Product development and supply: help or hindrance to clothing longevity?

Oxborrow, L. ORCID: 0000-0003-2795-8131, Claxton, S., Cooper, T. ORCID: 0000-0001-8623-2918 and Hill, H., 2015. Product development and supply: help or hindrance to clothing longevity? In: T. Cooper ORCID: 0000-0001-8623-2918, N. Braithwaite ORCID: 0000-0001-6424-8919, M. Moreno and G. Salvia, eds., Product Lifetimes and the Environment (PLATE) Conference proceedings, [Nottingham Trent University], Nottingham, 17-19 June 2015. Nottingham: Nottingham Trent University: CADBE, pp. 264-269. ISBN 9780957600997

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Designing longer lasting clothing helps to reduce unsustainable levels of product disposal and subsequent waste. This has led to a call for retailers to enhance clothing longevity, supported by new business models to reduce any impact on competitiveness. While some research suggests that a significant proportion of consumers would buy longer lasting clothes, this view is not necessarily accepted by industry strategists. This paper, which reports on research undertaken for WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme), explores conflicting priorities between commercial and sustainable practice, and problematic trade-offs in the supply chain between commercial, technical and design aspects of reducing the environmental impact of clothing. The study adopted a mixed methodology, incorporating qualitative interviews and a survey, and encompasses views of retailers, manufacturers and suppliers from different segments of the UK fashion market.
The findings confirm that retailers and brands drive the new product development process and set standards for their supply chains, but globalization, product churn and testing regimes challenge the critical path schedule. Although current tests confirm product quality (WRAP, 2013), there is a perception within industry that designing for longevity increases testing, inflating the risk of failure and extending lead-times, resulting in a mismatch between cost, time and longevity priorities that limits adoption of design for longevity. Meanwhile, clothing longevity is not perceived to add value for many consumers and therefore is not prioritised. While it is technically possible to enhance clothing longevity, the findings demonstrate empirically that this deviates from current commercial drivers of global clothing supply chains. By combining different perspectives on supply chains, new product development and sustainability, inherent conflicts are revealed.

Item Type: Chapter in book
Creators: Oxborrow, L., Claxton, S., Cooper, T. and Hill, H.
Publisher: Nottingham Trent University: CADBE
Place of Publication: Nottingham
Date: 2015
ISBN: 9780957600997
Rights: [© Nottingham Trent University 2015]., cc Proceedings are under a Creative Common License Number CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 (
Divisions: Schools > School of Architecture, Design and the Built Environment
Schools > School of Art and Design
Record created by: Jill Tomkinson
Date Added: 08 Apr 2016 10:03
Last Modified: 02 May 2018 13:05

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