Sustainable fashion textiles design: value adding through technological enhancement

Joan Farrer, Angela Finn

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNConference contribution with ISSN or ISBNpeer-review


A key concern in the field of contemporary fashion/textiles design is the emergence of ‘fast fashion’: best explained as "buy it Friday, wear it Saturday and throw it away on Sunday" (O'Loughlin, 2007). In this contemporary retail atmosphere of “pile it high: sell it cheap” and “quick to market”, even designer goods have achieved a throwaway status. This modern culture of consumerism is the antithesis of sustainability and is proving a dilemma surrounding sustainable practice for designers and producers in the disciplines (de Blas, 2010). Design researchers including those in textiles/fashion have begun to explore what is a key question in the 21st century in order to create a vision and reason for their disciplines: Can products be designed to have added value to the consumer and hence contribute to a more sustainable industry? Fashion Textiles Design has much to answer for in contributing to the problems of unsustainable practices on a global scale in design, production and waste. However, designers within this field also have great potential to contribute to practical ‘real world’ solutions. ----- ----- This paper provides an overview of some of the design and technological developments from the fashion/textiles industry, endorsing a model where designers and technicians use their transferrable skills for wellbeing rather than desire. Smart materials in the form of responsive and adaptive fibres and fabrics combined with electro active devices, and ICT are increasingly shaping many aspects of society particularly in the leisure industry and interactive consumer products are ever more visible in healthcare. Combinations of biocompatible delivery devices with bio sensing elements can create analyse, sense and actuate early warning and monitoring systems which can be linked to data logging and patient records via intelligent networks. Patient sympathetic, ‘smart’ fashion/textiles applications based on interdisciplinary expertise utilising textiles design and technology is emerging. An analysis of a series of case studies demonstrates the potential of fashion textiles design practitioners to exploit the concept of value adding through technological garment and textiles applications and enhancement for health and wellbeing and in doing so contribute to a more sustainable future fashion/textiles design industry.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFabricating the body: textiles and human health in historical perspective
Place of PublicationUK
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 29 Mar 2011
EventFabricating the body: textiles and human health in historical perspective - University of Exeter, 6-7 April 2011
Duration: 29 Mar 2011 → …


ConferenceFabricating the body: textiles and human health in historical perspective
Period29/03/11 → …

Bibliographical note

© 2011 Angela L Finn & Joan Farrer


  • design
  • fashion textiles
  • smart textiles
  • wellbeing
  • health


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