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by Bela Shehu on May 14, 2020

The Way Forward: A Fashion Manifesto



Dear friends,

In our last post, we teased a conversation about one of our recent sources of open source inspiration, the Open Source Fashion Manifesto. Created by innovators and design students, Martijn van Strien & Vera de Pont, the manifesto is a compelling roadmap towards a more sustainable future of fashion.

Now, we believe there are many ways to do any one thing — this manifesto presents just one pathway. But what makes it so compelling is its clarity. In beautiful simplicity, van Strien and de Pont give readers, with varying relationships to fashion, a way to identify the industry’s flaws and visualize a better way forward.

We encourage you to read it for yourself to understand how, through van Strien and de Pont’s ideas for sustainable fashion methodologies, we can slow things down and make them last.






Hello, my name is Fashion, Mode, Moda, Mote. 

I’m a global presence, but I’m experienced differently by every single one of you. I help you express your identity, style, values, culture and mood. 


I’ve been around for ages, but I haven’t been the same for two days in a row. Times change and so do I. This is me asking you to change your perception of me once again. However, this time I’d like to ask you to not just think about what I should be like today, but to keep in mind what you’ll want me to be tomorrow as well. 

Can you help me last a little bit longer? 

I want to stay relevant, have a voice. I want to be worn, and also re-used. I want to be designed to last, for more than one season. I want to be enjoyed by everyone without polluting our planet. I want to be produced by people who are happy and proud of what they make. 




Over the past few years the scale of the fashion industry has grown massively. It globally distributes stylish garments to the masses, and makes them available for the majority of us. This growth is fueled by large fashion corporations that can quickly produce large quantities of garments. Affordable, yet based on global trends and runway styles and made even more desirable by marketing and branding. 

Garments are being ‘consumed’ like never before. Fashion has evolved into a fast-paced production system that never sleeps, providing us with almost anything we want in the blink of an eye. Products are delivered to our doorsteps, without the need to even leave our houses. We experience this form of consuming as the ultimate luxury. To be able to buy anything we like, whenever we want it, with the least amount of effort. 

Nevertheless, an awareness has been growing among many of us. That this constant supply of products also comes at a price: 

- That production can not grow infinitely, our planet is running out 

of resources. - That we can’t keep discarding used items of clothing without 

wondering where they will end up. - That it’s impossible to maintain the low prices asked for garments 

now, and at the same time pay those who manufacture them a fair wage. 

We have become conscious of the impact this system has on our peers and environment, and with this we feel a need for change. 

A sustainable future for fashion asks for a drastically different outlook on the way we experience and value fashion. The 21st century brings us many opportunities for a technology fueled revolution, that could help us shape this new perspective on fashion. 

We would like to introduce you to our ideas in this manifesto. 


We live in a curious and critical society, where sharing information has never been more easy. 

In the same way that we’d like to know where our food comes from, we are becoming more and more curious and aware of where all our other daily products are coming from. 

What are the materials used in my pants? Where is cotton grown? Who constructed my coat? 

We want clothes that tell us their story: How they were made, where, by whom, and from which materials. This makes it possible for us to make an informed decision about the value of the garment. This information should be freely available and easy accessible. That way we can choose a garment that reflects the beliefs we stand for, and be proud of wearing it. Buying these garments will help us support the people who are working according to these beliefs, and makes it possible for them to continue doing what they love.


What if you could have the ability to create a garment for yourself? 

To have the option to adapt the design completely to perfectly fit your own body? And to use a material that exactly matches your aesthetic and usability wishes? 

Involving consumers in the creation of fashion adds a priceless value and personal connection to each garment. It positively influences how they are experienced, worn and cared for. 

When working according to the open-source principles, the fashion industry will become an online-based community. Designs, materials and instructions are shared. They guide us to produce our ultimate styles, made to measure for each of us. No more copied styles and turning up at a party to discover you’re wearing the same dress as someone else. All our garments will be unique, perfectly fitting and irreplaceable. 


Ever since its introduction to the public in the 1990’s, the internet has influenced the way we think about information, communication and the sharing of ideas and knowledge. In recent years this has brought us the “Open-Source” principle, in which we share the very foundations of our ideas and designs. They are free for others to use, adjust and improve. We believe this makes our products and services fundamentally better, just because we can accomplish more together than individually. 

