I love a good manifesto—whether it’s political or personal. Assuming it’s not of a feverish or crazy Unibomber-ish slant, interesting ideas are usually presented by progressive writers offering an aim for change. I figure if they went to enough trouble to outline an official mission, it’s worth taking a look. And that’s definitely the case with ‘Open Source Fashion Manifesto.’ While initially I was attracted to and curious about the fashion angle in combination with 3D printing, I discovered a much deeper message than anticipated—and one that most definitely needs to be heard, shared, and followed.
Dutch fashion designers Martijn van Strien and Vera du Pont are not alone in seeing the next industrial revolution looming; in fact, many think we are already in its midst, propelled along by 3D printing and other peripheral technology. Van Strien and du Pont propose a democratization of production along these lines as well. And while that’s certainly not a new idea today, how they apply their thoughts to fashion comprehensively is quite original, provocative—and a call to action. The three main themes within the manifesto, spoken from fashion personified in the first person, are those of environmental concerns, the waste and general greed involved in clothing (as in that overstuffed closet of your sister’s) and wardrobe collections, along with—of course—the conditions under which the clothing was produced.
“I want to stay relevant, have a voice. I want to be worn, and also re-used. I want to be designed to last, for more than just one season. I want to be enjoyed by everyone without polluting our planet. I want to be produced by people who are happy and proud of what they make,” states the manifesto in the beginning, speaking as fashion personified.
They call to change the rapid and mass production of fashion that is overloading our world and encouraging greedy consumerism. Many of us probably have the friend or relative who buys a beautiful blouse and then goes home only to find that they bought the same one or something like it just six months ago. There’s something more than a little wrong with that picture, but it’s all too common for those who are lucky enough to have overstuffed closets filled to the brim with shoes and purses as well.
“Garments are being ‘consumed’ like never before. Fashion has evolved into a fast-paced production system that never sleeps, providing us with almost anything we want in the blink of an eye. Products are delivered straight to our doorsteps, removing the need to even leave our houses. We experience this form of consuming as the ultimate luxury. To be able to buy anything we like, whenever we want it, with little or no effort,” states the manifesto.
Along with this, they point out that manufacturing practices are damaging the environment, and discarded clothing is piling up. Cheap clothes mean cheap wages, which in turn means those making the clothes may very well be suffering. The designers ask for change.
Showing origin of clothing is one of the first requests. Where did clothes come from, what materials was used, and who made them? Van Strien and du Pont see people everywhere as curious enough and information-driven enough to be able to ask where their fashion originated, and then make educated decisions about what they want to buy and make a statement in wearing.
“Buying these garments will help us support the people who are working according to these beliefs, and makes it possible for them to continue doing what they love.”
Encouraging self-sustainability—and this is where 3D design and 3D printing come in as well—they ask people to go back to the idea of making their own clothes. Not only it is an empowering process, but the clothing is customized and you can ensure a perfect fit. You have complete control over your design and can share it as well, allowing others to improve on it or change it for their own preferences.
“When working according to the open-source principles, the fashion industry will become an online-based community. Designs, materials and instructions are shared. They guide us to produce our ultimate styles, made to measure for each of us. No more copied styles and turning up at a party to discover you’re wearing the same dress as someone else.”
“All our garments will be unique, perfectly fitting and irreplaceable.”
They suggest modular clothing, 3D printed and assembled by designers and users—and not discarded quickly. “Make me last,” asks fashion personified. There simply could not be a very more common-sense request, offering that with modern manufacturing we can recycle and re-use a wide range of versatile materials.
“With no waste materials leaving the industries, the negative toll on our surroundings will decrease immensely. Instead of growing new materials in ideal climates, we will give new meaning to our waste by up-cycling it to fresh new garments,” states the manifesto.
And with “You Made Me, Now Change Me,” the designers ask that we become aware of our power and influence in fashion. They encourage everyone to learn how to 3D print, use a laser cutter, and share open source digital designs with communities.
“We will never have to rely on others to make our ideal products, but do it ourselves instead. This not only lets us use our favorite materials, but gives us total control of every aspect of the production process. It ensures the final product reflects our values and beliefs, and makes it possible to express our individual creativity.”
“We can make products whenever we need them. A black dress, lasercut in minutes at the hotel lobby and assembled in time for a late-night party. Or a new pair of running shoes, printed overnight for a morning run on the beach at our holiday destination.”
Overall, the entire message is lovely in its delivery, as thoughtful in its message. This is one that you want to see go viral. Just as so many today are much more involved in how food is prepared and delivered, they also ask for the world to consider the clothes on their back and take control of all the negative aspects. They ask for designers to connect and collaborate with one another, and to act as facilitators.
“Keeping this process as easy and accessible as possible, the designer provides us with access to sustainable materials, educates us in new ways of constructing garments and inspires us to add our own final touch to the pieces.”
They also envision something which may blow the minds of many, but would be amazing to bring to fruition. Let’s ‘create a closed material loop.’ How does this happen? Companies collect old clothes and recycle them into fabrics that are sustainable. Retailers offer more client-specific items. What about renting basic clothes and paying to have them laundered?
“Services could provide clean white t-shirts and take care of washing, repair & end-of-life recycling, and will be rewarded for doing this in ethical and sustainable ways,” states the manifesto.
“Having full responsibility over the life-cycle of the products they offer, the focus would shift towards better quality and a more personal approach of clients. They will be here to provide us with what we need, how we need it, and when we need it.”
These ideas certainly have the potential to change the fashion world, and rock the runway in an altogether new light. The final message is to be brave and make a personal effort in helping to effect change, share these ideas, and work to lessen waste. Dressing smartly certainly takes on a whole new meaning!
“Take matters into your own hands, don’t wait for someone else to make s first move. Be proud of the chance you have, to influence me and my future. No change will be too small, start with yourself, or join communities that are already making a change.”
What do you think of this manifesto? Discuss in the Fashion Manifesto & 3D Printing forum over at 3DPB.com.