An amalgamation formed by the terms "hack" and "marathon". A hackathon is a shortcut to find solutions or draw a path with intensity; a happy hour, or several hours, of ideas. An iteration which aimed to bring together a group of professionals in an environment of recognizing challenges and their respective solutions, in the most diversified fields and industries.
The Check Point platform has been positioning itself alongside the usual calendar of Lisboa Fashion Week, as a meeting point for makers and thinkers, ready and able to create connections between sectors and professionals in the national Fashion industry, but also from its wide peripheries. An environment for discussion of the past and the present has been provided, but also of a future that wants to be democratized and collaborative; the objective is common to all actions: to contribute for the construction of a stronger and fairer industry, which allows the entry and circulation of new ideas and solutions which strengthen the creative tissue.
In order to provoke and generate solutions, but also to make us travel to the future, ModaLisboa joined FTinnovation to create the first Fashion Hackathon in Portugal. Inserted in the Check Point platform of the Awake edition, this moment could not be more opportune and symbolic: we were surrounded by tools, thinkers, doers and young generations ready to collaborate and take the testimony; information is infinite, available to everyone and allows for unprecedented individual and community growth and re-education; but the future is created in the present and it was in a “relay race” moderated by the designer and innovation manager Fernanda Torre, who facilitated the active discussion between 12 professionals linked to the Fashion industry throughout the most diversified areas such as communication, design , legislation, business and technology: Diogo Morais Oliveira, Lawyer focused on human and copyright rights; Rita Cortes Valentes, Ethical Designer; Ana Costa, Partner in the Catalyst Future Fashion chain; Vanda Jorge, Coolhunter at Jornal ECO; Pedro Noronha Feio, Designer at O Capelista Design Studio; António Vasconcelos, Director of The Natural Step and Sustainability Officer at Planetiers World Gathering; João Meneses, General Secretary of BCSD Portugal; Sandra Dias, founder of Terramotto; Joana Lacerda and Lívia Pinent from ThePowerHouse and OfundamentO; Patrícia Domingues, Fashion and Beauty PR Account and Inês Veiga, Researcher and Social Designer.
Like Hackathons of other natures, this one tried to provoke and explore thoughts that would open doors to new possibilities and allow the creation of foundational guidelines or pillars for action for the months and years ahead.
“The pace of change has never been this fast, yet, it will never be this slow again” was the quote that launched these two days of reflection for action; the pace of change is not the same as yesterday, and it will not be the same as tomorrow, so acting in the present to shape a future that goes against predictions is a very powerful mindset.
“Guessing the future is not relevant, but understanding that our present actions influence tomorrow; uncertainty is an opportunity to influence and work with the future”.
The starting point is a range of facts already well known inside and outside the system: Fashion is one of the most polluting industries in the world, as well as representing a large share of Portuguese industry and exports, however, the country brings together a number of factors and advantages to lead the change in the level of production, geographical situation and creative fabric. The territorial area cannot be a topic of discussion, when Portugal is also made of tradition, innovation, know-how and creativity, a combination that calls for the ultimate gathering of forces and fine-tuning of strategies and purposes, so that real change and growth can happen.
METHODS AND TOOLS
After a presentation of the current context and scenario, the Hackathon started-up with a team building exercise, which allowed participants to get to know each other better, followed by an in-depth discussion of the various sustainability challenges in Fashion; this allowed the definition of four pillars in which the participants looked, and shared their perspectives for the future: Heritage, Consumption, Production and Technology.
Working groups were formed and for each of these pillars, premises were created for the creation of utopias (products and services), analysed and explored for their practical content. In this space of reflection and projection, the participants were also able to show their skills as thought leaders in the national context, a statute that makes them capable of designing a strategy (made up of visions, perspectives, consciences, and realities) and demonstrating the necessary steps for its execution. At the end of the presentation of the projects, the 4 principles designed for each of the areas covered in this Hackathon were presented, taking the shape of a Manifesto.
"Heritage must be boosted in an ambitious logic of new regional centralities, oriented towards the creation of sustainable value. Rediscovery of heritage, as the sustainable basis for the creation of value in economic activities in a more comprehensive regional perspective, breaking seals and borders. Its unique characteristics in each region must be creatively predisposed to the service of wider communities, creating a dynamic of strong attraction and job growth, in which we become connected with our origins, starting from there to the world."
