Use Forecasting: Designing Fashion Garments for Extended Use
Chapter, Peer reviewed, Journal article
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This chapter introduces the concept of ‘use forecasting’ to describe how designers might anticipate and design for the extended use of fashion clothing. Garment design that supports extended use is one strategy with the potential to mitigate the harmful environmental consequences of disposable fashion. Lifecycle assessment studies of clothing conducted in the UK, have shown that even a modest extension to the use phase of clothing can significantly reduce the carbon, water and waste footprint . Much like a fashion designer employs ‘trend forecasting’ to predict future tastes in colors, fabrics and silhouettes, use forecasting anticipates how a garment will likely be worn and potentially repaired, refashioned, recirculated and ultimately recycled. Thus, the capacity for future adaptations that may be necessary or desirable can be incorporated into the garment’s design. The intention is not to predetermine a singular lifetime for all garments of one style, but rather to enable diverse, alternate futures for individual garments. Including within the garment’s design a capacity for modification may help the garment keep pace with the changing needs of the wearer, therefore postponing obsolescence and disposal. Implementing use forecasting within a typical fashion design process is presented in a case study, The Living Wardrobe, within which a series of fashion garments for extended use were prototyped. Strategies for consumer engagement with enduring garments are also discussed.