From design to end-of-life: Fashion and the sustainable development goals

Organizer: Monique Retamal
Format: Onsite-Online, Afternoon

This session presents a multi-disciplinary approach to sustainable design, consumption and production of fashion, cutting across design, governance, industry and scientific perspectives, while more broadly considering how the SDGs are impacted by the current state of fashion production and consumption. Contemporary culture is characterised by mass consumption. The textile industry is among the world’s most environmentally damaging and exploitative. The United Nations estimates that the industry accounts for 20% of global wastewater and 10% of global carbon emissions, as well as resulting in one garbage truck of textiles being sent to landfill or burned every second. With 70 million workers globally involved in garment production, the textile industry also harms humans, by subjecting workers to unacceptable conditions and pay rates. As an aesthetic commodity, fashion has mutually constitutive ties between the economic and the cultural, as well as the material and the symbolic. Modern fashion culture is characterised by short product life cycles and rapid consumption turnover. Fashion production also generates more than commodities; it contributes to individual and collective identities. Fashion symbolically informs gender, class, race, sexuality, socio-economic status, age and the inter-relations between them. Currently, the consumption of fashion is increasing at an unprecedented rate, and involves fibre degradation, high water use, energy inefficiency, waste, and harmful detergents. Production includes unsustainable fibre extraction, excessive textile waste, dyeing and finishing, and faces many social issues, including poor wages and unregulated working conditions. Consequently, the textile industry faces particular challenges to sustainable development, and action to support sustainability is required up and down the supply chain.

Themes: Sustainability for Who?