LCAs and the Great Data Gap

Seminar 6th October 2022, 7:50 PM-8:10 PM EDT

At the WEAR Conference 6th-7th October, 2022.
Virtual/In-person at Beanfield Centre, Toronto.

LCAs and the Great Data Gap

The fashion industry is facing a critical issue when it comes to data. The majority of brands rely on lifecycle assessments (LCAs) which use global averages to …

A conversation between:

Ingun Grimstad Klepp
Professor – Clothing and Sustainability, Consumption Research Norway, Oslo Metropolitan University

Ani Wells
Communications Lead, Transformers Foundation

Karine Kicak
Associate Director Sustainable Product & Consumption, Anthesis

Vidhura Ralapanawe
Executive VP, Epic Group

WEAR Conference

WEAR is Canada’s premier forum hosted by Fashion Takes Action, that aims to inspire and accelerate sustainability within the global fashion industry. This year’s theme, Impact with Intention, recognizes that it’s not enough to simply set a goal. Intention provides us with purpose, inspiration and motivation to achieve measurable impact.

Once again, WEAR is bringing global brand owners, retailers, academics, manufacturers, NGO’s, innovators, and policymakers together, to accelerate our collective efforts toward progress and a more conscious fashion future.

Use this link to link for more information and to sign up for the conference (fashiontakesaction.com).

CHANGE seminar in Copenhagen

Friday 30th September 2022, 14:00-17:00.
The Royal Danish Academy, Philip de Langes Allé 10, Copenhagen.

You are hereby invited to participate in a seminar hosted by the research project

CHANGE: Environmental system shift in clothing consumption


The seminar has the purpose of developing a deeper understanding of wardrobe research, and the new understandings this research area can bring in terms of methodologies, policy-making, historical research on clothing, and of education.

Programme:


2-2.15: What is Wardrobe Research and what kinds of futures does it suggest? by PL, Professor, PhD Ingun Grimstad Klepp from OsloMet/SIFO.
2.15-2.30: Preliminary insights of Wardrobe Research and occasions by Associate Professor, PhD Irene Maldini from Lusófona University in Lisbon, PhD fellow Vilde Haugrønning from OsloMet/SIFO and Fashion designer Lucrecia de León from Universidad de la República
2.30-4 Workshop: WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM WARDROBE RESEARCH by Kate Fletcher, Professor, PhD and Else Skjold, Associate Professor, PhD – both at the Royal Danish Academy


Participants will be invited to take part in the following tracks:

  1. wardrobes and politics/regulation
  2. wardrobe methodology
  3. historical aspects of wardrobe research
  4. wardrobe methods in education


4-4.45: Presentation and discussion of reflections, ideas, visions etc.


The seminar will take place at the Royal Danish Academy, Philip de Langes Allé 10, 1435 Copenhagen K in Building 53, Auditorium 6 on Friday the 30th of September 2022 at 2-5pm.


Online participation is possible but registration is necessary.

Please rsvp before the 26th of September to nbr@kglakademi.dk

Clothing research at the ESA Sociology of Consumption Conference

Last week SIFO hosted a conference for The European Sociological Association (ESA)’s Research Network of Sociology of Consumption. The theme for the conference was “Consumption, justice and futures: Where do we go from here? (oslomet.no)“. 146 participants from all over Europe gathered for the event and most of SIFO’s clothing researchers were among them.

The clothing research group’s Vilde Haugrønning presented her work in the i CHANGE project and discussed the preliminary findings and method development on the basis of the pilot study carried out in Norway o, Uruguay and Portugal. The title for the presentation was: «Occasions and clothing volumes: wardrobe pilots in Norway, Portugal and Uruguay». You can read the abstract using this link (conftool.org).

Clothing as part of the thematic

The conference contributed new insights and as one of the large areas of consumption, clothing was mentioned in many contexts. In the form of fashion, it was only natural that clothing was used as the major example and how consumers are primed for getting a «taste for variety» in Sophie Dubuisson-Quellier’s keynote presentation: «Why do we consume so much? Exploring the lock-ins of affluent consumption».

Julie Madon’s presentation «To make or not to make objects last? Consumers between prosumption and the desire for simplicity», was closely related to the theme in our Lasting project and examined several product groups. An important point from the presentation was how subjective the judgement of when something is used up is – for some, holes in the shoes are acceptable, as the shoe itself can still be used, but for others would throw them away at any visible sign of use. You can read the abstract from the presentation here (confrool.org).

