( Our Mission )

We rethink the fashion industry, we reset the rules,  we regenerate sustainable processes with technology and digital applications for a relevant transformation.

Juliane Kahl

The woman behind the
Responsive Fashion Institute

/// Biography

Juliane Kahl, is a designer and researcher focusing on the future of fashion. Her main interest is the development and application of new technologies to promote sustainability. As a former board member of the NGO Umwelt-Akademie e.V. she promotes the development and implementation of sustainable research projects in the fashion sector and links these with environmental policy. In the course of her many years of teaching and pedagogical practice, she has developed modules and methods for national and international educational institutions like the the Academy for Fashion and Design and the London College of Fashion.

In 2016 Juliane Kahl initiated the first Fashion Hackathon in East Africa in Addis Ababa. The project received the "Better Lives" award of the London College of Fashion. Her current project, the "Material Harvesting Hack" has been supported by the German Council for Sustainable Development (RNE) since 2019.


Juliane Kahl

Why did you decide to found the RFI ?

There are three main reasons, which led me to founding the Institute:

— 1
To think different and push for innovations that really facilitate the necessary transformation within the fashion industry.

— 2
To become part of the change. It is both a personal and professional quest.

— 3
To create a platform to prototype and develop technical innovations to support sustainable fashion.

Could you name one cause that you defend?

The relationship between fashion and female empowerment has a long and varied past. During the 14th to 16th century, it was the only form of art that women were allowed to express their taste. Fashion since the beginning of the empowerment of women movement has had an important role in presenting the cause as well as liberating women and their bodies. This can be seen, from the corsetry in the early 1900s, to practical invention of ‘Bloomers’ during the 1850s and to Mary Quant Mini Skirt design for a new generation of women in the 1960s.
Today the relationship between the two has taken on other issues. Some feminists believe that the fashion sector is highly sexist, quoting the sexualisation of women in fashion media and the promotion of certain unachievable body standards.
But - there is a big shift right now where much more diverse and inclusive beauty standards are much more accepted and presented in the public domain.

But how can women empower women on a global scale?

In many developing countries, the fashion industry is seen as a catalyst for boosting the economy and eradicating poverty. Unfortunately, due to the lack of government regulations and benchmarks in these countries, the opposite is often the case. However, the industry does not only have negative consequences for young female employees. Given the real cost of the industry and environmental impact, the challenge is to drive economic growth using sustainable methods and to stop the exploitation of women workers.
The fashion industry is an excellent opportunity to promote the economic empowerment of women and thus break the cycle of poverty within local communities. So every person decides with every purchase he/she makes which kind of fashion system he/she supports: one that exploits and impoverishes - or one that regenerates communities through the empowerment of women.

What do you think is the most interesting technology related to fashion?

Data Visualisation, Machine Learning, Blockchain Technology & Digital Fashion with the use of XR Technologies.

How do you think that the nature of consuming fashion is affecting the industry?

We are beyond that point. The system is broken. We have to rethink fashion and offer not only products but also services and experiences. We need to create a new definition of profits without only looking at monetary figures.

What is your take on smart textiles?

It is a very fascinating approach to connect data with garments. This is the key factor to implement transparency in fashion as soon as it will be possible to connect data in raw materials. There is also a huge potential in healthcare and wellbeing with connected garments. Unfortunately these applications are currently mainly used with a ‚Tech for Tech sake’ mind-set in form of ‚unnecessary gimmics’. But if garments are connected to Data with a real impact and a ‘human-centred-purpose’ the results could be real game-changers within the fashion industry.

What are the criteria you take in account when you select a project?

We are particularly drawn to projects with the potential to develop sustainable structures within Fashion through technology through a rating of the following criteria’s, additionally to the UN SDG’s*:

/ innovative
/ speculative
/ human-centred
/ emphatic
/ socially sustainable
/ ecologically sound

Code of Ethics UN SDG’s

The Sustainable Development Goals are the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. They address the global challenges we face, including those related to poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, peace and justice. The 17 Goals are all interconnected, and in order to leave no one behind, it is important that we achieve them all by 2030.

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