Dear people of tomorrow,

You can always tell yourself “next time”, “later” or “it is not that big of a problem” but in the end it measures up and your children or younger friends might be the ones suffering from your decisions today. There is no plan to make you into a sustainable lifestyle hero and of that I am not a saint either. What we can all do is live consciously and appreciates the environment we live in and think of how we can take part in saving it. Just spare some minutes a day, which will be a good start! I am a fashion designer and I will give you examples from my usual environment and describe sustainability from my point of view. Of course this is only one way of looking at it and I hereby invite you to read through #1 of my series of articles for Sustainica in 2016 -an international fair, conference & art exhibition for sustainable lifestyle and innovation.


Aesthetics of the Real World Edition #1 – “THE CORE” by Stella Achenbach

– Definition of aesthetics in the world of sustainability –

For our purpose we need to distinguish between a common perception of aesthetics and the one used in sustainability. Since sustainability in our context is defined by a social challenge to adjust individual lifestyle that conserves natural resources, I would like to explain our process of aesthetic decision making with the help of 4 of our 5 senses.
Our state of knowledge today knows about five senses which our body has to offer: Visual perception, auditive perception, olfactory perception, perception of taste and of course tactile perception.

A thought experiment: Imagine a neutral store, no price tags, no labelling and of course no sales advisor. Everything you see you can get in your size and you would not need to pay for anything. How would you choose from this collection of clothing? Well, the most common way would be by using your senses: The general look of the outfit, meaning is it well made and did the item undergo a design process before being manufactured. Some clothing gives us the impression of a rich use of fabric. Even though it might seem unusual to you, but the smell of a dress can change your whole perception of it, not to mention the touch. While using your senses as a human being I am pretty sure you would grab the Dior Dress or the Jill Sander coat and not the skirt from Primark or a dress from H&M. Of course I lack empirical reference for this thesis, but as I mentioned this is a thought experiment, maybe you give it a try. One of your counter-arguments might be that we are living in the real world – which is exactly our topic – and granted, not everybody can afford a premium market item.

Well, this is correct but: First of all many of us are consuming way more pieces of clothes than we would actually need. In 2014 the expenses for clothing in Germany almost hit the 80 billion Euro mark, while we had a 1 population of 80 million. If you calculate a per capita you would get about 1.000 Euro for one year. Imagine now, you could spend these 1.000 Euro within one year whenever you like on whatever you like. What would it be? Buying something at a bargain price could be one answer and you could get way more than one item for that kind of money. Or you could decide for one or even a few more special items, which brings me to my second point. I only mentioned well known brands for a better transfer but of course this is not your only option.

Did you ever check for young designers or fashion start ups in your city and even second hand stores? Most probably you will find them, because creative people working passionately with beautiful fabrics are almost everywhere to find: On the internet and of course owning their own little stores, maybe around your corner. Wouldn’t it be fantastic, not only purchasing something with a good consciousness but also getting an individual piece to wear?