What if you thought of fast fashion in more food-like terms, with shelf lives and expiration dates? How would that influence the way you approach the choices you make about what you put on your body and what characteristics you expect it to have? If you knew your apparel was biodegradable, would you buy more or less? Design Shahar Asor decided to explore these questions in her material research project called "Best Before."
On Instagram, Asar describes it as a "research project that offers to reconcile the contradiction between long shelf life of a garment and the unquestionable need to change our wardrobe by applying an expiration date concept to the fashion industry." Her target audience, it turns out, is kids. Or, at least, the parents of kids.
The designer used a double bed knitting machine to create knitted pairs of shoes with visibly woven texture for children. The upper part of the shoe is unmistakably soft and stitched together, almost like mittens made by a concerned grandmother ahead of winter. The sole of the shoe is harder, and yet flexible enough for convenience and mobility. After a certain amount of time, these biodegradable shoes begin to break down, literally becoming one with the environment eventually.
Made in collaboration with the industrial research department at the Bezalel Academy in Jerusalem, Asor wanted to ask, "What if we could buy clothes the same way we buy milk?" Designboom reports, namely, "according to our objective needs and taking into account the expiration date of the product?"
How "Best Before" works — The shoes are made up of biodegradable textile material, and they react differently depending on the physical environment they are in. In an arid environment with little to no moisture, Best Before shoes are like regular fits. Kids can play, run, hop, and do whatever they like in them.
On the left foot, however, Best Before mentions that the shoes will disintegrate and dissolve upon the next round of laundry. Its maker says it has no harmful effect on the physical environment, which is a decidedly different approach to much of the fashion industry.
Making sustainability fashionable — Slowly but surely, researchers and designers are joining teams to flip the fashion industry on its head. We have flip flops made out of algae, a 100 percent recycled jacket from Uniqlo, fungus potentially replacing real leather, and extensive scientific research on processing and separating cotton from other fibers, and more.
That doesn't stop the larger problem of consumption, though, which is that even recycled or upcycled goods are created they're still more things entering the world that could, themselves, eventually land up in landfills. Biodegradable clothing could solve that problem while still ensuring companies have products to sell and the fashion machine can continue to go brrr.