Fashion for Good, the Dutch organization dedicated to circular fashion, has opened what it is billing as “the first interactive museum for sustainable fashion innovation.”
Housed in FFG’s 40,000-square-foot building on Amsterdam’s Rokin Street, “the museum” is actually part of a 9,000-square-foot space that also includes a store and a laboratory of sorts. The bulk of the building is dedicated to its incubator for start-ups. Through a series of interactive experiences, visitors will learn about actions they can take to be more responsible consumers.
Going on the premise that fashion is stuck in a “take-make-waste” pattern, which leads to dramatic environmental impact and huge economic losses, FFG is trying to reverse that by educating people and encouraging them to take steps in their own lives. On average, 60 percent more clothing is purchased today compared to 15 years ago, but items are only kept half as long. In addition, about 60 percent of all clothing ends up being burned or in landfills within one year of being made, according to FFG.
The free Amsterdam museum is designed to be interactive with new technologies that prompt visitors to examine their consumption habits and buyer behavior. Guests can learn how their garments are made in order to commit to more responsible behavior such as mending, lending and recycling. They can also shop for sustainable products such as a customized T-shirt that they design and print, on the spot, for 20 euros.
FFG spotlights brands that are pushing the boundaries of Good Fashion. Every three months, new curated collections will be cycled through what are meant to be thought-provoking themes. The current one is “Splash: Rethinking The Role of Water in Fashion.” Visitors will learn how the industry uses 93 billion cubic meters of water to produce clothing. That figure represents 4 percent of all global freshwater used annually. Ocean plastic pollution is another topic. One exhibition is “The Journey of a T-shirt,” which tracks and traces all the various depths of ecological impact as that T-shirt is brought to market, according to Jake Barton of Local Projects, which helped design the museum. But that is not an offshoot of NPR’s 2013 Planet Money exposé on the economics of T-shirts, he said. Each theme will require different brands, “but it runs in parallel,” Barton said.
There are also products from Adidas x Parley, Kings of Indigo, Ecoalf, Insane in the Rain, Karün and Ms. Bay.
“Fashion for Good is special because it’s a much larger endeavor that is really trying to knit together all of these disparate parts of sustainability in fashion and apparel industries into one circular approach. This Fashion for Good experience, which is on three different floors, is for the general public but it also engages industry and consumer behaviors. There is also a section of the building that is just dealing with start-ups, technology providers that are interested in incubating approaches, which through industry contacts are floated up through the larger apparel industry,” Barton said. “It’s not just about what you buy, but how often you buy and how you wash, how you care for your clothes, how you advocate for sustainable policies or engage with different parts of the apparel and fashion industries.”
At the entrance, visitors are encouraged to pick up an “action bracelet,” which is made from recycled plastic dredged from Amsterdam canals. They can then commit to actions and earn badges at different outposts. By pledging to take action, they will receive personalized Fashion Action Plans. The whole interactive, technology-empowered experience is designed to be next-generation retail.