There is a joke in China that "you can tell the trend color of the next season by looking at the color of the rivers." - In recent decades the fashion industry has come under a vast amount of criticism. Ranging from the chemicals released into the environment polluting local rivers and soils, unfair working conditions in their sweatshops and the fast turnover that of trends that triggering people to over-consume on cheap fast fashion.
Many smaller brands have been established that try to offer sustainably produced clothing that reduces environmental and/or social harm. Yet many of those brands sell sustainable fashion at high premium prices. Besides paying fair wages, better raw materials and better waste treatment processes, the use of less harmful chemicals e.g. for dying processes can be cost intensive and not considered an option for many brands that sell their products to consumers who are not able to afford to pay premium prices for more sustainable clothing.
There is a great deal of research ongoing around what can be done to increase sustainability from the consumer perspective, and a growing attention to the idea that truly sustainable fashion means improving the affordability of quality, sustainable clothing. This is an area where technological innovation has a potential role to play, but the focus of the innovation activity is still unclear.
This research aims to use life-cycle based approaches to explore targets for more sustainable yet affordable production materials and processes that can effectively lower productions cost of sustainably produced fashion.
Students will facilitate the research process including literature review, data collection, processing and life-cycle based assessments. They may also be asked to conduct interviews with local experts from the textile industry.
The project allows students to directly work with faculty on project design and gain hands on research experience. It will provide students with knowledge related to textile production, teach them life-cycle assessment basics and enhance their analytical and critical thinking skills.