The I-AVA method. Making sustainability in fashion tangible.
The areas of concern, which fall under the broad umbrella of sustainability and fashion, have long been given prominence by numerous authors within the industry. However, as stated by Hur, Beverley & Cassidy (2013 p. 90), “the term still remains confusing and ambiguous and many designers still find it difficult to understand [this] concept”. While the aim of sustainable fashion may have be- come somewhat clearer than the term itself, the methods of how to achieve sustainability may not be as clear (Aakko & Koskennurmi-Sivonen 2013). The focus on minor aspects, like environmentally friendly fabrics (Hur, Bever- ley & Cassidy 2013) is simply not enough.
The I-AVA method is a systemic methodology that has been developed with the aim of making sustainability in fashion more accessible to designers. Currently, sustainability within the fashion industry is communicated as a separate value, rather than an integral one. This is evidently seen through the lack of education between existing designers; especially SME brands who have tend to have more limited time, money and resources to invest in educating themselves. With a clearly established knowledge gap, it is therefore crucial to begin working from the ground up and begin filling this gap through educational inputs at student levels.
The I-AVA Method has been created to place sustainability in fashion into a systemic framework. It aims to give fashion design students the ability to better understand how sustainability may be applied to the core of their work and potential business. The method focuses on eradicating sustainability as a single issue and tackling it holistically and experientially. By understanding the interconnected ideas of shared value and the stakeholder model, sustainability will be implemented throughout the supply-chain. It is divided into four main action steps (Immerse, Assure, Vocalize and Achieve) containing practical tools and information that are communicated in a simple and more straightforward manner.
Using the Hannover Principles as the main inspiration, the I-AVA method evolves around three ‘mind-set layers’ (Table 2.4). These engage the users with requirements needed to approach sustainability in fashion: empathy, circularity & transparency. These layers will be present in the action step two and three (Vocalize and Achieve) and will guide users to establish their own priorities within the steps. The final output therefore generates an individual sustainable definition for each user.
The I-AVA Method aims to provide a space for designers that equips them with the communication, resources and applicability. The method is built in a way that requires two kinds of actions: ‘standard actions’ and ‘personalised actions’.
The first two action-steps (Immerse and Assure) operate as ‘standard actions’ for all users, ensuring that the basic requirements of sustainability are understood and applied. In understanding the importance for small brands not to tackle too many issues at once (Vinck 2017), the last two action-steps (Vocalize and Achieve) operate as ‘personalised actions’. These allow users to create unique definitions of sustainability in fashion, leading to a more focused, specialized and unique approach. Eventually all four actions will serve as a platform of reflection on which users can trace their definition, allowing them to further implement sustainability as they go along.