UCRF is running a ‘Member of the Month’ feature on this blog, where a member, selected at random from the membership database, is sent five questions to give us all an overview of our members. Our third participant is Vinit Jain.
- How would you sum up your research/practice?
I am a designer, and research has been an intrinsic part of my life. My journey as a researcher in sustainability started over a decade ago with my quest to understand and know this term and field, which led me to learn the concepts of sustainable design and Sustainable Development. This long journey continued to reinforce my understanding that fragmented views lead to contradictions and the fixed ones hinder exploration. Besides, we ought to follow the natural system as we are a part of it. My latest significant research in the field of sustainability and fashion focused on the value maximization opportunities from resources and the development of a circular business model that supports realignment of the current waste generating Apparel Consumption System (ACS) with the natural system.
- How do you address fashion and sustainability in your work?
Fashion—a psychological need that has been exploited and used to accelerate consumption for economic growth which in turn has made sustainable fashion an oxymoronic phrase. I try to exercise my ability to see the things as they are, without any intrinsic or learnt biases and then connect the fragments to propose improved solutions to make sustainable fashion a reality. We all know that the fragmented solutions and quick fixes often lead to broader issues, and I try to stay away from them as much as I can while continuing to be a part of the system that is not yet regenerative.
I work in the manufacturing sector where the demands of the brands drive my work. Within those confinements, whenever I get an opportunity, I try to nudge either by doing the required or by asking the questions needed. It is indeed a slow process, but it does create ripple effects. Besides, a few years back, I started transitioning my work from physical to 3D digital design for its enormous potential to reduce the negative impacts of my work. The past six months have been excellent from the perspective of it getting wider acceptance. Besides, I finally wrote my first blog post a couple of weeks back, and I intend to continue to populate it with what I perceive.
- What are the conflicts you have encountered around fashion and sustainability in your work?
There is an apparent duality in my work; hence the conflicts are bound to be there. The one that bothers me the most is the demand to create better products but at the same or lower cost. Apart from that, here are some other broader yet critical ones that I believe not only me but many of us concerned researchers encounter:
-The conflict between desire and the ability to act
-The fragmented use of SDGs for strategy development
-The conversations about consumption reduction and job protection but without considering required changes in the business model and the prevailing system
-The fragmented efforts to improve the performance of the industry but without addressing discount culture, and changing business model and the economic system
-The talks, measures, and commitments to accelerate the implementation of the circular economy but with almost negligible attention on building capacity to turn used material in new products (upcycling) before recycling it.
- What do you consider the key sources and cases when it comes to fashion and sustainability?
SDGs provide a broad base to explore and begin. It is hard to point at one or a few out of so many critical seminal and academic works of literature that address different aspects of fashion and sustainability .
- Could you recommend some less known sources or cases you think should be more widely shared?
I find the weekly blog posts of GOBLU a comprehensive news source to keep me updated with the efforts and happenings related to fashion and sustainability across the globe.