble, prepared for care, repairs and replacement of parts. They remain aesthetically at-tractive in the long term thanks to the classic stylistic choices that can be modified according to the occasion. They are always upgradeable in performance: the individual textile components are always replaceable. They tolerate aging well, have a long-life cycle and hit the market objectives together with increasingly design inputs for a more sustainable fashion process.
Keywords: Fashion Design, Smart Materials, Sustainability, Vintage
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