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Re-fashioning the garment industry: Exploring innovations for a circular economy

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The circular economy is promoted as an innovation and growth model for a garment industry widely understood to be wasteful, polluting and ripe for change. There is a growing body of knowledge related to sustainability, design, eco-innovation and business; there is, however, a scarcity of material that examines all subjects as they relate to the garment industry. There exists, in both literature and practice, a conceptual gap between the commercial viewpoint and established thinking around sustainable practices. There is a lack of research investigating operations management, buying and merchandising roles in apparel product development. Understanding the influence of these functional roles is crucial in developing strategies for closing the gap between commercial and environmentally sustainable practices and bringing innovations to market. Investment in sustainability-related knowledge and capabilities within firms is needed. Reconsidering the role of fashion designers, expanding their training and elevating them to process-leading problem-solvers could unlock new sources of value within the industry.
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Keywords: apparel; circular economy; eco-innovation; fashion; garment industry; sustainability

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Ramnation & Imperial College London

Publication date: March 1, 2018

More about this publication?
  • We all wear clothes. We are all therefore invested at some level in the production and consumption of clothing. This journal intends to embrace issues and themes that are both universal and personal, addressing [and dressing] us all. Increasingly, as we all become accomplished semioticians, clothing becomes the key signifier in determining social interaction and behaviour, and sartorial norms dictate socio-cultural appropriateness. Following the rise of fashion theory, on an everyday level, we all understand that our clothes 'say' something about us, about our times, nation, system of values. Yet clothing is not fashion; clothing is a term derivative from 'cloth', to cover the body, whereas fashion alludes to the glamorous, the ephemeral and the avant garde. We wear clothes, but imagine fashion-an unattainable ideal.
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