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Unlocking the Reuse Revolution for Fashion: A Canadian Case Study

Robbins, Laura (2019) Unlocking the Reuse Revolution for Fashion: A Canadian Case Study. [MRP]

Item Type: MRP
Creators: Robbins, Laura

This research aims to explore the potential of clothing reuse as a stepping stone towards a more circular economy for fashion. A systems approach to problem finding, framing, and solving is applied to explore how we might increase fashion reuse behaviours amongst consumers and industry alike. This research includes an analysis of the key barriers that prevent higher rates of participation in fashion reuse despite the potential economic, environmental, and social benefits of doing so (Part 2), and identifies areas of opportunity to focus innovation (Part 3). Research methodology included more than 30 one-on-one consumer interviews, 20 interviews with industry professionals along the fashion value chain, and an extensive environmental scan with a particular focus on the Canadian market. While this research aims to be accessible for all, the intended audience for this paper includes industry professionals, individual consumers, and regulators with the desire or agency to create meaningful change to the current fashion system in Canada and beyond.

This study identified a variety of psychological and physical barriers preventing reuse adoption. For consumers, this is primarily a self-regulation challenge, enabled by our biological design and a cultural environment that has been purposefully constructed to exploit consumer behaviour for profit. This is further reinforced by a deep stigma towards used fashions within a culture that values newness and convenience above quality and longevity. For industry, fast fashion business models challenge both the economics and practicality of reuse, while lack of regulation and barriers to scale reuse models enable the status quo to persist.

An analysis of these barriers suggests several points of leverage to focus resources and efforts for innovation to drive increased participation in fashion reuse. Emergent examples from fashion reuse are presented and discussed to inspire action in four key opportunity areas for innovation including: (1) destigmatizing used clothing; (2) addressing our culture of accumulation and disposal; (3) increasing the attractiveness of reuse for consumers; and (4) motivating increased industry participation.

Clothing reuse may not be the sole solution to the global fashion industry’s long-term sustainability challenges but it is a critical step along the path to creating a more circular and sustainable economy in which fashion can flourish and provides a mechanism for changing the way we think about the true cost, and potential value, of our clothing. While this research sheds light on many of the challenges and innovation opportunities that exist for clothing reuse on the horizon, turning insight into action is a key next step for further exploration.

Date: 2019
Uncontrolled Keywords: Fashion; Reuse; Circular Economy; Resale; Second-hand
Divisions: Graduate Studies > Strategic Foresight and Innovation
Date Deposited: 13 Jan 2020 21:39
Last Modified: 20 Dec 2021 21:45
URI: http://openresearch.ocadu.ca/id/eprint/2822

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