In the same session, Victoire Sessego presented «Do-It-Yourself practices throughout generations: the effects of digitalisation». She pointed out that even though her presentation was part of a “Sustainable Consumption”-session, many of her informants’ DIY practices were highly unsustainable. You can read the abstract here (confrool.org).

Clothing as the main research topic

In addition to these presentations and others that included clothing and textiles as a part of the scope, several were also focused specifically on clothing.

Reka Ines Tölg presented her PhD work at Lund University, about the circulation of responsibility between consumers and producers of clothing. The title of her presentation was «Consume with care and responsibility! The material-semiotic making and distribution of responsibilities in green marketing». We, in the clothing research group, noted in particular that a story of the fragility of clothing was being told by the clothing producers and how this transferred responsibility onto the consumer if the clothing should break. Our question would then be if the producers shouldn’t instead make clothes of better quality to begin with? You can read the abstract by following this link (conftool.org).

In the same session, Gabriella Wulff from the University of Gothenburg presented her work on discount practices: «The Future of Discounting Practices? Materials, meanings, and competences in the Swedish Fashion Retail Sector». From our perspective, it was particularly interesting how the sector itself sees these practices as a necessary evil in a business model based on economy of scale and large advance order quantities. Simultaneously, they do attempt to “activate” garments in different ways to avoid reducing prices as much. The findings point to other aspects of the overproduction that is rampant in the clothing industry. You can read the abstract here (conftool.org).

Consumption of second-hand clothing was also discussed when Ariela Mortara talked about her research on the users of the Vinted App in Italy in the presentation «Second-hand clothing between savings and sustainability: Vinted case history». You can read the abstract via this link (conftool.org).

Deep diving into wardrobes provides important knowledge on clothes and their environmental impact

Norway leads the way in methods for studying the use of clothing. This is knowledge that is important in sustainability studies of apparel.

How many clothes are there in our wardrobes? What is used a lot and what do you seldom wear, and why? Which clothes have the largest environmental footprint? What causes clothes to be cared for and repaired?

There are many unanswered questions when the desire is to understand the connection between the consumption of clothing, and climate and environmental impacts. We need to understand why someone has a wardrobe full of clothes and still nothing to wear. To answer these questions, methods that can reconcile the concrete material with the way we use, buy, repair, launder, choose and not least throw away clothes, are required.

The method called “wardrobe studies” is very central in studies of clothing’s environmental impact. Consumption Research Norway (SIFO) at Oslo Metropolitan University has been at the centre of the development of these methods for 23 years. Today, the method is included in research, teaching, product development and design worldwide.

Research in people’s homes

The method involves the researcher and informant going through the informant’s wardrobe piece by piece, together. In some studies, the entire wardrobe is reviewed and in others, selected parts such as passive clothes, leisure and sports clothes, or favourite clothes are specifically studied. When the clothes are reviewed, the researcher asks the same questions for each garment. This gives us opportunities to analyze differences in the way different garments are used.

The method is time-consuming but provides detailed and reliable knowledge. Ideally, we do this at the informants’ homes and thus also gain knowledge about details around the organisation, storage, laundering and care of the clothes.

Clothes are complex

Wardrobe studies are particularly suitable for studying practices that we often take for granted. The practices are important to understand in order to gain better knowledge of consumption patterns, and thus how they can be changed in a more sustainable direction. The special feature of the method is that the clothes are at the centre of the analysis.

Clothes are very complex materially, socially and culturally. They are made from most types of materials, from animals and plants, including metal and chemicals and increasingly plastic. They are used to camouflage the body, keep it warm, decorate, protect and show belonging to cultures, groups, places and positions in society. Clothes are important for self-respect, security and social participation.

In order to embrace so many different aspects and see them in context, methods are required which have the capacity to connect the actual material with the practices and their many different meanings, both for the individual and society.

What properties do the clothes have?

Wardrobe studies lead to more knowledge about the use of clothes. This stands in contrast to studies that are concerned with clothes related to fashion, often understood as the novelty value of the clothes. In such studies, some things are often excluded, namely the material properties of the clothes, as well as all the nuances in the relationship between the wearer of the clothes and the clothes themselves, and the interplay between the clothes in the wardrobe.

After conversations with people about clothes over several decades, we have rarely heard informants say that fashion is important to them, and it is much more common to say the opposite. Fashion is an aspect of our clothes, but for most people, there are completely different reasons for both what you buy and what you wear. Fashion can make it difficult to find something you like in the store, such as the colour you think suits you, or a shape that is perceived as flattering.

