Kent State University, USA
Parsons School of Design, USA
The future of the fashion designer: Changing concepts of the designer and consumer relationship in the age of sustainable practice
The traditional practices of the fashion designer should be no longer acceptable in an industry marked by unfettered consumption, resource depletion, and unethical practices. Globally, the garment industry prioritises profitability over the environment and business ethics. To garner optimal profits, designers influence their consumers’ social-psychological motivations and synthesize these with their mastery of aesthetics. However, rather than relying on these actions to create profit alone, future designers must focus on creating profit through higher purposes and values. In doing so, fashion designers will make significant contributions to a truly sustainable future in which the environment and people are protected, and fashion businesses thrive.
This paper proposes a future fashion industry in which designers elevate their creative freedom and motivation to significantly innovate beyond the facile. In this scenario designers extend their talents by creating compelling ethical and creative narratives that inspire consumers’ responsibility. The authors first present an overview of the burgeoning concepts in the practices of design and retail. Then, applying Sustainable Product Service Systems (SPSS) as a theoretical framework, the authors propose an enhanced model for the design and retail practices so they may better engage with consumers for a holistically more efficient, sustainable, and cost-effective future.
Additional proposals are made for the future of design education in support of the changing needs of the fashion industry. Students must gain an increasing awareness of advanced systems thinking, strategic planning, sustainable methods, and consumer psychographics well before entering professional practice. As a result, future designers will be instilled with a deeper understanding of their audience’s preferences while successfully advancing the future industry’s sustainable and ethical operations. This paper advances a proposed manufacturing system based on the existing research literature surrounding the influential relationship between the designer and the consumer, and how to best shape an individual sense of fashion and responsibility for a more sustainable future.