Turning Things Around: How Modular Fashion and Home Décor Boost Sustainability

Nogah Senecky
May 24, 2023

The ultimate environmental tagline encourages us to “reduce, reuse, recycle.” Still, a recent UK survey found that around 40% of consumers shop for new fashion items at least once a month, and 20% do so every couple of weeks. With trends shifting faster than ever, so do our wardrobe and interior design. Research finds that people renovate much more frequently nowadays, and the carbon footprint related to interior design can exceed that of the building’s construction.

One way to reduce our purchasing frequency and environmental footprint is by embracing modular design, giveing garments and Home Décor items multiple looks and use cases. 

Simple Math: Fewer Items, Less Waste

Each year, 92 million tons of clothing end up in landfills, and 87% of the materials and fibers used to manufacture fashion items reach incinerators and landfills.

As for Home Décor, fast furniture contributes to deforestation and is responsible for over 12 million tons of municipal waste in the US alone. Furniture often requires shipping using cargo ships that rely on heavy fuel oil and are known to leak harmful components into the ocean. 

Using the same outfit or furniture in various ways is a sustainable choice because it reduces the energy and water consumption related to manufacturing and decreases the number of items thrown away on a regular basis. Given that manufacturing fashion and home items is often a wasteful and polluting procedure, reducing the number of items produced is a step in the right direction. 

Since our style and needs tend to change over the years, purchasing modular items allows us to invest in built-to-last pieces rather than opt for fast fashion or furniture. Buying one solid item that will last a lifetime is far less scary when we can adjust and adapt it from time to time. 

Wear This and That: Modular Fashion 

Adapting the same outfit to support different needs throughout the day is an excellent solution for busy people who don’t have the time or energy to change clothes for an after-work drink. It is also a great way to minimize the wardrobe and allow a single item to serve multiple needs. 

Modular garments can be based on reversible fabrics with subtle patterns on one side and bolder prints on the other. A classic example is a reversible jacket like the ones featured in this GQ roundup. Outfits can easily be adjusted using accessories like dedicated belts or scarves that transform the look.

Another reason people continue to buy new clothes has to do with changing body measurements. We gain or lose weight and need clothes that fit comfortably and are aesthetically pleasing. Some modular garments are famous for being convertible and universally flattering, like the infinity dress that can be worn in ten different styles.

Shifting Spaces: Modular Home Décor

In the Home Décor department, modular furniture is the perfect space-saving solution, and some items are designed to shape-shift in order to fit different rooms and purposes. Classic examples include the famous Murphy bed, and the sofa bed or sleeper sofa (which are different modular items serving a similar goal).

The modular approach to interior design also involves replacing the printed fabric and giving the item a completely different look. Durable fabric types can take indoor furniture outside and vice versa. We witnessed a combination of both options when Kornit collaborated with Cozmo, the manufacturer of a modular sofa sold online. The sofa always comes with multiple jackets (covers) to allow customers to quickly form a variety of combinations and looks. The collaboration featured a printed jacket designed by the London-based studio Raw Edges, giving another stylish option to shoppers. 

Sometimes, a change in perspective is in order. With modular design, we can reimagine beloved pieces and give them new lives with fresh meaning. It’s better for our spirits, wallets, and the environment.