The first group to present its proposal was dedicated to the Heritage pillar; Patrícia, António, Sandra and Pedro took advantage of their inter-disciplinary dynamics and combined skills (from the fields of design, strategy and communication) in order to reach new horizons; the result culminated in a bet on decentralization as a method of expansion and evidence, of the Portuguese material and intangible heritage: a departure from the great metropolises and habitual points of cultural strength, would be the key to create a focus on local wealth and establish new ties within the country itself, but also with the rest of the world.
This “turning of the map” could also contribute to the reorganization of population density, through stimulating the repopulation of these places, such as job creation, support for displacement and the creation of events that celebrate and promote these opportunities. Future generations would be one of the key pieces of this new centrality, constituting a target that needs to be encouraged to open horizons and to seek building creative communities in spaces that have long needed cultural and generational revitalization. In a society that is increasingly exhausted and fed up on ideas, the return to origins and the search for identity are worth gold and may be found in these possible hubs for the future.
The result of this vision (developed through the backcasting methodology), took the shape of a written news, dated March 8, 2030:
“Covilhã hosts the next edition of the biggest Fashion event in the country, in the same week it opens the interactive museum of arts and crafts, considered one of the best in Europe. “Think well to act better”, this is the motto of the Fashion event made possible by the new centrality of Covilhã, as an articulated pole of the great intra-border region involving 8 million people. This new market, driven by a new technological generation, boosted the launch of new brands, betting on the regeneration of heritage and leveraged on local knowledge and traditions, repositioning Portugal as a creator of new concepts of Fashion and luxury. "What is curious to note, is that this reinvention happens beyond the field of Fashion", explains the director of the event; in fact, in the last 3 years there has been an acceleration in the transition from the concepts of Fashion to Architecture, Health, Tourism, and Education, the result of a coalition of new regional leaders. Working collaboratively with each other, the event results from a community spirit that embraces the country and the peninsula. “It is with great pride that I have followed this process since its beginning, which represents a great commitment by the mayors of the great Beira-Castela region”, explains the mayor, who says that only considered returning to the territory, as a result of the great ambition of leadership from the region in the Iberian panorama. It was through this ambition that we managed to reverse migratory movements outside the region, and attracted 2.5 million people. It is curious to note that in this event, there will be 3 great entrepreneurs with origins in the region, who will return after 20 years attracted by the new dynamics and moved by a sense of retribution for their origins. They created brands born in the region and with a tendency to social and economic sustainability, heavily leveraged in technology, which allowed them to build great brands and affirm themselves as international leaders. All of this, at the same time that both the region and Portugal, can congratulate themselves for being at the forefront of sustainable development goals, a reality that began to take shape 10 years ago, when the first stones were launched at the Hackathon of ModaLisboa Awake, in March 2020.”
"The change in consumption of Fashion, needs to involve a rescue to the origins; education is the strategy to awaken Fashion to the creation of a collaborative ecology, where the search for happiness is the balance".
Diogo, Vanda, Ana and Lívia came together to present a pedagogical plan to be introduced in schools, which aims to encourage responsible consumption close to the younger generations. They began by shifting the focus not to changing behavior patterns, but to changes in the capitalist system, reversing the usual cycle of responsibility; the return to education and ecology would then be the new starting point, in an attempt to create new molds of a behavior so ingrained (and normalized) in modern culture. The moment of the Industrial Revolution brought with it unprecedented transformations; we are talking about great socioeconomic advances, but also about a new “gene” that has continued to evolve alongside the human being: the consumption gene. 200 years later, and the act of buying a new dress, triggers a good dose of serotonin for our system; but it turns out that we have been drinking from the wrong source.
Inspired by the United States Declaration of Independence, which defends the right of human beings to freedom, life, and the pursuit of happiness, the group recovered the concept of the pursuit of happiness and well-being, as a positive collaboration between beings and the planet: “Coolaborative” Ecology.
“Cool Ecology kits would be offered to primary and secondary schools, so that they could be worked on by teachers, within the scope of education and citizenship. We realized that educational content already exists for consumption in school programs, so what we propose is the use of what already exists on the ground, offering materials that can be used in the context of the classroom.”
Students, as recipients of this new approach, would also be engines for the replication of ideas, equipped with great communication tools such as social media (Tik Tok, memes), where they could share their ecological journey. However, we cannot fail to notice how today's young generations can also be providers of ideas and knowledge; we are currently talking about GenZ and Alpha, who have strong opinions and a great social and environmental awareness, which can and do a lot to contribute to cycles and counter-cycles, where young and old teach and learn, thus being able to elevate the concept of “Cool Ecology” to the maximum.