Few know how many clothes they own

To capture the material in wardrobe studies, various techniques are used to obtain information about each individual garment such as photos, interviews, registrations and technical analyses. This gives the advantage that the information becomes concrete and tied to both the material and social aspects, and thus not so dependent on words alone.

Clothing habits, like other parts of our daily lives, are something we don’t usually think about. Therefore, they are also difficult to put into words in a conversation or interview situation. It is easier to describe the clothes and how they are used when we talk about specific garments. It will then be possible for us researchers later to see the relationship between the clothes and the wearer, and pursue what lies behind the words.

Very few know the average age of their own wardrobe or how many clothes they actually have. We ask people about what they know and have a relationship with, but compile the information ourselves with national or global averages, or qualitatively based interpretations.

Knowledge to inform policy

Today, SIFO has several ongoing research projects with wardrobe studies: CHANGE, Wasted Textiles and Belong, all funded by the Research Council of Norway. Here the wardrobe studies are used to study how we use clothes for different occasions and the importance of variation in clothing habits, how we can reduce the amount of textiles and specifically synthetic textiles, and the importance of clothes for belonging.

In all projects, wardrobe studies contribute to important knowledge about the importance of clothing and textiles in our everyday lives. This knowledge is crucial to developing policies capable of drastically reducing climate and environmental impact, and at the same time ensuring everyone in the population has access to good clothing.

An important challenge in the work with clothing and the environment has long been very inadequate life cycle analyses (LCAs). Without knowledge of lifespan, disposable products are compared to clothes that are worn 500 times or more.

No one would argue that such a use of LCAs is correct, but going from this point of departure to finding methods to include lifespan in LCAs of environmental impact, is quite a challenge. SIFO has further developed the wardrobe studies method in a quantitative direction in order to obtain knowledge about global clothing habits suitable for such analyses.

Consumption is important

In these studies, we work with detailed information on 53,461 garments which gives the opportunity to ask questions about, for example, differences between different types of garments, fibres or what the clothes are used for. This is very relevant when the EU is now developing a new labelling scheme, the Product Environmental Footprint (PEF), which will include textiles. SIFO, therefore, contributes to the development of the rules specific to clothing in this labelling scheme. There, as in many other contexts, it is difficult to get the impression that consumption is important.

The work with wardrobe studies shows that in research it is not only important to develop good questions, but that the methods must also be adapted so that we researchers are able to deliver the knowledge that society needs. Climate and environmental problems cannot be solved without knowledge of people, society, politics and regulation. It is urgent to take the fact that we humans have created the problems seriously, but that we can also solve them. For that, we need more knowledge about ourselves and our habits and the way we use products that burden the climate and the environment a lot, such as apparel.

A comprehensive overview of research and projects that use wardrobe studies can be found on this web site and publications related to wardrobe studies can be found by clicking here.

This article draws on the following research:

Fletcher, K. and Klepp, I. G. (eds.) (2017) Opening Up the Wardrobe: A Methods Book. Oslo: Novus.
Klepp, I. G. and Bjerck, M. (2014) ‘A methodological approach to the materiality of clothing: Wardrobe Studies’, International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 17(4), pp. 373-386.
Klepp, I. G., Laitala, K., & Wiedmann, S. (2020). Clothing Lifespans: What Should Be Measured and How. Sustainability, 12(15).
Laitala, K., Klepp, I. G. and Henry, B. (2018) ‘Does Use Matter? Comparison of Environmental Impacts of Clothing Based on Fiber Type’, Sustainability, 10(7).
Laitala, K., & Klepp, I. G. (2020). What Affects Garment Lifespans? International Clothing Practices Based on a Wardrobe Survey in China, Germany, Japan, the UK, and the USA. Sustainability, 12(21), 9151.

Fleece To Fashion Conference 2022

Creativity, Authenticity and Sustainability in Knitted Textiles

Thursday 8th to Friday 9th September, University of Glasgow

This conference brings together academics and creatives to present and discuss historical and contemporary knitwear processes and practices.

The 2 keynote speakers are:

Stana Nenadic, Professor of Social and Cultural History, University of Edinburgh (Thursday 8th September)

Natalie Warner, Designer/Teacher/Writer (Friday 9th September)

Running in tandem with the conference will be a market hall offering yarns, knitted accessories, knitting kits, hand-dyed yarns, and knitting sundries.

All are welcome!

