Future. Fashion. Economics | Bookshelf Monthly #17

Let’s look at a fun and clever book today that makes sustainability in fashion business as shiny as never before. 

(And please excuse the previous posting hiccup! 😘)

It’s no secret that I’m a child of the digital age, one hundred percent. I’ve been blogging since the advent of blogging in 2000. I’ve wholeheartedly embraced everything that came via cable and ether as if it were an adventure, a game, and I’ve never separated my life in “online” and IRL, online friends are just friends met online, not an inferior breed of friends. My jobs have often been referred to as “something with computers” or “something with the Internet”, and I’ve been with the “new media” watching it change meaning… Why am I telling you this? Because as a consequence, I genuinely don’t understand it when people don’t get digitalisation.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mock people who feel like foreigners in the digital land – after all, I myself am foreign to so many things: higher math, statistics, stock market – but I’m sometimes frustrated and then I really do feel with Sheldon in that TBBT dream sequence episode:

Sheldon: I know why. You’ve come to me because you’re my Obi-Wan.
Arthur: I’m not familiar with that. Is that an Internet?
Sheldon: …

Lately, I was lucky to attend several events – all across different industries, cosmetics and fashion to name a few – that all focused on the challenges of the digital age. How to engage with consumers on social media? Who must handle digitalisation in the company? How to use digital innovation to secure, to level up the USP? What chances does digitalisation offer? What is digitalisation?

Luckily for people in the fashion industry, there is a book for that that brings together sustainability and innovation: Future. Fashion. Economics. A guide to future-oriented, responsible economic thinking in the fashion industry by Jana Kern and Alex Vogt.

The edition I review here is the 2016 hardcover (approx. €70; first edition), Deutscher Fachverlag GmbH.
The book is bilingual German and English. ISBN 978-3-86641-316-0future-fashion-economics

Meet the Authors

Jana Kern and Alex Vogt are best known to a slow fashion blogger as founders of the Frankfurt/Main and London based agency Kern Kommunikation specialising in corporate responsibility, communications and PR; personally, I’m yet to meet Jana and I’ve met Alex during one of the last Green Showroom fairs that were held in the Hotel Adlon (before the fair moved locations). They understand fashion 360°, the fun of it, and the business of it.

Before I start my review, I’d like to note that the book is most beautifully designed and a pleasure to work with. Work with? Yes. Keep reading 😉

I’ve seen the Future, baby…

The future is knocking, kicking at our door: there is the ecosystem collapsing, the arctic ice melting, the climate change threatening the raw material supplies. There are new economy impulses like Cradle to Cradle, circular economy. There is fast fashion criticism. There is globalisation.

Boring eco babble? Let’s spice it up then! There are novel technologies, 3D printing, never-seen-before fibres! There are intelligent garments, wearable tech, manufacturing on demand and the ubiquitous personalisation spanning shopping habits and fit! Woo-hoo! Woo… hoo?

The authors draft seven different future scenarios – Economic Evolution, Contradictive Consumers, Future Communication, Material Individualligence, The Sharing Society, In Circles, and Thrivability – discussing the merge of the real and digital worlds in multi-channel retail (“phygitalization”), sci-fi-worthy innovation on the edge of a dystopian reality (consumer’s skin as touchscreen; stealth wear). Chapters contain to-do lists, challenge lists and innovator portraits or expert interviews for a deeper understanding.

In the second part of the book the authors offer six comprehensive dossiers: Fibres, Supply Chain, Design, Retail, Communication and Values, all in the light of sustainable (in any sense) development. If you’re in the fashion business and you read this book, you’ll see Corporate Responsibility in a fun light of many new possibilities, promised.

Oooh, fashion!

Overall, the book reads like a coursebook crossed with an industry magazine: you’re crunching numbers presented in colourful, well-designed graphics, you’re reading industry insider interviews, learning about new brands and innovators, enjoying beautiful fashion photography. The 2-column layout is clever, making the bilingual constituent not tiring in the slightest; au contraire – it’s pretty helpful if you want to share your new insights.

I highly recommend this book to anyone in the fashion industry or working with the fashion industry – jewellery, beauty, start ups, publishing, creative industry, strategists, pr specialists – you can find so many insights on how to not just survive digitalisation, but thrive in a way that is holistic and thus, invincible. A clever, inspiring must-read!

Future. Fashion. Economics. A guide to future-oriented, responsible economic thinking in the fashion industry,
Deutscher Fachverlag GmbH


Geeking out about all things truly green, healthy and ethical over at BEAUTYCALYPSE.com (Avatar illustration by A. Goncharenko)

8 Responses

  1. […] Consumers are another hugely important force here. Each couple of cheap tees that you end up wearing once (or never) is an environmental burden that could have been easily avoided. Each piece of toxic garment you don’t buy presses the manufacturers into seeking more sustainable practices. And hey, there are lots of opportunities for them to go green in order to stay relevant. […]

  2. T

    I think such books are interesting in the light of all the studies that come out telling us “yes and no, all is possible”. In terms of fashion industry forecasts. Seems there is more meat to this one!

  3. The challenges and the possibilities are exciting. I am not as much a part of the digital world as you are (not for lack of trying) but I, too, find it odd that many of my peer group are reluctant to be involved in the digital world.

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