Sustainable Design









Extending clothing lifetimes: an exploration of design and supply chain challenges

Lynn Oxborrow, Stella Claxton

Nottingham Trent University

Keywords: Clothing longevity, sustainable design, supply chain management, new product development


The environmental impact of clothing could be reduced if average garment lifetimes were increased. The paper explores the design and supply chain implications of clothing longevity, adapting models from sustainable clothing design research, and evidence from interviews and expert roundtables. The research concludes that the process of design for longevity could be adopted by clothing retailers and brands, but that the principles behind adopting this strategy lack credence in industry, because the mandate to do so, and robust business models, are lacking. The paper identifies a range of conflicting priorities between commercial and sustainable practice that must be addressed to reduce the environmental impact of clothing by extending its useful life, and makes recommendations for industry and future research. However, the limitations to adopting more sustainable practice relate to fashion and market segment, are systemic within the clothing supply chain and attempts to resolve these require a commercial imperative.

This paper is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International licence.

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Cite this paper: Oxborrow, L., Claxton, S. (2016) Extending Clothing Lifetimes: An Exploration of Design and Supply Chain Challenges. Proceedings of DRS 2016, Design Research Society 50th Anniversary Conference. Brighton, UK, 27–30 June 2016.

This paper will be presented at DRS2016, find it in the conference programme

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