Better Balance In The Fashion System

What are the most effective ways to reduce the environmental load of fashion? Through new business understanding and new design strategies. Curated by Associate Professor Kirsi Niinimäki.
Future Prototypes collection by Aalto MA student Elina Onkinen and alumni Kasia Gorniak. Photo: Diana Luganski
Tanktop knitted from regenerated yarn, from the Future Prototypes collection by Aalto MA student Elina Onkinen and alumni Kasia Gorniak. Photo: Diana Luganski

With the current hype around circular economy, everything related to recycling is considered positive – but this is only a part of the circular story.

The increasing likelihood of average global temperatures reaching 1.5 degrees Celcius above pre-industrial levels means the urgency in responses from researchers, designers and consumers is critical. We need to create a new understanding in design, promoting a sustainable system-level transformation across the fashion and textile fields.

In the future, the most fashionable and climate friendly garments could emerge from the up-cycling old garments - such as discarded workwear - and recycling textile waste - such as used hand towels - into new fibres. Ecologically sound colourants such as onion skins or willow bark could be sourced from agricultural side streams.   

Sustainable system-level transformation in the fashion and textile fields can be achieved through solid scientific research, the sharing of knowledge, brave experiments and examples of how we we can better design, manufacture, use, and recycle textiles and garments. That's why we have created the "Prototypes of the future 2030" concept.

Some circular economy strategies are more effective in reducing the environmental load that others. Better Balance showcases clothing designed by Aalto students with a focus on slow fashion and slow consumption.

The exhibition and webinar show how to apply the most effective strategies and business models in practice and reminds the audience that reducing consumption is still key.

Curated by Associate Professor Kirsi Niinimäki. 

> Read more about sustainable global textile solutions, FINIX
> Read more about the Webinar and Register

BioColour 2022
Look from BioColour Linen collection by Aalto MA student Elina Onkinen and alumni Kasia Gorniak. Photo: Helen Korpak.

BioColour x Elina Onkinen & Kasia Gorniak

The BioColour Linen collection explores the use of linen fabric industrially dyed with natural colorants from onion skins and willow tree bark. Alongside the use of naturally dyed fabrics, the collection explores sizing versatility in garments, through the use of tie fastenings and voluminous cuts. 

By substituting synthetic colours with natural ones we are able to lower the environmental impacts of textile industry. Traditionally natural dyes’ raw materials are plants, flowers, barks and mushrooms picked from the forest. Currently natural and bio-based colorants can be sourced in an industrial scale from cultivated colour plants and from side streams of food industry or agriculture (waste material). In the future they are even possible to grow in a lab with the help of synthetic biology.

BioColour project

The BioColour research project develops new solutions for biocolourant production, characterization and application. Forest and food industry side streams are investigated as sources for dyes and pigments to foster eco-efficiency. This research also focuses on agricultural sources and microbes which produce colourants.

In addition to dyes and pigments, the BioColour project studies cultural, social and ethical aspects of biocolourants. This project aims to invoke discussions about ‘novel aesthetics’ with product experiments and art exhibitions – it provides an opportunity to question synthetic colourants’ position as the ‘norm’.

> Read more about the research project, BioColour

Taneli Ukura
Look from Taneli Ukura''s MA Collection. Photo: Sofia Okkonen

Taneli Ukura

MA Student Taneli Ukura’s thesis work focuses on studying and creating an alternative pattern-making methodology under the principles of zero-waste pattern-cutting. Practical standards and qualities of modern-day clothing are translated into simplified pattern units, rectangular frames within which all the cutting for the garment happens. With certain focal points and fixed areas defined, the pieces can be composed around the body to give a garment its needed functions. Through the addition of elements of adjustability and modularity, the playing with these toys can be never-ending.

> See more of Taneli's work

Pyry Rämö
Look from Pyry Rämö's BA Collection. Photo: Sofia Okkonen

Pyry Rämö

BA Student Pyry Rämö's collection combines re-purposed materials with textiles inspired by mould and other 'undesirable' elements. The collection demonstrates an intuition which cannot be executed in bulk or classified as a microtrend.

> See more of Pyry's work

Look from Ellen Rajala's MA Collection. Photo: Sofia Okkonen

Ellen Rajala

MA Student Ellen Rajala's collection is inspired by and made from her own archive of vintage clothing, including self-made pieces sourced from family and friends. The collection gives new life to pieces which would otherwise be gathering dust. Through her approach, Rajala encourages other designers to utilise material that already exists, and not to be afraid of the challenges that comes with that. 

> See more of Ellen's work

We need systemic and fundamental changes in the textile and fashion industry’s business model.

Sustainable textile systems: Co-creating resource-wise business for Finland in global textile networks (FINIX)

Sustainable textile systems: Co-creating resource-wise business for Finland in global textile networks (FINIX) is a joint research project with the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE), VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland and Aalto Design Research among others.

Department of Design
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Department of Design

The Department of Design is a diverse community of competent, creative and responsible individuals. In design, we appreciate technical skill, social significance and artistic expression.

Stack of management books.

Department of Management Studies

The Department of Management Studies offers a dynamic environment for scholarship and learning.

Life 1.5 in black font and Designs for a Cooler Planet logo on a white, fragmented background.

Life 1.5 – an exhibition of planet-friendly materials, fashion and food

Designs for a Cooler Planet is a five-week-long festival celebrating experiments in planet-friendly materials, fashion, and food.

Black font stating "Wear the future." and Designs for a Cooler Planet logo on a white, fragmented background.

Wear the future!

Slow and more sustainable textiles, clothing and fashion systems.

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