Ingun, Tone and Hanne will be speaking on Day 1:

14.15 – 15.30 Panel 3: Wool, Landscape and Sustainability

100% Wool – PLEED’s Campaign for the Reappraisal of Local Wool
(Gieneke Arnolli and Johanna Van Benthem, Pleed)

Knitting a New Future: Patterns and design embracing nature, indigenous breeds and artisanal processed yarns
(Tone Skårdal Tobiasson – Journalist and Author; Ingun Grimstad Klepp – Oslo Metropolitan University; and Hanne Torjusen)

‘Irish wool’s too hard’?: The influence of place-based knitting cultures on sheep rearing and wool production in Ireland and Shetland
(Siun Carden, Research Fellow, University of the Highlands and Islands)

Click here for more information and registration (gla.ac.uk).

Natural Fibre Connect 2022

Online Grower & Herder Conference – 07-09 September 2022

This year the Wool Connect Conference by the Schneider Group turns into the Natural Fibre Connect Conference.

The conference includes 3 live days filled with expert speakers, recorded talks, and roundtable discussions aimed at tackling the common challenges of the alpaca, cashmere, mohair and wool industries. With each talk and panel, we will aim to highlight the perspective of growers and herders around the world.

Ingun and Tone will speak at this event.

PROGRAM

Wednesday, 7 September 2022 7:00-10:00 UTC & 14:00-17:00 UTC

Welcome to Day 1:Emerging Trends

TALKS: Shifting times

The world seems in constant crisis mode as we receive news about the war in Ukraine, high-energy prices, inflation, the ongoing pandemic, supply chain issues and climate change. In this session, we get an overview of how current events are shaping the industry.

PANEL: Stopping Greenwashing – Product Environmental Footprint (PEF)

In this panel, we get an update from various experts concerning Life Cycle Assessment and the European Union’s Product Environmental Footprint. In particular, we explore the small successes natural fibres have achieved in the fight for data-driven carbon accounting versus synthetic textiles led greenwashing. 

TALKS: The Opportunities of Web 3.0 for the Textile Industry

In this session, we dive into the future of the metaverse, web.3.0 and blockchain technology. We find out how the natural fibre industry can benefit from emerging tech to stay relevant and improve sustainability.

Roundtables open

Thursday, 8 September 2022 7:00-10:00 UTC & 14:00-17:00 UTC


Welcome to Day 2: Challenges

TALKS: The Realities of Animal Welfare – The Challenges Growers and Herders Face

For centuries, growers and herders have had a close, caring and dependent relationship with their animals and nature, often embedded in traditional knowledge. In this session, we dive deep into the expectations on animal welfare, how distinct guidelines may not always be practical and why animals are still well taken care of.

TALKS: Putting Social Welfare on the Agenda – Recognising Natural Fibres as the Engine of Rural Economies

In this panel, we get an update from various experts concerning Life Cycle Assessment and the European Union’s Product Environmental Footprint. In particular, we explore the small successes natural fibres have achieved in the fight for data-driven carbon accounting versus synthetic textiles led greenwashing.

How to Unlock Regenerative Agriculture for Arid Regions

In this session, we dive into the future of the metaverse, web.3.0 and blockchain technology. We find out how the natural fibre industry can benefit from emerging tech to stay relevant and improve sustainability.Regenerative Agriculture continues to be of high interest to the fashion textile supply chain. However, the devil sits in the details, as not all regenerative practices are the right fit for all regions. In this session, panelists will discuss what options arid regions have and how we can create a common language and definitions to progress and benefit together.

Roundtables open

Friday, 9 September 2022 7:00-10:00 UTC & 14:00-17:00 UTC


Welcome to Day 3: Innovations

TALK: How Traceability is Reshaping the Industry

This session explores how transparency is transforming business through the use of technology, directly connecting all actors of the supply chain and simplifying certifications.

PANEL: How Green Finance can Support Growers

If the future is more green, finance will be too. This session looks at how the finance sector is reacting to climate change by allocating relevant funds to build a sustainable future. The panellists of this session will share how they are rethinking finance and what green investment opportunities lie ahead for growers and herders. 

TALK: Hearing Directly from Growers & Herders

Hear a recap of the in-person grower and herder meetings that have taken place this week and what growers had to say about the main talks of this conference. What are the main challenges they are facing, how do they view market trends and what innovations are taking place at grower level. Each fibre will have a closing message of what we want to achieve in the future by taking action.

Roundtables open

Click here for more information and registration (gschneider.com).

Visit to Poland

Ingvild and Lisbeth visited Poland the last week of June. The goal of the trip was knowledge transfer and during it, they held three workshops/seminars.