Today we design products in digital formats, and even produce them straight from the computer, without the need for trained craftsmen. By using 3D printers and laser-cutters, we have become makers ourselves. We get our support and instructions from communities on social networking sites or in ’Fablabs’ and ‘Makerspaces’. 

These new ways of sharing and fabrication introduce exciting new opportunities for the production of fashion, in terms of customization and made-to-measure styles. It has opened the door for an interaction between designer and consumer, where design becomes a shared effort with input from everyone involved. By sharing designs on the web, customers all over the world will have easy access to garment designs, will have the chance to digitally personalize them, and will be able to produce them in a facility close to their home. 


Besides the benefits to users in terms of personalization, a more local production of garments will be hugely beneficial to our efforts to lessen the environmental impact of the entire industry. Production is done only on demand, eliminating the need for stocks and the risk of having to waste them at the end of a season. Modular garments can be assembled by ourselves, which ensures we will not dispose of them as soon as one part is damaged. Instead, we can replace parts that we re-make locally and re-assemble our garments over and over again, making them last much longer. 

Modern production techniques can re-use the materials of which our clothing is made in many different applications. PET bottles become garments, become tools, and become bottles again. With no waste materials leaving the industries, the negative toll on our surroundings will decrease immensely. Instead of growing new materials in ideal climates, we will give new meaning to our waste by up-cycling it to fresh new garments. 


As consumers we are becoming increasingly aware of our ability to influence the design of products we use. Becoming a prosumer (producer + consumer) is the ultimate expression of this influence. By teaching ourselves and new generations the basics of 3D-printing and laser cutting, we can create any type of object from digital designs made available in open-source communities. We’ll never have to rely on others to make our ideal products, but do it ourselves instead. 

This not only lets us use our favorite materials, but gives us total control of every aspect of the production process. It ensures the final product reflects our values and beliefs, and makes it possible to express our individual creativity. 

We can make products whenever we need them. A black dress, laser cut in minutes at the hotel lobby and assembled in time for a late-night party. Or a new pair of running shoes, printed overnight for a morning run on the beach at our holiday destination. 


The designer of the future works with all these new technologies in an open-source community. Instead of receiving ready-made garments, prosumers are provided with the needed frameworks and tools to produce them. The designer becomes a connector, collaborating with -and bringing together- specialized people from different disciplines such as programming, biology and engineering. 

The designer works with programmers to provide users with an adjustable blueprint in digital code. Just like software, this shaped blueprint is programmed to be adjustable and open for users to play around with. Innovative materials are developed in collaboration with biologists and engineers, giving our garments the qualities we seek, and remaining 100% recyclable after use. 

The future designer is a facilitator, developing the platform for designing and creating the final garment. Keeping this process as easy and accessible as possible, the designer provides us with access to sustainable materials, educates us in new ways of constructing garments and inspires us to add our own final touch to the pieces. 


We are entering into a new era of common property. The most successful businesses in the past few years have been services that allow us to share our property with others. Often facilitated by the internet, this created communities that are self-organised and work towards a shared outcome from which we all benefit. 

In fashion, businesses will offer new ways to bring designers and consumers closer together and allow for more personally designed and better fitting garments. 

This will be done by making the sharing and purchase of designs easier, or by coordinating access to production facilities. Companies will rise that collect used garments and recycle them into sustainable fabrics, creating a closed material loop. 

Fashion retail will change from selling large quantities of the same garments to many, towards more personal, service-based systems. As future consumers we will no longer buy and individually own garments, but pay for the use of them. Services could provide clean white t-shirts and take care of washing, repair & end-of-life recycling, and will be rewarded for doing this in ethical and sustainable ways. 

Having full responsibility over the life-cycle of the products they offer, the focus would shift towards better quality and a more personal approach of clients. They will be here to provide us with whatever we need, how we need it, and when we need it. 


This is it, I’ve said my piece. I hope you will look at my potential with fresh eyes form now on. 

I expect you to do what you feel is right, and above all, what you feel you will enjoy most. Take matters into your own hands, don’t wait for someone else to make the first move. Be proud of the chance you have, to influence me and my future. No change can be too small, start with yourself, or join communities that are already making a change. 

I am looking forward to a renewed interaction. Help me communicate your personal stories. Use me to feel confident. Wear me for comfort. 

I hope to stick around in a better form, make me last. 



We’re curious to know what you think. Did the manifesto speak to you? Have you explored different routes you’d like to share? Please, let us know!



To download, click here:  Open Source Fashion Manifesto

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