How can the fashion library become an effective model for sustainable fashion life-cycles?

Lead Research Organisation: King's College London
Department Name: Culture Media and Creative Industries


The damaging impact of the production, distribution and
disposal of "fast fashion" apparel on the environment is well
documented, both within academia and the mass media. As
the ever increasing production of "inexpensive fashion of
diminishing quality...leads in turn to greater volumes of
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discarded clothing" (Maynard, 2013, p.543) a huge excess of
waste clothing and textiles, which are frequently nonbiodegradable and produced from non-renewable sources is
created. To address this, there is an urgent need to reevaluate the way in which clothing is designed, used and
disposed of. Research into sustainable fashion consumption
has identified a value-action gap in that professed concerns
for the environment do not necessarily lead to changes in
consumption behaviour (McNeill & Moore, 2015). A new
approach to sustainability in fashion is therefore needed in
order to provide a working model which both consumers and
designers can engage with.
Fashion libraries, a term which in the context of this study is
applied to services that rent out fashion clothing to
consumers for a charge, offer an alternative to current
unsustainable approaches (Pedersen and Netter, 2015).
Existing fashion library services in the UK however do not
promote their sustainable credentials, implying that service
founders and participants have other motivations and are
perhaps even unaware of the model's importance as a
framework for sustainable consumption.
The aim of this study is to provide a conceptual framework
for incorporating life-cycle thinking within the fashion library
model. A case study will be used to identify opportunities for
embedding sustainable approaches within each stage of a
rented garments life-cycle. The research findings will make a
vital contribution to wider discourse on sustainability which is
of environmental, societal and economic importance.
Positioning of the research:
Since the publication of Michael Braungart and William
McDonough's Cradle to Cradle in 2002, the concept of
designing products with the intention to later re-use the
materials has been referenced frequently in discourse on
sustainable consumption. The circular economy, as this is
otherwise known, is posited as an alternative to current,
unsustainable linear economic models (Lacy & Rutqvist,
2015). Given current environmental crises, there is an
imminent need to address the relative dearth of research on
such approaches within the creative industries.
Collaborative consumption, as a potential component of the
circular economy, is a growing area of study within
sustainability (Iran and Shrader, 2017). Although research
has been carried out into clothes swaps (Holmes, 2018,
Gentina, 2014) the collaborative consumption of fashion in
the UK is currently understudied. Initial research into fashion
libraries as a new model for collaborative consumption has
been carried out in Scandinavia which is approached from
the business owners or founders' perspective (Pedersen and
Netter, 2015). There is no existing research into the use of
fashion libraries in the UK.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
ES/P000703/1 01/10/2017 30/09/2027
2285742 Studentship ES/P000703/1 01/10/2019 30/12/2023 Lindsay Parker