The growing concern about climate change has caused many of us to take a deeper look at the things we’re buying and throwing away, and the Consumer, Apparel, and Retail Studies Department is no exception. The apparel industry is one of the largest producers of manufacturing waste, so how can we, as an academic program, work towards more sustainable practices in the industry? It’s simple. We teach our students about sustainability in fashion to create a more conscious industry of the future.
CARS faculty member Anne Wood decided that the best way to teach students about sustainability was through CRS 312: Textile Apparel Analysis. This course, taught by Wood every semester, covers an overview of the physical structure and properties of fiber, yarns, fabric, and apparel and teaches students about quality control. Thanks to grant support provided by the Bryan School’s Virtual Collaboratory for Sustainable Business Practices, Wood has curated a Sustainable Apparel Library for CRS 312 so students can examine and evaluate garments made of sustainable materials. To piece together this collection, Wood researched companies and specific textiles for sustainability and sustainable practices using the triple bottom line approach, which focuses on people, planet, and profit. She looked for garments made from products that students might not have encountered before, such as milk solids, cactus, and recycled cashmere. In addition to examining sustainable fabrics, students explore fibersheds to better understand sustainability with regard to localized supply chain management, and to research companies that have garments included in the library to learn about that company’s definition of sustainability and how it achieves this definition in practice.
Wood’s favorite item in the Sustainable Apparel Library is a mohair buggy blanket from Saks Fifth Avenue Department Store from 1909 because it shows that sustainability can take many forms, such as longevity. Wood says, “My hope in creating this sustainable library is to help students gain an understanding and preference for designing and working with garments that are sustainable in their future careers.”
Other items in the collection include a Smart Wool tee shirt from Wool and Price, a hemp fitted long sleeve tee from backbeat co., an organic linen dress dyed with natural plant dye from Gaia Conceptions, a Freitag bag made from recycled billboard vinyl, a Koru Eco Brand swimsuit made of nylon from discarded fishing nets and carpet, a vegan leather tote from Peryan Vegan made from Apple skin leather and many more!
Learn more about the Virtual Collaboratory for Sustainable Business Practices at bryan.uncg.edu/virtual-collaboratory-for-sustainable-business-practices/