Shah, Karen (2015) Dilemmas of Development and The Reconstruction of Fashion. In: Environmental Implications of Recycling and Recycled Products. Environmental Footprints and Eco-design of Products and Processes (2015). Springer, London, UK, pp. 101-134. ISBN 978-981-287-642-3

Sustainable development by its nature appears elusive. It seems the more we try to capture and pin it down the more it moves away from us leading us into murkier waters and all manner of contradictions. No more is this felt than in the fashion industry where we are presented with a number of oppositions. The fashion cycle renders styles obsolete before they have worn out generating waste and over-consumptive practices. But it can also bring into the fore practices that have resonance to sustainable development in terms of their location, orientation and consideration for the environment. As studies emerge considering the detrimental environmental impacts of the manufacture and consumption of new clothes, second-hand clothes have become a focus for research endeavours considering how they can be reincorporated into the fashion system and have resonance to an ever ‘fashion’ hungry consumer. This chapter discusses methods for the processing of second-hand clothes into fashionable items and, by drawing on the wealth of ‘waste’ materials through reselling, restyling and remanufacturing, argues that ways of re-appropriating them into a more environmentally focused fashion industry is possible and necessary. It sets out as it hypothesis that the global fashion system has value in its transformative powers but that damaging and exploitative forces are still preventing it from being a force for good. This is due to the nature of the items being produced, the way they are manufactured and how they are ultimately consumed and disposed of.

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