The ecological thread: an examination of sustainable lifecycle and reuse strategies, for textile amd fashion designers

Sherburne, Annie (2007) The ecological thread: an examination of sustainable lifecycle and reuse strategies, for textile amd fashion designers. (MA(R) thesis), Kingston University, .


This research responds to the question, “what constitutes an environmentally friendly textile?” Written from the point of view of a practicing textile designer, it has a particular focus on textile recycling and reuse. The study identifies key contemporary environmental design strategies, and appropriates them for use in textile and fashion design. Interviews were conducted with recycling companies, an industrial spinner, and an Indian sustainable textile company. An electronic questionnaire survey was also conducted via a website. The study presents a wide range of inspirational and successful small textile and fashion design businesses, working with various aspects of recycling. These case studies collectively offer valuable insights into how design and creativity can be used to promote more effective textile recycling and reuse. A selected “eco-textile glossary” is included to aid understanding of the jargon, technical terms and scientific concepts relevant to this contemporary investigation of ecological textiles. A short version of the glossary appears as an appendice explaining words which appear in purple throughout the text. This glossary is available in full online as a “wiki” resource, where it may be updated by expert contributors, to become a dynamic, evolving resource of value for students, researchers and practitioners in the field. Recommendations for further work: New business possibilities are made evident, which will develop new markets, not only for designing and making textiles and garments, but also the systems through which textile products sold, traded, swapped, customised, mended, upgraded, hired, used, shared, disposed of, re-envisioned. Development of new products and processing within the waste stream will add value and make reuse and recycling increasingly economically viable. The imminent development of a labelling system, although complex, is necessary to empower customers so that market forces will make a systematic change possible. My further academic work will identify, develop, support, and encourage the development of creative freedom within environmentally friendly textiles. I will continue my creative practise, and continue to source and supply ecological yarns, books and cleaning materials, through my shop.

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