Special Issue "Sustainable Textiles and Garments in the Context of a Circular Economy: Extended Use, Material Circulation and New Business Understanding"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Economic and Business Aspects of Sustainability".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 November 2021.

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Kirsi Niinimäki
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Guest Editor
Department of Design, School of Arts, Design and Architecture, Aalto University, 02150 Espoo, Finland
Interests: sustainable fashion and textiles; circular ecosystem; sustainable transformation; multidisciplinary collaboration
Dr. Natalia Moreira
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Design, School of Arts, Design and Architecture, Aalto University, 02150 Espoo, Finland
Interests: sustainability; consumer behaviour and product development

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The textile and clothing industry is a huge global business and one of the biggest polluters in the world (Quantis 2018). This industry has high environmental impacts which have an effect on climate change (Niinimäki et al. 2020). Lately, the pressure to change industrial practices in the fashion and textile industry toward more sustainable ones has been a burning issue not only in academic investigations but also in public discourse.

To slow the material throughput in the system and to lower the environmental impacts of fashion and textiles, we must construct a new system level understanding and create a shift from linear (take, make, dispose) to circular thinking through the following approaches: narrowing (efficiency), closing (recycling), and slowing (reusing) (Bocken et al. 2018). Sustainable transformation needs fundamental changes at all levels in the fashion and textile system: deceleration of manufacturing and consumption, new business models, new design strategies, extended producer responsibility, and reverse logistics (Niinimäki et al. 2020). Therefore, new knowledge is needed at all levels in the fashion/textile system from materials, design and manufacturing practices, garments’ lifetimes, new business models, and conscious consumer behavior.

This Special Issue will focus on sustainable textile and fashion in the context of a circular economy, and therefore, we expect to receive contributions especially from the following themes:

  • How to slow down the system;
  • How to extend the use time of textiles and garments;
  • How to improve the recyclability of textiles and garments;
  • How to construct new business models linking to a circular economy.

The purpose of this Special Issue is to open the many levels which need to be included while approaching textile and fashion sustainability from a system level point of view. Theoretical, methodological, and empirical papers will be considered. 

Bocken, N. M. P. et al. (2018) Slowing Resource Loops in the Clothing Industry through Circular Business Model Experimentation. In K. Niinimäki (ed.) Sustainable Fashion in a Circular Economy, Helsinki: Aalto Arts Books, pp 152–167. (Aalto ARTS Books, 2018).

Niinimäki, K. et al. (2020) The Environmental Price of Fast Fashion. Nature Reviews; Earth and Environment 1, pp. 189–200.

Quantis. (2018) Measuring Fashion. Environmental Impact of the Global Apparel and Footwear Industries Study; Quantis: Lausanne, Switzerland.

Prof. Dr. Kirsi Niinimäki
Dr. Natalia Moreira
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1900 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • sustainable textile
  • sustainable garments
  • sustainable fashion
  • circular economy
  • extended use
  • lifetime
  • recyclability
  • business models
  • sustainable transformation

Published Papers (3 papers)

