Material Knowledge


This week in our Sustainable journey, we learned about material diversity and sustainable product service systems and how these concepts could be implemented into the apparel industry. We explored the two concepts in this week’s readings, a chapter from Kate Fletcher’s Sustainable Fashion and Textiles book entitled Material Diversity and a report written by Dr. Cosette Armstrong and Dr. Chummin Lang entitled Sustainable Product Service Systems: The New Frontier in Apparel Retailing? I personally found both readings to be very interesting and both readings presented very interesting information about material diversity and sustainable product service systems in regards to the apparel industry.

At the beginning of the week, we began to look at the Fletcher’s idea of material diversity and the need for diversity in material production within the industry. The purpose of such diversity as Fletcher describes it is “to guide and promote the long-term health, resilience, and effectiveness of the fashion and textile industry”. In essence, there seems to be a need for not only a more diverse array of textile materials used in apparel products, but there also seems to be a need for more diversity in the conceptualization of textile products in the industry. In order to provide the effectiveness in the textile industry that Fletcher describes and to be able to develop sustainable textile materials, diversity in both the conceptualization and the production in these materials must be implemented. This thought may me think of in terms of the clothes that I buy for myself and the materials that these pieces of clothing are made from; interestingly enough, it seemed that a large amount of my clothing alone is made from either cotton and/or polyester. Another thought that had occurred to me is the fact that the clothing that I own that made from these materials doesn’t always last very long in terms of durability and I often find that I have to get rid of some of my favorite pieces due to the fact that this is the case. I definitely think that material diversity implemented in both the conceptual and the production processes of textile products will aid in creating sustainability diverse fashion for the industry.

In the Sustainable Product Service System reading, we were introduced to the idea of sustainable product service systems in relation to apparel retailing. One of the reasons that this sparked my interest while reading was the fact this concept has an empathic component that is designed around customer involvement in the design process of textile production, while the apparel industry in and of itself is very commercialized and profit-oriented. It made me think about how challenging it would seem to be for a product service system to be implemented in an industry such as the textile industry that happens to be so results-oriented. Also, I found the many challenges that introducing this concept to the apparel industry presented to be of interest to me as well, especially in the challenge that had discussed that PSS would require a sort of a paradigm shift in thinking from the short-term to the long-term. I really think that this challenge itself presents a large problem in trying to implement this concept into apparel retailing because of the fact that the industry is focused on producing textile products that are designed for commercial design and the fact that the industry is so focused on producing results for short-term profit goals.

From all that I have learned this week about both material diversity and sustainable product service systems, I think that I am the most interested to see how we, as future merchandisers, can make an impact in the industry by learning about the benefits of incorporating these sustainable design concepts such as these. I am interesting in learning about these sustainable design concepts can be used in ways that will change the way that designers and merchandisers look at the apparel industry.

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