With the world in flux at the moment, we’ve been thinking a lot about the future. And now that we know things will never go back to how they were, it’s an important time to begin considering some of the ways we can make sure things get better — I mean, it’s gotta be only up from here, right? So, one of the areas we’ve been most focused on when it comes to fashion, is how we, as consumers and creators in the industry, can make a positive impact.
We’ve heard a lot of talk about sustainability over the last few years, but it feels like many have a lot of catching up to do before we see full transparency and tangible changes to the industry and its enviro impacts. A pretty big-scale exception to this is our fave sports and leisure brand, Nike. They’ve made giant strides in the sustainability direction lately with their Move To Zero initiative, which aims to bring the brand to a zero-carbon, zero-waste future and find solutions to “help ensure a healthy planet.” This isn’t just marketing speak either — because, as they put it, “if there is no planet, there is no sport” — with this year seeing the release of two of the most sustainable shoes around.
The Space Hippie and the Air VaporMax 2020 Flyknit are made from up to 50% recycled manufacturing waste (aka, trash) by weight and via sustainable manufacturing processes that minimize waste, and water and energy usage. They’ve also been super popular, with the Space Hippie now only on available on resale sites like StockX and FlightClub, and only limited sizes of the VaporMax 2020 still available via Nike stores and select retailers — unless you’re more up for customizing your own version.
Along with the cool but sustainable products, the Nike team is also big on helping everyone learn more about fashion’s impact on the planet and we can all do our bit. Initiatives like their research partnership with the Climate Impact Lab show the connection between climate change and athletic performance and enjoyment, and their Circular Design Guide is a great resource for brands and other designers on where to start when it comes to making product’s we will love in a way that won’t kill the planet.
And now, thanks to a collab with streetwear designer, Alexandra Hackett (aka @miniswoosh), the brand is helping all of us to create our own sustainable creations while we WFH.
The Aussie-born, London-based designer creates sustainable looks (oftentimes from repurposed Nikes), and her innovative label Studio ALCH, through which she creates everything from clothing to furniture, is rooted in Hackett’s circular design philosophy. All of which makes her the perfect guide for us when it comes to a sustainable design workshop — and proving once again that cool clothes can have a social conscious.
“Circular design — the process of designing a product from materials that can be continuously repurposed and recycled to reduce waste — is a core part of my practice,” says Hackett. “When I began my career as a designer, I reconstructed materials and old clothes around me into something new, yet functional.” For her, circular design is “not only a catalyst for creativity but an important way to help protect the future of our planet.”
So, today — at 6 pm AEST to be exact! — the designer is teaming up with Nike to host a Zoom workshop exploring circular design and sustainability in action, which is inspired by the design process of the Air VaporMax 2020. After registering, all you will need is a sewing machine (or needle and thread), a piece of fabric, one set of shoelaces, thin elastic (hairbands will work!), bias binding or ribbon, pins, an internet connection, and a printer to print Hackett’s downloadable pattern.
“This workshop will be a fun way to learn more about the process of creating sustainable design and give you an opportunity to put those skills into practice at home,” she tells us. “I can’t wait to see all the upcycled garments from the participants at the end of the workshop.”
The event is the latest in a series of WFH initiatives Nike has launched to keep us feeling creative throughout quarantine, including a highlight a few months ago when the brand teamed up with Rihanna’s choreographer Parris Goebel on a dance workshop with @officialrequestdancecrew. Today’s collab with @miniswoosh is the brand’s latest effort to keep us productively entertained at home, and also to push not just customers, but the rest of the industry, in a sustainable direction more long term.
For those of us that can’t make tonight’s Zoom sesh, or aren’t quite up to sewing — although Hackett insists “it’s definitely never too late to learn how to sew!” — she is also conscious of helping people make more mindful and sustainable decisions in their shopping and lifestyle habits more generally.
“Take the time to learn about the products you’re purchasing,” she urges. “There are so many stages in the production process, from fabric creation to pattern-cutting to packaging, and each of them plays a major role in the sustainability of a product. For example, the Flyknit yarn in the new Nike Air Vapormax 2020 is made from about 67 per cent post-industrial recycled content by weight including plastic bottle waste, meaning walking in these shoes contributes to diverting plastic waste from landfill.”
It’s also about how we better utilise the things we do buy — not just from a financial cost-per-wear perspective but because of how our individual behaviors all add up when it comes to environmental impacts. To minimise both landfill and waste, “purchase pieces that you intend to own for a long time, and then really consider how you’re going to look after these pieces, for example, by reducing how many times you wash the garment.” It also involves tapping into our own creativity, with “the process of reconstruction and re-purposing items in our current wardrobe offering a great opportunity for people to use their imagination to create new items instead of throwing them away,” she tells us.
For brands and other designers looking to create the types of things that mindful consumers should be buying — start looking into how new tech can help. “I believe the greatest resource for moving towards more sustainable footwear and apparel industries is technology. This is why it’s really important for larger global brands to use their assets, resources, and scale to take the lead in conversations surrounding circular design,” says Hackett. “Initiatives like Nike’s Move to Zero are really inspiring for both independent designers like myself, but also the general public, as they really shed a light on the entire design process.”
And for anyone who is feeling like they need a little more life inspo in general right now, Hackett is (unsurprisingly!) a big advocate for getting outside and getting moving. “I find that I’m my most creative and driven self when I’m keeping active,” she tells us, as “going for runs is a great opportunity to go offline and really engage with the outside world, which I find super inspiring.” She is also a big fan of the NRC (Nike Run Club) app and is focussed on training for a full marathon.
Us, too. See you on Zoom 😊.
Image courtesy of Nike