On Beat with Trends: How Digital Laboratory Notebooks Can Be Applied in Fast Fashion

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digital laboratory notebooks
Fast fashion is transforming the retail apparel market; however, is not without its problems. Digital laboratory notebooks can help the industry solve some of these issues by increasing accountability.
Image Source: Flickr user Mike Mozart

Our world is unrecognizable from the place it was 20 years ago: smartphones, Google, paper-thin laptops and ubiquitous Internet connectivity has enabled our world to run “faster” than ever before — and the fashion industry has not been immune to such changes. Indeed a contemporary term, “fast fashion,” has come to embody this ethos of fast, faster, fastest. Specifically, fast fashion is used by fashion retailers to express the quick movement of designs from the catwalk to stores, which has increased the fashion seasons from four to two, and sometimes eight. But as these fashions come off the catwalk, instead of entering couture boutiques (as some still do), similar designs and trends are being quickly and inexpensively imitated “to allow the mainstream consumer to buy current clothing styles at a lower price.” Clothing behemoths such as H&M, Zara, Peacocks and Topshop are particularly known for this “just-in-time” manufacturing and production model; however, the benefits of fast fashion for the consumer is increasingly raising serious concerns for the other individuals caught in the rush to produce the latest fashions.

Good for Consumers, Bad for Everyone Else?

Recent incidents, such as the collapse of Rana Plaza in Bangladesh and China’s rivers polluted with dye, suggest that the cost of quickly producing cheaply made clothing is more significant than many have imagined. Additionally, it’s reported that, “secondhand stores process up to five tons of clothing everyday and textile dyes make up ⅕ of water pollution,” suggesting that our love of fashion’s latest products might actually be ruining the environment. As more and more people realize the dangers of fast fashion, some retailers have vowed to address the social and environmental concerns associated with fast fashion by either vowing to eliminate hazardous chemicals used to make certain materials or signing rules that protect the safety of low-wage earners in areas such as India, Bangladesh or Cambodia.

Digital Laboratory Tools Making a Difference

What are other interventions that can assist large clothing retailers in improving the impact of fast fashion? Interestingly, the use of digital laboratory notebooks could assist in improving the impact of fast fashion on our social and environmental health. Here are specific ways in which digital laboratory notebooks can be used to improve fast fashion practices:

Material Science: Material science research is already being used to develop innovative fashion items, such as dresses capable of recharging phones or changing shapes. Similar efforts could be then made to determine materials that are most biodegradable in order to reduce the impact of constantly changing inventories in both stores or in our closets. Beyond being biodegradable, materials could also be developed that are more easily recyclable to encourage people to donate clothing they no longer need. As in any lab, digital laboratory notebooks are an important component of this goal because they enable researchers to carefully and clearly record the results of experimental efforts in a specified password-protected area that enables all members of the team to store important data with their digital laboratory notebooks, while not compromising their privacy.

Social Impact: The Rana Plaza collapse and other situations that revealed the poor living and working conditions of low-wage workers showed the world the costs of fast fashion. However, in 2013 multinational corporations and retailers agreed to work toward improving health and safety measures in the country’s factories. The use of digital laboratory notebooks would only increase the likelihood that these goals are achieved. Digital laboratory notebooks can also be used to encourage multinational brands to better track product contents. If a company is cited a certain number of times, as recorded with digital laboratory notebooks, they should be held responsible so as to prevent further violations. In this way, the use of digital laboratory notebooks could support the growth of positive projects meant to protect workers, while also maintaining the consumers’ needs.

The BIOVIA Notebook has been used in a number of industries to improve worker productivity and the quality of work. They can similarly be used to improve the fast fashion industry by using material science and record-keeping capabilities to move the industry forward. To determine how our digital laboratory notebooks can assist you, please contact us today.

3 thoughts on “On Beat with Trends: How Digital Laboratory Notebooks Can Be Applied in Fast Fashion

  1. I think the fashion industry is one of the least socially responsible industries on the planet. From child labor to poor treatment of the environment, I don’t see them taking any of these changes seriously.

  2. I think that this is a wonderful idea; however, I am concerned at how long it will take before the whole industry gets on board. Until then, the waste, poor conditions, and water pollution will continue on.

  3. Thank you both for your comments. Indeed, the fashion industry can seem very wasteful, but as the effects of climate change, pollution and inequality become increasingly apparent, I hope major retailers and distributors will make the necessary changes.

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