Hand-Me-Down Design for Long Life

By Sarah Rich / Published by Dwell
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In a world of planned obsolescence, it's hard to convince people to buy a product that can never be one-upped by the shinier, newer version of itself. But British apparel company, howies, believes it's possible to shift the consumer paradigm and turn the lust for novelty into a longing for history.

howies' new line, Hand-Me-Down, includes two jackets and three bags that are specifically made to endure long enough to be passed down through generations. Leather, canvas, wool tweed, and an organic tight-weave cotton called Ventile make up the classic styles of the limited line. Colors are kept simple and cuts classic to ensure that the function doesn't outlast the fashion.

Clearly you pay a premium for the longevity the pieces promise, but it might be considered a worthy investment in promoting dramatic changes in consumer behavior. Our expectations regarding quality in products have dropped as we've come to prioritize low prices over other characteristics. But as the howies site points out, the cost is reasonable when viewed across the lifespan of the products. It wouldn't hurt to start thinking of green building strategies and sustainable technologies in the same way: Instead of temporary cost-cutting measures for temporary pay-off, we could invest in design and architecture that, as howies put it more than once, "withstands the test of time."

Sarah Rich

@sarahrich

When not working in design, Sarah Rich writes, talks and forecasts about food and consumer culture.

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