Design management of sustainable fashion

Updated : October 2020


  • Textile and fashion designers
  • Textile industry sustainability professionals
The aim of this research is to advance an understanding of how design in the fashion industry can be successfully managed to contribute to environmental sustainability. Its objectives are to investigate how fashion businesses establish and support environmentally sustainable strategies, and how design leaders and managers contribute to the setting of these goals. The paper reviews the literature of the fashion industry, its sustainability strategies, and the management of design. Semi-structured interviews and a quantitative survey of designers was undertaken in the UK. The research groups the ‘design’ in environmentally sustainable strategies based on the level of engagement that the organisations have with sustainability. The first priority has been fiber choice, a key element of the design and specification of all fashion products. The second area of priority is the development of more sustainable textile production processes where chemicals and water are used. Small, niche brands demonstrated more creative approaches to recycling in their sustainability strategies, where the entire fabric is sourced from pre-consumer and post consumer recyclables. The research demonstrates the relatively weak influence of designers on sustainable fashion strategy and concludes by developing design management theory for sustainability through a modified Design Atlas framework.

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Creative approaches to to recycling in their sustainability strategies

Fiber choice key element in design specification of apparel products

Garments designed to be disassembled

Physical durability and the technical engineering of apparel products

Design teams having access to tools and trainings in sustainable design processes

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