Transformational Cloth: Weaving the Undervalued Threads of Textile Waste into a Value Added Change Model
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This thesis identifies some of the issues surrounding an unsustainable manufacturing cycle and the associated problems of pre- and post-consumer textile waste that continue to cause considerable environmental problems when sent to landfill. Existing sustainable fashion theory proposes that one solution to unsustainable practices within the industry relies on building a re-connection between the value of fashion garments and the textile involved in their production. A key outcome of this research is the development of a new approach to textile recycling that considers the materials life cycle within a circular economy. The project engages directly with individual New Zealand companies to re-circuit their manufacturing waste streams by developing a customised design solution that recycles their textile waste locally. It aims to develop a model where the scale of textile waste is matched with the scale of intervention and style of innovation. New Zealand has limited infrastructure in place for textile recycling; therefore, this offers a unique opportunity for the development of new ways of thinking and new models of engagement. The outcome is a local recycling system that alters the current production model by demonstrating how textile waste can be diverted from landfill and reanimated through the use of textile technologies and design, tangibly maximising the utility of textile waste. The research initiates a model of innovative sustainable practice into New Zealand’s fashion manufacturing industry by developing a solution to their textile waste offering relevant contemporary recycled textiles. The experimental design practice recycles the textile waste of several apparel companies, offering a proof of concept for the proposed model, which highlights the future possibility for a localised recycling system. Moreover, the study demonstrates the potential for textile production to reconnect people with the value of the original fibres. It is envisaged that the outcomes of this research will be used to inform initiatives to enable New Zealand to aim towards zero textile waste in the future. It is intended that this research will make a meaningful measured contribution to the continuum of sustainable development through innovation and design.