Challenge accepted!

Heiko Desens talks the GFA’s Designer Challenge and the project “Sweep the Factory Floor”

July 19, 2023

Heiko Desens talks the GFA’s Designer Challenge and the project “Sweep the Factory Floor”

July 19, 2023

In an era where it is inevitable for the fashion industry to reach for sustainability, the Global Fashion Alliance (GFA) has launched the Designer Challenge. The challenge offers a platform for creative directors to showcase their sustainable approaches on design, from conception to final product. This year, PUMA – represented by our Global Creative Director, Heiko Desens, and New York based designer Nicole McLaughlin – has taken on the challenge. We sat down with Heiko to chat about the GFA Designer Challenge and shed some light on the research project “Sweep the Factory Floor”.

Heiko, can you explain, what was the Designer Challenge about?

Heiko: The Designer Challenge, organized by the Global Fashion Alliance,  follows the work of Creative Directors on their paths to more sustainable design. When we were approached by the GFA, we recognized the perfect occasion to share our ongoing research on how to make use of our production waste. It was great to share ‘Sweep the Factory Floor,’ with the wider fashion community as part of the GFA Designer Challenge during the Global Fashion Summit in Copenhagen.

How did the project start? What’s the background story?

Heiko: As designers, we have witnessed the amount of waste generated throughout the production process within the fashion industry supply chain. We are determined to find creative solutions to address this issue. The design & innovation team at PUMA have been exploring different upcycling ideas that utilize material cut-offs from the supply chain to transform production waste into one-of-a-kind, individualized footwear.

Over the last year, I was recognizing a certain fatigue toward the pursuit of innovative sustainable design solutions. I saw that the motivation to work on more sustainable ideas, that once drove the industry has somewhat diminished. But looking into the future, I think, that we need to increase and continue seeking innovative approaches to make the fashion industry more sustainable.

Why the name “Sweep the Factory Floor”?

Heiko: The name “Sweep the Factory Floor” captures the essence of our project, which aims to cleanse factory floors of fabric waste. It symbolizes our dedication to creating a more sustainable future and highlights how even the tiniest fabric scraps contribute to a larger, holistic vision on sustainability. It signifies that sustainable ideas need not always be blockbuster sized, but every small step counts. It’s a message we want to promote throughout the fashion industry.

Where will the idea go from here?

Heiko: Our next steps involve strategically allocating this product to select accounts. It is crucial that we convey the story behind it, rather than just pushing it onto the market. Thus, we intend to share the narrative with key partners next year, with the goal of launching a limited collection in Autumn-Winter 2024.

I strongly encourage designers to tap into their inherent creativity and explore sustainable ideas more. We must not solely focus on reaching for the stars; it is equally vital to address the opportunities right within our reach, right beside our own tables.

Thank you so much for your time, Heiko!

🎬 Watch the video to gain a comprehensive overview of what ‘Sweep the Factory Floor’ entails! 🧹🏭👟 

The Designer Challenge gave us the chance to dive deeper into our research on optimizing our sustainability in our production process. As we embark on a journey toward a more sustainable future, we aim to inspire fellow designers and industry stakeholders to embrace creativity and explore sustainable solutions. By weaving together creativity, innovation, and conscious design, we can lead the way to make the future Forever.Better. 

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