Flat-Pack Clothes: The Future of fashion?

Photo by Action Press / Rex Features Young couple shopping IKEA furniture store, Hamburg, Germany - Nov 2008

Photo by Action Press / Rex Features
Young couple shopping in IKEA

Love it or hate it, we’ve all heard of flat-pack furniture. The radical idea from Sweden that gave us inexpensive bookcases and tables, but ones that we had to construct ourselves.  Now another Swedish businessman reckons we ought to be doing exactly the same with our clothes.

Flat-Pack Clothes founder

Swedish author and Fortune 500 business consultant Stefan Engeseth thinks that the time for throw-away fashion is over.In his mind he believes that people are now much more concerned with the environment and the conditions of labour markets in poorer parts of the world.

“Fashion is an expression of how to package and sell design,” according to Engeseth via a press release.

But he’s not suggesting that all clothes should be flat-packed and the buyer be responsible for constructing them into wearable pieces. He reckons that stores like Ikea could offer both whole clothing items, and parts that require assembly.

“Emotionally, this connects people to how life was in the beginning,” Engeseth says. “Customers can personalize and ‘hack’ the designs.” He explains, “We’re already seeing some shoppers go to outdoor and living stores to buy longer-lasting clothing. Ikea already sells reusable Kr 4 bags that are good and cheap; their clothes could be equally practical, as strong as work clothes.”

Ikea fans are already hacking basic pieces from Ikea stores, and making their own versions of furniture using unusual ideas from websites over the world.

But shouldn’t Engeseth be concerned about the fast-paced fashion trends that retailers such as H&M and Topshop tend to pick up quickly on? He isn’t that bothered:

“There are 57 million Ikea ‘family members’ already, so let them be the only ones who can buy the clothes first. This would be the longest catwalk ever.”

So how exactly would Engeseth’s idea work?

We think that the clothes would come in easy to assemble pieces that could be adjusted for different sizes. It is imagined that you could customise them to make them even more original by adding length to skirts, picking different colours for colours or adding vintage buttons, that kind of thing.

Engeseth believes that as a society, there is a desire to be different, to stand out from the crowd, which is far removed from generations ago when the object was really to look and act the same as everybody else. Nowadays people want to be able to personalise what they wear and to “hack the designs” as he explains in a press release.  By starting from scratch, you get an emotional attachment to the piece that you’ve designed.

At the moment the idea is very much that, just an idea, but does it have legs?

One glaring problem with the idea of constructing your own clothing is that many of us simply do not have the time, patience, the know-how or even the desire to sit at home making our own clothes. I think you have to be pretty creative, original and perhaps individualistic to go down this path, where you have a burning desire to get stuck into actually constructing stuff that you are going to wear outdoors.

For the most part, those of us who want to look different are more than happy to browse markets, charity shops or the web to find quirky clothes that no-one else is wearing. And the problem is, this market is pretty small as is it.

Luckily for the moment, it is just an idea. But what do you think? Would you buy flat-pack clothes? Let us know.

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