Sportswear giant Nike has created an app that lets designers research their environmental impact.
A new app from Nike, called Making, takes designers through a step-by-step process for choosing fabrics based on their environmental credentials. Making then ranks materials on how environmentally friendly they are, taking into account water, chemistry, energy and waste.
The information compares each material and rates it accordingly, giving each a score out of a possible 50. It also looks at whether a material uses recycled or organic content.
The data for the app comes from the Nike Materials Sustainability Index, a database the brand says it has built up over seven years of research and analysis.
Lee Holman, vice-president of apparel design at Nike, says of the app: “We’ve created the Making app to empower any designer to make better materials choices to ultimately create products that are better for consumers and the planet.”
Ricky Moakes, colour and materials designer at Lacoste Footwear, says: “The app would be handy but I’d look at it for research purposes rather than as a day-to-day tool. I think those working in other categories such as high-end or performance-driven lines would be more likely to use it because they’ll have the budget to be able to make these material choices and will have a consumer that is more likely to be reactive to the type of material used - the consumer we go after is much more worried about price.”
Jilly Richards, womenswear designer at young fashion brand Superdry, agrees price is a big factor. “I love the concept, it’s great to understand the impact fabrics have on the environment. However, cost is always a key factor,” she says.
“Although silk ranks higher than viscose on the base material score, it’s not always feasible to use silk instead of a synthetic due to the cost price. Therefore the app is something interesting to keep in mind and creates better understanding of the fabrics we use, but I wouldn’t entirely base my choices on using it.”
Nike says it is committed to sustainability and wants to put its research to good use and be seen as a leader in helping the industry become more environmentally friendly.
By working with student designers at the London College of Fashion’s Centre for Sustainable Fashion, Nike hopes to inspire a new generation of designers to build sustainability into the development of products. Students using the Making app could see how to choose materials with lower environmental impacts without compromising on design.
While many retailers still see sustainability as a challenge, a product like Making that encourages awareness to start at the early design stage is certainly something that can hopefully boost sustainable thinking.