In the past twenty years, consumption of garments globally has doubled and use time – halved, due to the rise of the fast fashion mode. The problem of the ever-shortening life spans of fashion goods has been fueled not only by the novelty seeking consumer behaviours but also by the plummeting quality of the garments. Low technical quality of the main material, trimmings, and finishings results in a wide range of problems for the use phase – from loss of colour and shape, to enhanced wear-and-tear – and makes it not worth repairing garments to keep them in use longer. And yet, impact per wear is recognized as the ultimate measure of sustainability for the fashion value chain: by using a garment longer, consumers reduce its per-wear impact. This session focuses on the use phase of apparel and aims to facilitate a conversation about the status quo of clothing use and the different opportunities to reverse the trend of quick wardrobe turnarounds towards slower, more mindful practices linked to longer use. How long do consumers keep their garments today, on average? How can we measure the use phase impacts, from a methodological standpoint? Which changes in consumer behaviour and practices are required to reduce the impacts of our wardrobes at the use phase?

Session owners: Cosette Joyner Martinez and Katia Vladimirova, Sustainable Fashion Consumption Network, Oklahoma State University and University of Geneva.

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