Nourishing or polluting : redefining the role of waste in the fashion system

Payne, Alice Ruth (2012) Nourishing or polluting : redefining the role of waste in the fashion system. In Felton, Emma, Vaughan, Suzi, & Zelenko, Oksana (Eds.) Design and Ethics : Reflections on Practice. Routledge (Taylor & Francis Group), London and New York, pp. 204-212.

[img] Accepted Version (PDF 334kB)
Administrators only | Request a copy from author

View at publisher


Waste is intrinsic to the fashion system. Fashion is predicated on built-in obsolescence, and as such outmoded garments are rapidly discarded to charity shops or landfill. However, the story of fashion is also one of abundance and extravagance in design ideas. Every season there are new design details – prints, embroidery, embellishments, shapes and textures. This excess of ideas is in itself another form of waste, albeit one that is culturally nourishing. The grave of a fashion garment may also be the grave of a season’s research and creativity. This paper compares the tangible waste of the industry with its intangible waste, namely fashion’s creativity and cultural excess. Fashion’s excess and abundance of trends and ideas makes any move to curb the environmental impact difficult. For all practitioners of fashion – whether designers or consumers – the waste and excess inherent in the fashion system is a difficult ethical terrain to negotiate. However, inverting the wasteful phases of the production cycle can help reframe waste from pollution to a source of nourishment for future practice. While creative excesses of designers may be ‘wasted’ after a season, fashion styles and tropes are recycled and reinvented, with the once passé styles and design ideas from previous years revalorized and returned into the fashion system.

Similarly, material garments acquire new value through entering or re-entering the second hand or vintage markets. Design processes can utilise pre or post-consumer textile waste, or eliminate waste through design. In these processes, waste becomes the primary source of nourishment for future fashion cycles.

Impact and interest:

Citation counts are sourced monthly from Scopus and Web of Science® citation databases.

These databases contain citations from different subsets of available publications and different time periods and thus the citation count from each is usually different. Some works are not in either database and no count is displayed. Scopus includes citations from articles published in 1996 onwards, and Web of Science® generally from 1980 onwards.

Citations counts from the Google Scholar™ indexing service can be viewed at the linked Google Scholar™ search.

ID Code: 54275
Item Type: Book Chapter
Keywords: fashion, design, ethics, waste, sustainability
ISBN: 9780415688130
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > BUILT ENVIRONMENT AND DESIGN (120000) > DESIGN PRACTICE AND MANAGEMENT (120300) > Textile and Fashion Design (120306)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Chancellery
Current > Schools > School of Design
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2012 Routledge (Taylor & Francis Group)
Deposited On: 24 Oct 2012 00:36
Last Modified: 07 Sep 2016 14:42

Export: EndNote | Dublin Core | BibTeX

Repository Staff Only: item control page