Re-Fashioning the Future: Eco-Friendly Apparel Design
Dombek-Keith, Kathleen Michelle
The main research question for this study was: how can eco-friendly apparel design re-think, or ?re-fashion,? consumer interactions with clothing in order to cause less environmental harm while also meeting or exceeding consumer wants and needs? The objective of this research was to create collections of eco-friendly apparel designs that would meet the goals for consumer appeal and behavioral influence, and then to exhibit them so that consumers could react to and rate the success of these design collections? concepts and executions in meeting those goals. Experts in eco-friendly clothing design provided feedback about an initial set of design goals derived from the literature review. A finalized list of Eco-Friendly Apparel Design Goals was developed that along with the literature review inspired the development of a new eco-design framework for this study called the ERRor-Friendly Framework: effective, resilient, and relational. These goals and principles were conceptualized and executed into eco-friendly apparel design collections. Each design concept was inspired by a combination of research-derived information, expert feedback, and personal inspiration. A panel of design critics evaluated the designs in order to solve problems, improve designs, and select the most viable ideas. In the end, a total of five eco-friendly apparel collections were created: two effective designs, one resilient design, and two relational designs. The Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) Label and T-shirts effective design provides consumers with environmental impact data on products so they can make informed choices and behaviors. The Green Clothing Care (GCC) Label and T-Shirts effective design encourages low-impact clothing care behaviors. The ?Suit Yourself? resilient design transforms over time to reflect current fashion trends and the wearer?s changing sizes so that consumers are more satisfied with their clothes and consume fewer clothes overall. The ?No Sew? Projects relational design provides easy, do-it-yourself projects that allow people with no sewing skills to be creative and make worthwhile products. ?The Dowry Dress? relational design re-thinks the life cycle of a wedding dress so that it becomes part of the entire life of the marriage. The five design collections were evaluated during a two-week exhibit at an art gallery in downtown Ithaca, NY. During the exhibit?s duration, 52 people participated in the study by completing a short questionnaire assessing each design collection?s appeal, behavioral influence, and interest in design features. General consumer attitude and behavior responses were used to identify them as either green or conventional consumers. The questionnaire data were analyzed using descriptive statistics to provide a summary of results and chi square tests for significant relationships between participants? consumer types and how they responded to the designs. The results showed that all of the designs possessed positive overall design appeal and the ability to influence behavioral change. Furthermore, analysis of consumer type with design assessment results showed no significant differences between how green and conventional consumers responded, except LCA Label influence. Based on the questionnaire results for the design assessment and the green and conventional consumer analysis, each of the five design collections met the study?s two overall goals for appealing to all consumers, both green and conventional, and influencing them to change their behaviors. This high appeal and influence indicates that each design has potential for certain commercial applications, which will have the potential to reduce environmental impact. However, this study only tested behavioral intentions rather than actual behaviors. Future studies are needed to evaluate whether these designs would in fact inspire the intended behavioral changes in consumers and that those behaviors would indeed produce a net reduction in environmental impact.
Dr. Suzanne Loker, Professor Sheila Danko
Cornell Human Ecology Alumni Association, Cornell Graduate School, Cornell College of Human Ecology
Eco-Friendly Design; Sustainable Design; Apparel Design; Eco Labels; Transformable Apparel; Green Consumers; Green Design; Life Cycle Analysis; Clothing Environmental Impacts; Eco-Fashion; Green Clothing; Organic Cotton; Organic Fibers; Ecodesign; Resiliency; Eco-Effective; Adjustable Fit; Eco-Friendly Materials; Eco-Friendly Fabrics; Clothing Care; Clothing Reuse; Clothing Recycling
dissertation or thesis
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