Track 5.2. Sustainable Fashion Lifetimes and… Sufficiency
Dr Katia Vladimirova, Sustainable Fashion Consumption Network, Oklahoma State University and University of Geneva
The global fashion system today can be characterised in terms of overproduction and overconsumption, extensive use of primary resources coupled with planned obsolescence that shortens the life span of garments, and ever-increasing volumes of textile waste worldwide. Wardrobes of consumers are inflated, while use time of garments has decreased dramatically over the past twenty years. More sustainable forms of fashion consumption – in particular, the ones that contribute to the circular business models promoted by the EU Textile Strategy – centre on reuse. However, as many authors have argued, the ultimate “sustainable” choice for consumers is to reduce the number of garments they buy, especially new ones. Sufficiency approaches to fashion consumption are gaining more popularity, aligned with the more general trends towards decluttering and minimalism. Links between decreased apparel consumption and enhanced wellbeing have been identified by a number of studies. However, one challenge that remains unresolved is establishing how many garments or items in the wardrobe would represent a “sustainable” range – primarily since fashion consumption is viewed as a highly individual choice and the number that works for some people may not work for other people’s life circumstances. For policy planning, as well as individual behavioural changes, it would be beneficial to agree on what could be considered a sustainable number or range of garments. Applying the logic of “consumption corridors” and “fair consumption space”, this session calls for contributions to a challenging discussion about establishing limits to our consumption of fashion and textiles. We invite papers that build on empirical research but also conceptual papers that help address the difficult questions in this regard. How many garments are enough and how many are too much? How do we address the problem of seasons and geographical and cultural differences? What is the minimum number of garments for a decent life? How can we, methodologically, define these limits?