Clothing-as-a-service? – A research agenda towards a sustainable and socially accepted Circular Economy of Clothing
Authors: Philipp Brauner, Luisa Vervier, Martina Ziefle, Melina Sachtleben, Stefan Schlichter, Thomas Gries
Abstract: Circular Economy approaches are increasingly recognized as a solution also in the textile industry to foster a world-wide call to action in terms of sustainable production, sale, use, and recycling of materials and products. When supported by technical, economic, and political systems, such efforts help to integrate more efficient process-es and production lines as well as to maintain valuable materials and components for re-use and re-cycling, to target closed material cycles, develop or re-arrange production chains, and reframe consumption behaviors. In this paper we focus on clothing from a circular economy perspective. Textiles are the number two consumer goods market worldwide. Production, sale, use, and recycling of clothing must be better synchronized to increase sustainability. However, social factors and existing behaviors often affect these sustainable endeavors on different levels. Clothing is progressively regarded as a low-quality single-use-like object in a fast fashion world, discarded after only a few wears. Whilst it is also generally considered a personal item with individual attributions, not easily shared, or borrowed. Individual attributions of value and sensitivity, as well as technical barriers conflict with the requirements of longest possible use and subsequent reuse, and recycling. New concepts of ownership, sharing, pricing, and renting such as deposit trousers challenge the market and consumer sensibilities. In this article, we describe the opportunities and challenges of socially accepted circular economy approaches for clothing, conflicting technical, economic, and social forces that limit their viability, and outline strategies and an interdisciplinary research agenda to overcome these challenges.
Keywords: Circular Economy, Social Sustainability, Clothing, Social Acceptance
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