Don’t start off your month with a case of cabin fever. Bundle up and head out to Brooklyn tomorrow for a screening of The Next Black, a documentary that explores how out-of-the-box thinking is shaping the future of our clothes. Got questions? Be sure to linger for a post-film discussion with Lovisa Sunnerholm from AEG, Rebeccah Pailes-Friedman of RPF Industrial Design, Henry Yoo of Pratt Institute’s Digital Arts Lab, and Francis Bitonti of Francis Bitonti Studio. Part of Ecouterre and the Pratt Institute’s Brooklyn Fashion + Design Accelerator’s winter film series, the event kicks off a weeklong exhibit about the growing intimacy between technology and fashion. (Geek alert: You’ll even get to see some real-life spacesuits!) To whet your appetite, we caught up with Sunnerholm, one of the film’s producers, to learn more about the innovators behind the film, the evolution of “smarter” clothing, and the questions she hopes viewers will ponder long after the credits roll.
February 3, 2015
6 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET
$10 suggested donation; includes wine, popcorn, and a post-film panel.
Describe The Next Black in a nutshell.
Besides being the most exciting project I’ve ever worked with, The Next Blackis a 45-minute documentary about the future of clothing.
The clothing industry is much characterized by “news”: new collections, trends, colors, cuts; something that becomes quite clear on a week like Fashion Week. In The Next Black, we are looking beyond what’s new to understand what’s next by meeting some of the pioneers in the world who are at the forefront of redefining what we wear.
What inspired the creation of the documentary? How did AEG get involved?
AEG is a home appliance manufacturer (part of Electrolux Group) and fabric care is part of our core business.
We want to develop innovative laundry solutions and, instead of only sitting in our lab to understand what’s next, we want to be out in the world and meet with the pioneers to understand where the clothing industry is heading to be able to predict and shape future washing needs.
We also want to contribute in making the clothing industry more sustainable. It’s a dirty industry, one that accounts for a big part of the pollution in the world. And the way we care for our clothes actually has a big impact.
We work to minimize this impact by developing products that not only have the best energy, water, and detergent efficiency possible, but are also gentle on clothes so they last longer.
But this is not enough. We also want to get people to reflect on how they consume and care for their clothes and The Next Black is a way to do that.
How did you select the film’s participants, such as BioCouture’s Suzanne Lee and Patagonia?
We did tremendous research and spent hours in interviews with people from all around the world with interesting mindsets, projects, and innovations. We chose the cases that we think will have the biggest impact and that really can revolutionize the clothing industry. Covering different fields of the industry was also key for us to make the perspectives complement each other.
We wanted to explore how technology and sustainability can change the industry as this is where we see a dramatic shift taking place.
To explore different ways to make the clothing industry more sustainable, we met BioCouture to learn more about biological material, Yeh Group to understand how to dye clothes using zero water, and Patagonia and iFixIt for their views on how to consume and care for clothes in a more sustainable way.
Why does the future of clothing matter? And how does it relate to regular people?
Clothes is a part of everyone’s daily life so the topic is definitely relevant to all of us
Unfortunately, we live in a reality where today’s trends quickly becomes tomorrow’s trash, and the negative impact that has on the planet affects us all.
We will all need to do our bit to contribute in making conscious choices and care for our clothes in the best ways possible. And integrating technology into what we wear can also have great impact on all of us. It can potentially make us healthier, increase our performance, make us smarter, and even be a solution on how to make the industry more sustainable.
What other companies, not mentioned in the film, do you think are doing great work in advancing “future fashion”?
We do! I’m so proud of our work with sustainability and that was one of the reasons for joining Electrolux two years ago. Laundering your clothes accounts for as much as one quarter of the carbon footprint coming from the clothing industry and besides developing cutting-edge, sustainable machines that really can have a huge effect on the industry since, we also want to guide consumers and creating conversations around the subject. The Next Black is an example of that.
When it comes to technology, it’s not only changing the industry through being integrated into clothes. Technology is also key to develop new business models. When launching the film we worked with Not Just a Label to set up screenings of the film around Europe.
Not Just a Label is a platform for emerging designers offering a platform to sell products, but it also educate its 17,000 designers around topics such as sustainability, production, and marketing. Supporting and giving the power to young and emerging designers opens up for new thinking and innovates the industry.
How do you want people to respond to your film?
We want the film to be an eye-opener, and we hope that people will start to reflect on how they consume and care for their clothes.
We also want it to work as a source of inspiration for influencers such as designers, schools, and politicians.
What do you personally think is the future of clothing?
I’m very excited about it and think we will see some big changes moving forward. New business models will transform the industry and I think hybrid solutions will emerge as a result of different industries collaborating and learning from each other.
I hope that sustainable innovations will reduce the impact on the environment and I really hope that level of information will increase so that consumers can make more conscious choices.