Where does wearable technology fit in the Circular Economy?

O'MAHONY, Marie and GWILT, Alison (2016). Where does wearable technology fit in the Circular Economy? In: Circular Transitions A Mistra Future Fashion Conference on Textile Design and the Circular Economy. University of the Arts London. (In Press)

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Abstract

Environmental concerns have become a core focus in today’s fashion and textile industry. Sustainability underlies all aspects of the industry from sourcing raw materials through design, manufacturing, consumer use and end-of-life disposal. Wearable electronics has emerged from a niche industry to one with an estimated market value of US$20billion in 2015 and expected to rise to US$70 billion by 2025 (Harrop, 2015). Although still a relatively immature industry, it is starting to recognise environmental concerns but thus far it has not become an industry driver. In this paper we first look at the current state of sustainability within wearable technology. In the second section we identify key drivers and issues then propose ways in which wearable technology can more fully embrace the Circular Economy. In the concluding section we look at future technologies and their likely environmental impact. As wearable technology has now started to mature all aspects of sustainability need to be addressed. We will look at lessons that can be taken and applied from the textile and fashion industry such as the sourcing, use, reuse and disposal of material. We will also examine issues unique to wearable technology for example the need for a power supply and the problem of technological obsolescence within the garment. From a design perspective we examine the ways in which wearable technology is applied within fashion and how this could more closely relate to the activity of garment use. From this position we then question whether it is possible for wearable technology to contribute to garment longevity by examining issues and concepts related to fashionability, durability, and repair. In the concluding portion of the paper we consider the introduction of future technologies and disruptive manufacturing processes that have the potential to provide challenges that demand design and manufacturing solutions that are both sustainable and innovative.

Item Type: Book Section
Research Institute, Centre or Group: Cultural Communication and Computing Research Institute > Art and Design Research Centre
Depositing User: Alison Gwilt
Date Deposited: 02 Feb 2017 11:09
Last Modified: 02 Feb 2017 11:16
URI: http://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/15005

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