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Research

Article
I Still Love Them and Wear Them”—Conflict Occurrence and Management in Wearer-Clothing Relationships
Sustainability 2021, 13(23), 13054; https://doi.org/10.3390/su132313054 (registering DOI) - 25 Nov 2021
Viewed by 203
Abstract
The reasons why people use their clothes for longer are complex, but essential to understand how to promote longer clothing lifetimes. We conducted an online survey with open-ended questions, asking 170 female participants to write about one of their oldest garments still in [...] Read more.
The reasons why people use their clothes for longer are complex, but essential to understand how to promote longer clothing lifetimes. We conducted an online survey with open-ended questions, asking 170 female participants to write about one of their oldest garments still in use. When analysing our qualitative data, we found that many participants reported going through some mishaps with their item, a situation which is identified in existing literature as a reason for garment disposal. Following ongoing research which compares wearer-clothing relationships with human relationships, we analysed our qualitative data in the light of theory on interpersonal relationships to understand why conflict did not lead participants to dispose of their garments. The findings suggest that the way people manage conflict with their clothes is more critical for garment longevity than the conflict per se, which is bound to happen at some point in time. This paper presents different approaches to conflict in wearer-clothing relationships and illustrates them with testimonies from our survey. We discuss our findings through relevant literature and their implications to specific strategies for garment longevity. Full article
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Article
Influences on Consumer Engagement with Sustainability and the Purchase Intention of Apparel Products
Sustainability 2021, 13(19), 10655; https://doi.org/10.3390/su131910655 - 25 Sep 2021
Viewed by 514
Abstract
Apparel and textile products are filling landfills and contributing to extensive waste found across the world. Much of the textile waste is due to the typical consumer not being aware of the care for, disposal of, and sustainable options for textile products. To [...] Read more.
Apparel and textile products are filling landfills and contributing to extensive waste found across the world. Much of the textile waste is due to the typical consumer not being aware of the care for, disposal of, and sustainable options for textile products. To identify consumers’ intention to engage in sustainable practices and the intention to purchase sustainable apparel options, this study measured consumers’ attitudes, subjective norms, and perceived behavioral controls. Data were collected from a sample of 397 participants through a Qualtrics online survey disseminated on Amazon’s MTurk. Results of the multiple regression analysis yielded three of note: (1) a positive attitude toward recycling and the environment is related to a higher intention to engage in sustainable behavior, (2) a positive attitude toward green apparel products leads to a higher intention to purchase sustainable products, and (3) family and friends and the convenience of finding sustainable apparel products in stores have also influenced the purchase of sustainable apparel. Thus, this study provides significant insights into both intention to engage in sustainable behavior and the intention to purchase sustainable products and serves as a foundation for future studies on the sustainable engagement and purchase intention toward sustainable products. Full article
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Article
Fashion Rental: Smart Business or Ethical Folly?
Sustainability 2021, 13(16), 8888; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13168888 - 09 Aug 2021
Viewed by 590
Abstract
The research presented here illustrates the spectrum of fashion rental PSS firms and business strategies within the New Zealand fashion rental market. The evidence collected suggests that there is a market for fashion rental; however, this market is underdeveloped in regard to its [...] Read more.
The research presented here illustrates the spectrum of fashion rental PSS firms and business strategies within the New Zealand fashion rental market. The evidence collected suggests that there is a market for fashion rental; however, this market is underdeveloped in regard to its potential as a benefit exchange medium that encourages alternative consumption practice. This study finds that there is, indeed, enormous potential in PSSs as a means to divert fashion-conscious consumers away from ownership behaviours; however, the current systems fall short of this goal. This study offers a taxonomy to create and develop fashion rental PSSs that achieve central aims of circular economy fashion systems, enhancing the collective, social aspects of access, value-sharing and continuing development of mutual gain within the system. It is anticipated that this taxonomy could be further refined and extended through research in other countries, including those with more established, larger fashion rental organisations. Further, there is potential for action research approaches to the design and analysis of alternative fashion rental PSSs. Full article
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Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Title: Fit for the future; Garment quality and product lifetimes in a CE context
Authors: Riikka Piippo, Kirsi Niinimäki
Abstract: Fashion industry is one of the most polluting industrial sectors in the world and its environmental impacts are huge. Garments are produced effectively with low price and low quality and used very short time before ending up increasing textile waste streams. One critical aspect in this context is the lifespan of garments. Short garment lifespans are the results of low quality and consumer dissatisfaction resulting in early disposal. This study will focus on the issue of garment quality and how it can be connected to product lifetime.

The research is based on case study approach, including three company interviews and their work around quality, and it tries to make visible how quality impacts product lifetimes. The data analysis is done according to the principles of descriptive analysis and the discussion is furthered in the circular economy context.

Findings show that timeless design, technically durable materials and product functionality, are important factors for product quality. They are part of companies’ quality assurance work which creates a foundation for the products to circulate in the system for longer. Quality assurance is followed by quality control, both in manufacturing and for the finished products.

However, these attributes cannot yet guarantee a long lifespan as the consumer’s experience and use with the products can be the determining factor. While high quality is of high importance it cannot alone guarantee long lifespan or circularity for products. Even the most durable products need care and maintenance. The optimal care is already studied at the product development stage and has to be communicated to the consumers at the point of purchase. Not all consumers have the know-how of how to care for the products in the best way. This is why some companies even offer education on care.

High quality even enhances the circularity of the garments and especially the textile materials even in waste phase. High quality allows the products and materials to circulate in the system for longer and high quality material is easier to recycle into new fibres (easier to reach high quality in material recycling).

High technical quality makes it possible for the products to stay in use for longer and even with several users. Moreover, if a consumers think a garment is of good quality, they care for it better which contributes to the physical condition of the product in the course of time and this furthers the lifespan of the product. This can be understood as a quality in use. Good quality even makes contribution while the lifetime of the product is ending; material can extend its life through fibre recycling. This can be understood as a quality for recycling. Overall it seems that the companies under study perceive the products with longer lifespans to be of higher quality and have more value than the ones with short lifespans. Therefore it could be stated that lifetime is also one measure of quality. This aspect can be described as lifetime quality.

Title: Willingness to consume circular apparel: testing the VBN Theory among Brazilian and Dutch consumers
Authors: Giovana Monteiro Gomes, Natalia Moreira, Thijs Bouman, Aldo Roberto Ometto, Ellen van der Werff
Abstract: The apparel industry presents negative environmental impacts, especially concerning the shortening of garments’ life cycle and fast-fashion’s throw-away culture. The circular economy provides solutions to minimise and prevent these impacts through innovative circular business models, which require changes in consumption behaviours. This paper analyses, with the lens of environmental psychology, the consumer willingness to acquire circular apparel considering four approaches on clothing life-cycle extension. We collected data among Brazilian and Dutch consumers and tested if the VBN theory can explain the willingness of circular apparel consumers. These two countries were chosen due its socio-economic and circular economy implementation differences. Our results indicate the model predicts better circular consumption behaviour in the Netherlands compared to Brazil, by including normative factors, that is, consuming circular apparel is perceived as more effortful for the Brazilian population. We also found that materialistic values were positively and significantly related to circular consumption in the Netherlands, suggesting that these products are perceived as luxurious in the country. In Brazil, we identified gaps in consumers’ knowledge of the negative impacts caused by the apparel industry, thus, interventions that educate and nudge Brazilian consumers could promote circular behaviours in the apparel sector.

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