Crafting sustainable repairs: practice-based approaches to extending the life of clothes

McLaren, A. ORCID: 0000-0002-9909-5403 and Mclauchlan, S., 2015. Crafting sustainable repairs: practice-based approaches to extending the life of clothes. In: T. Cooper, N. Braithwaite, 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. 221-228. ISBN 9780957600997


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Mass-produced ‘fast fashion’ has changed our relationship with clothing – cheap and easy to acquire, we are unlikely to take time to undertake simple repairs or address issues of maintenance, often caused or exacerbated by poor construction and low quality materials (see for example Goworek et al., 2012; You Gov, 2012; Fletcher, 2008; Birtwistle & Moore, 2007). Through complete lifecycle assessment, extending the useful life of clothes has been identified as the most significant intervention in reducing the impact of the clothing industry (Wrap, 2012). However, academic research emerging from both the UK and Scandinavia has identified practical, social, socioeconomic, systemic and psychological barriers that prevent consumers from performing even the most basic of repairs, and as a result damaged or worn items are discarded or taken out of active use (see for example Armstrong et al., 2014; Middleton, 2014; Cooper et al., 2014; Fletcher, 2013; Goworek et al., 2012; Laitala & Boks, 2012). This paper explores the barriers to mending, different perspectives on the reasons behind them, suggested solutions and contemporary approaches to overcoming them. As textile designers and academics whose work is embedded in sustainable principles, we discuss the findings of our own practice-based approaches in relation to these, in order to consider the role fashion and textile designers can play in enabling solutions. Research has been gathered through participatory design workshops and public engagement events, informed by review of historical, existing and emerging repair practices, and personal craft-led design praxis. We have explored ways to address the barriers, add value to the acts of repair by re-framing them as social design-led sharing activities, and discuss the potential of participatory craft praxis as a tool to motivate greater public engagement in repair practice.

Item Type: Chapter in book
Alternative Title: Proceedings of the Product Lifetimes and the Environment Conference, 17-19 June 2015
Proceedings of the PLATE Conference, 17-19 June 2015
Creators: McLaren, A. and Mclauchlan, S.
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
Record created by: EPrints Services
Date Added: 09 Oct 2015 10:05
Last Modified: 09 Jun 2017 13:18

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