To promote the relationship with Nature in a practical way is another of the great objectives of this plan, given the intrinsic relationship between the survival of the biosphere and the human being; for this purpose, in each kit, students would also be able to find a seed to plant, leaving each one in charge, to look after their new “partner”. In a larger plan that points to the birth of national and world communities, the results of this program would be published on a digital platform, to measure the ecological footprint of each school. In order to adapt the program to each region of the country, collaboration proves to be the key to a more conscious and personalized kit, and then to the rest of the world, where it could be replicated.
"Fashion production must be regenerative, and not predatory, this is the origin of the entire chain and equally responsible, for setting a motto of change towards new, more sustainable forms of production, despite the creation of more humane and decentralized experiences, for the discovery of new opportunities."
The third group, consisting of Joana, Inês, Rita and João, explored the pillar of Production. The team wanted to strengthen relations between the final consumer and all those involved in the construction of a garment, but also to think about production as a promoter of social sustainability, transparency, demystifying the roots of production and as an element that adapts to changing paradigms.
They foresaw an app capable of offering support (and transparency) in the creation and consequent production of tailor-made and on demand clothing. The customer would have access to a vast database made up of national fashion designers, suppliers of textile waste used for making the pieces and, finally, a list of professionals and services near their location, who would be able to help in the creation of the piece. In this way, the client would get closer to the creative process and its stakeholders, while building positive thinking about what it means to produce responsibly.
When we think of national territory, it is inevitable to feel how this application has great potential. Portugal is a country made of makers of all scales and natures; from the big assembly lines, through to the small businesses, to the grandmothers who make a knit sweater of unique series. We are well aware that large productions are assured, but we, as informed and aware consumers, would have the opportunity here to take control over what it means to buy a new garment. And all of this, in national territory. The phenomenon of decentralization would happen in the building next door, because our neighbour was now developing patterns on demand; at the same time, a factory would supply deadstock fabrics for those same small orders; previously ignored questions, would jump to the front line and become flags of this way of consuming: “who made my piece? who designed it? what is the origin of the fabric? ”... all this would have an answer to the naked eye. And suddenly, a thousand and one horizontal and local small production hubs are born, which would not only combat overproduction, but also contribute to changing paradigms, industry transparency and fostering a growing sharing economy.
“We tried to return to the roots of production, DIY, and turn it into a more luxurious and cool experience; only then will we be able to influence the remaining audience to achieve this type of attitude. At the business model level, part of the money generated by the project would be invested in the training of local communities; we know that originally the target is the luxury market, but the idea is to reach other layers of society, promoting a more democratized sharing economy.”
Portugal brings together the most diverse characteristics and aptitudes to reinvent itself towards a more sustainable future in Fashion. The three idealized utopias showed that we have tools to elevate what already exists, but also what is left behind.
Heritage shows us who we are and, in times of saturation, the return to the origins allows us to rethink the future and find new spaces to develop it. Portugal is full of these places, ready to be rescued. Portugal needs to explore and find new centers within itself.
Consumption, as an act of environmental irresponsibility, needs to be transported to schools, centers of human development. We need to educate about the relationship between our well-being and the balance of planet Earth and starting early is important, close to the younger generations. Understanding this relationship will allow an unconscious (but conscious) reorganization of what is truly essential to human beings. Collaboration is the main engine and social networks play in favour of building a wide-reaching network.
The production and creation of clothing are processes that can get closer to people. This approach will allow a greater understanding of the impact of the Fashion industry on the environment. It is necessary to ask the right questions, to know the origin of the products we consume and to compact with systems that “force” us to look closer for solutions.
Technology takes on the umbrella effect and houses the remaining pillars within itself, manifesting as the ultimate partner of the future of Fashion:
"Technology in Fashion, should serve above all the biosphere and the ethical realization of the human being; digitization in Fashion must consider the needs of sustainability and the biosphere, and facilitate a dialogue with all relevant actors and the transformation of the industry, with a view to the ethical treatment of humans in the value chain and consumers."
Collaboration was the key and thought and consideration of the challenges of the present as seeds for the opportunities that the future may offer us. We witnessed with this first step of ideation an inspiring movement of people and ideas for the future. The principles for change were reflected.
The future is now and we hope to contribute so that this seed generates several fruits for what lies ahead for the national fashion industry in the months and years to come. In a movement of positive, collaborative and responsible change towards people and the environment, generating value for society and impacting the economy.