JAMAIS VU - A Circular Fashion
OCAD University Industrial Design Thesis Project
A garbage truck full of clothes is thrown into a landfill every second, and we throw the clothes out just because we can.
JAMAIS VU is a conceptual solution to fashion's unsustainable practices. French for "never seen," an illusory experience where the familiar suddenly feels unfamiliar. It romanticizes the storytelling of garments and encourages a circular economy. Stories are told through tags with Bluetooth Low Energy chips, where users access through their phones. Each garment has an archive filled with memories and experiences, giving an agency to users to integrate unique individuality into their garments. It also provides a platform to recirculate clothes ready to be passed on, entrusting both the garment and story to new owners, helping close the loop.
JAMAIS VU aims to bring back the notion of emotional connection, an endearing attachment to inanimate objects, made of intertwined emotional threads, that is clothes, and that is fashion.
How might we transform the fashion industry into a circular economy that highlights the unique individuality of people and their experiences to enhance the emotional connection, ultimately extending the longevity of each garment?
A circular fashion, driven by unique narratives of each garment, enhancing users’ emotional connections to the piece and creating social interaction. Romanticized storytelling adds value to clothes and aims to extend its lifecycle. All encapsulated within a system that gives an agency to the user to browse, build, and store stories with ease.
JAMAIS VU situates itself in the fashion industry as a catalyst for change towards a circular economy.
The physical product is centered around the tag. It contains the Bluetooth Low Energy chip, which allows access to archives. The technology is already used in Bluetooth trackers such as Tile. As a tracker, the connection is limited to close range, and that creates a wireless tether. Once the connected device, usually a smartphone, goes out of range, then the proprietary app notifies the user. It’s also used as beacons to ping information to nearby phones as a marketing tactic.
The chip in tags works in a similar way where the internal memory holds the URL to the archive. Since the signal is encrypted, it can only be accessed through the website, and that can decrypt the communication. Then the site will show the user the address to take them to the archive, specific to the garment. I am assuming that with programming, the chip could transmit a signal when it’s accessed. Rather than it pinging at set intervals to push the information, it can be running it at the minimum voltage to detect access. Once it’s connected to a device, then the chip can transfer the full information.
Stories saved on the archive is what makes JAMAIS VU unique. The storytelling will enhance users’ emotional connection to the garment as they can look back at what they have experienced. This is what enables the extension of garment longevity. Through my workshop, I found out that having a connection, whether it was a gift or pleasant shopping experience, the perception towards the piece changed. The increased lifetime of clothes helps to avoid it going into landfills or shipped to global south countries where it destroys the local market.
The majority of the system takes place online. It splits into two components a website and individual archives. On the previous three pages were the prototype of the website. It takes the users through different pathways, whether they want to buy, tell, or sell. In designing this prototype, I focused on creating a platform that is simple to navigate without distraction so that users can find what they like or build a story and make that stand out. Visually, I referenced pre-existing e-commerce retailers while integrating new features that you don’t see on those websites such as image-based searching and keyword mapping.
The image-based search derives from my research, and it allows users to look up the database with an image. An algorithm breaks down the image using recognition function and references it against the database. Then the result is shown based on the proximity of the match. Google already has this feature built into its search engine, and the concept is very similar, adopted to reference the JAMAIS VU database instead of the internet.
Keyword mapping is a feature where the user types in a keyword, and the algorithm runs through every data with that keyword and creates a web of related words. As the user selects multiple keywords, the algorithm runs the same function while narrowing down the search result. It allows users to find specific stories. On top of that, it enables users to create an outline for their narratives when they build their stories. Similar to searching, the algorithm suggests words that could be linked to the user’s keyword and creates a word map on the screen.
The other half of the online platform is the archive. Each garment will have its dedicated archive that users can view and edit their stories. It’s accessible through an integrated BLE chip in the physical tag that is attached to the garment. Users will then use the mobile website to look for nearby chips that are sending out a signal. It works similarly to Apple’s AirDrop, where your device recognizes other devices with short-range communication. The web app will run its decryption to obtain the address, which then takes the user to that specific archive.
Users create their layout where they can showcase their stories as if they were posting on Instagram or Facebook. They are in control of the visual design of the archive, increasing user involvement, and empowers individuality. It would also be beneficial to add template layouts for ease of use.
Occupation: Entrepreneur/Sustainable fashion advocate
She is a conscious and smart shopper, which means sustainability comes first. For her wardrobe, she likes to keep it simple and makes sure that each piece works together. Another principle she follows is if she can see herself wearing it five years and ten years down the line. Longevity is crucial because that’s what she believes in and is something she advocates for on her social media. She also enjoys the wear and tear that happens over time.
One of the struggles she faces is that due to her time spent on social media is long, it takes her a long time to filter through waves of information. There are so many brands that claim their sustainability on the surface, but quite often, it’s a marketing ploy than an actual effort into the cause. Along with that, she sometimes feels lost in her time and effort into being sustainable. Not being able to see the effect of her hard work is tough.
SCENARIO - ALICE
Occupation: Post-secondary Student
He has been a fashion enthusiast for a while and has acquired his style. He mainly shops higher end big brands but he does not mind buying second hand. He browses on platforms such as Grailed to find items for lower prices or times his shopping around sale season on online retailers like SSENSE. He chooses to buy items that he loves and would either keep for a long time or knows that he can sell after some wears.
Following his relationship with fashion, there are some pain points that arise. Sometimes pieces he likes are becoming too mainstream. For someone who believes in individuality through fashion style, he dislikes this trend of hypebeast culture where people buy clothes because it’s popular. On top of that, he cannot deny the fact that there is an empty feeling of superficiality deriving from obsessing over certain brands - from seeing an exhausting amount of product based campaigns to overall social media posts. The social media feed creates confusion as to where the pieces came from or who makes them. Finding those items by traditional word-based searching has become difficult.
SCENARIO - KEN
Over two semesters, I conducted primary and secondary research, created numerous prototypes and iterations, and refinement of the overall system. I've hosted workshops and designed surveys to understand user behaviors. Through that, I discovered the power of storytelling and the target audience's inclination towards buying second-hand clothes. A participant of the workshop remembered the time when she had a great conversation with the retail staff when she bought a shirt.
I've substantiated my findings and design with secondary research, trend analysis, and market research. Each step of the way, prototypes were made and iterated, sometimes it was an exploration, and another time it was a refinement process. I've read through reports and articles to back up my findings. I went back to my roots to learn more about the concept of wabi-sabi. Journey maps, scenario building, and empathy maps came in handy to look through the eyes of the user. To design a system where it can benefit and give value to them, I used these tools to flesh out the interaction and the experience of JAMAIS VU.
I followed my three pillars of design principles and values. I used these as an umbrella to encapsulate my project. It also helped to stay in line with what I'm trying to achieve. Storytelling is the key to JAMAIS VU. It was my goal to create something that made intangible tangible. Individuality follows along with storytelling, where it's expressed through unique stories of each user. Circular economy and sustainability is the ethos of the brand; I did not want to use it as a marketing ploy, but rather a philosophy embedded in every aspect.
I dedicated as much as I could to find a way to transcend the current status quo of the fashion industry and the people within it.
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