:: Specific Design Brief
COSTING THE EARTH: MATERIALS
2. GENERIC DESIGN CONTEXT
The fashion industry is often considered responsible for high levels of
environmental impact from the production of material to the eventual disposal of
Develop a product for an environmentally friendly fashion company who specialise
in producing products that reduce environmental impact through their choice of
material and/or production methods.
Few of us living in the UK are aware of the real journey of an item of clothes
before it reaches the shops. How much information do we get on the product label
about the environment? Have a look!
Most of the fibre and fabric manufacturing, production (fabric finishing,
dyeing) takes place in a complex assembly line across the globe.
Know your materials
It’s important that you understand the environmental and social impact of
materials to help you make the most suitable choice for your project.
It’s a tricky business and there are no easy solutions. To help inform your
www.sda-uk.org materials for information
about natural and synthetic fibres, their advantages and disadvantages. There
are a number of sites that give information on natural dyes. Take a look at
www.pioneerthinking.com/naturaldyes.html and www.earthguild.com/products/riff/rnatdye.htm
for details of what you can use and how to use them.
www.naturaldyes.co.uk/html/products.php gives details from a UK supplier of
For more general information on textiles have a look at
Textiles require many processing stages, each with particular environmental and
social impact. Which manufacturing processes do you think use most energy in
textile production? Spinning? Bleaching? Finishing?
For environmental impact on processing visit
www.demi.org.uk (Follow the links Materials and Products, textiles,
Production printing and dyeing
Printing is one of the most complex areas in textile production.
The dyeing of textiles has been dominated by the use of synthetic dyes.
Recently, natural dyes have become more popular because of the health and
environmental concerns associated with synthetic dyes. For more information on
printing and dyeing visit www.demi.org.uk
(Follow the links Materials and Products, textiles, lifecycle). For information
on natural dyes use the links above.
For inspirational organisations and products
www.howies.co.uk - environmentally
friendly sports and outdoor wear
friendly and fair trade fashion for men, women and baby wear.
www.ecomall.com - a list of environmentally
sound textiles companies. Type textiles into the search engine.
view resources, including a list of companies supplying alternative clothing.
A CLIENT DETAIL: HOWIES
Howies is a small active clothing company based in Cardigan Bay, on the West
Coast of Wales. It is Cardigan Bay’s third biggest clothing company. It makes
clothes for the sports it loves – mountain biking, skateboarding, snowboarding
and the outdoor.
Howies has a certain way of doing things. It believes in quality and making
products that last longer which is better for the environment in the long run.
It also believes in making products in a low impact way, for example, all its
t-shirts, sweatshirts and jeans, etc, are made from organic cotton.
Its mission is to make people think about stuff and it often uses print as a
vehicle to do this.
• Textile products have varying environmental impacts throughout their life
(production, use and care, disposal). There is an activity in the DfES Key Stage
3 National Strategy pp319-20 that your teacher might be able to show you how to
use. It will help develop your ideas on environmental impact. A set of cards for
the activity is available from the Centre for Alternative Technology (www.cat.org.uk)
It will help develop your ideas on environmental impact.
• Material choice: what are the prices of Howies and People Tree’s product in
comparison to less environmentally friendly company products?
• Have you thought ways of improving the production and manufacturing of your
product to make less environmental impact? What are they?
INTERESTED? What’s NEXT?
If you want to know more about Howies visit
Check out the think section on the environment and don’t miss out on their
clothing specification, when you look at individual products.
They are a small team, so please use the website as much as possible. But if you
need to contact a designer email:
decide to work on this design brief, don't forget to consider the issues of
sustainability in the different phases of your designing and making.
here to access Sustain-a-balls