Clothing Circulator - Data to extend the lifetime of garments

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Proceedings of the 20th European Roundtable on Sustainable Consumption and Production
Fashion industry is the second largest polluter in the world. To tackle the environmental crisis globally, we must minimize the environmental impact of fashion industry. The extension of garment lifetimes leading into smaller number of garments produced and sold has been identified essential towards sustainable fashion. This requires novel business models substituting volume-based fashion business. The purpose of this study is to investigate, how data can be used to promote the reuse of clothing and sustainable fashion. The first result is a state-of-the-art review focusing on clothing reuse. An integrative literature review method was used to examine the consumer challenges, current services and technologies. Previous research has identified challenges on reuse of different products as well as usage of consumer-to-consumer marketplaces to be on selling and buying experience, trust on the marketplace as well as quality of the product, and difficulties in finding the required size and style. The review provides a logical starting point for the second result, which is a multifaceted description of the Clothing Circulator concept. The concept presents a novel data-driven solution for extending the garment lifetimes and it was created as a multidisciplinary collaboration between fashion, consumer, service and technology researchers during a series of 7 workshops. Holistic, transparent view on the garment lifecycle from design to material recycling is the essence of the concept, which describes stakeholders and their roles, data sources in different phases through the garment’s lifecycle, key enabling technologies and consumer aspects that are relevant for the clothing circulator solution. The consumer gets tools to curate wardrobe with a stylish and sustainable selection of garments. It helps in reselling the underused items and estimates the value of the underused garments based on big data from the marketplaces. For the brands the concept provides data on usage of the garments: how often the items are used, how long the items are kept as part of the wardrobe, what kind of combinations are created with the brand items, what type of customers seem to like/dislike the items, what is the resale value of the items and finally, how the items are recycled in the end of the lifecycle. Based on these insights, the brands can base the design choices on measured data, which optimally leads to diminished waste of unsold items as the design and production would meet better the consumer expectations. This research is a first step towards data-driven approach to support reuse of garments, and hence extending garment lifetimes and more sustainable fashion. In the sustainable fashion research, the data-driven solutions to support reuse or decision-making in the design and production phases have not been extensively studied, even if sustainable consumption is a rising trend among “early adopter” consumers, especially in younger age groups. In the future, the research community should study the topic from a multidisciplinary perspective involving e.g. consumer, technology, data and business research together with the industry, targeting at the development of successful data-intensive solutions to support sustainable fashion.
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Järvinen , S , Mäkelä , S-M , Häikiö , J & Karell , E 2021 , Clothing Circulator - Data to extend the lifetime of garments . in H Schnitzer & S Braunegg (eds) , Proceedings of the 20th European Roundtable on Sustainable Consumption and Production . , 124 , Verlag der Technischen Universität Graz , Graz, Austria , pp. 251-260 , European Roundtable on Sustainable Consumption and Production , Graz , Austria , 08/09/2021 .