At the University of Bielsko-Biala, teachers and pedagogy students were invited to a workshop about teaching wool to children, emphasising the creative potential as well as cultural aspects of wool. Through a short lecture, they were introduced to how different actors in Norway work with wool and children, and then we worked practically with wet felting, carding and hand spinning.
At the university, they also held the seminar “How can wool replace plastic?”, discussing the advantages and obstacles to this, building on SIFO’s research reports on wool products published last year in this project. The example of Selbu Spinning Mill was used to show how the local wool comes into play in this context and underline the advantages of wool compared to plastic in relation to preserving heritage, creating a circular (bio-)economy and degrowth.

Felting with teachers and pedagogy students

The last workshop was a wool sorting workshop held by Ingvild at Maria’s venue in Koniakow. It gathered 20 people, both sheep farmers, other local people and academics. The sorting showed great variety in the quality of the wool, from finer longer fibres to coarser fibres, but also that through it, the variety of products possible to make from the wool greatly increases, including softer yarns for garments like socks and sweaters.


In addition, they visited local museums in Koniakow and saw the milking of the sheep, getting a great insight into the cultural heritage that the pastoral practice upheld in the Polish highlands is such an important part of! (Not to mention the lovely cheese it results in!)

New Make the Label Count White paper outlines important shortcomings for PEF

The report, that Ingun and Kirsi have contributed to, identifies key areas that are not aligned with other EU environmental strategies and that will have detrimental environmental effects if not amended.

Key whitepaper findings:

  • Issue #1: The PEF system does not currently take into account microplastics
    • Omitting microplastics as an indicator effectively assigns zero impacts to this form of emissions, which risks unintentionally guiding consumers towards plastic products and fibres.
    • Therefore, the system does not align with the CEAP, The Strategy for Plastics in a Circular Economy, the Strategy for Sustainable and Circular Textiles or the EU Strategy for Textiles Roadmap
    • The white paper proposes an ‘inventory-level’ indicator – this is a simple summation of modelled microplastic emissions across the life cycle
  • Issue #2: The PEF system does not currently include plastic waste
    • The increase in consumption of synthetic fibres has been accompanied by an increase in the mass of plastic waste originating from the textile supply chain
    • The absence of plastic waste in the PEF methodology therefore has the potential to contribute to an inequitable comparison of natural and synthetic fibres
    • Therefore, the system does not align with the CEAP or the Packaging Directive
    • The white paper recommends the PEF system should include plastic waste as an indicator
  • Issue #3: The PEF system does not currently take into account renewability or biodegradability
    • The current methodology does not take into consideration the renewability or biodegradability of fibres. This means that synthetic fibres, which are made from non-renewable resources and disposed of in landfill, may be scored as more sustainable than natural or recycled fibres
    • Therefore, the system does not align with the CEAP or the Bioeconomy Strategy
    • The whitepaper proposes introducing circularity indicators such as the Material Circularity Indicator (MCI) into PEF

Click here to read the white paper (makethelabelcount.org).

DELIVERING EU ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY THROUGH FAIR COMPARISONS OF NATURAL AND SYNTHETIC FIBRE TEXTILES IN PEF

Make the Label Count Campaign: Simon J. Clarke, Ingun G. Klepp, Kirsi Laitala and Stephen G. Wiedemann.

Summary

Sustainability has become a priority objective for the European Union (EU). It is a key driver for policy development through the global leadership role the EU has taken in addressing climate change, decoupling economic growth from resource use, and the sustainable use of
resources. The global supply of textiles has been recognized by the EU as a major source of emissions and resource use; the sector has become increasingly reliant on fossil feedstocks to supply synthetic fibres, and the textile industry has been roundly criticised for unsustainable and non-circular consumption patterns.


The Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) system – which assesses a product’s environmental impact and provides consumers with information on that impact – has the potential to be paramount in directing the textile sector towards a sustainable system of production and consumption. However, the PEF system has not been designed to deliver the EU’s strategies and, without amendment, its application to the textiles sector risks undermining the EU’s laudable intent. The PEF system is designed to facilitate like-with-like comparisons, but assessment of textiles made from natural and synthetic fibres are not yet comparable because the impacts of forming natural fibres are fully accounted for, but omitted for fossil fuels. The single biggest sustainability issue for the textile industry is the growth in synthetic fibre production and the causally related rise in fast fashion. A PEF-derived comparison will not challenge the over-consumption of resources, and risks legitimising unsustainable consumption with an EU-backed green claim.


These limitations present a significant challenge to the delivery of both EU strategy and the PEF goal of providing fair comparisons of products based on their environmental credentials.


In combination, the characteristics of the textiles category, together with the limitations of PEF methodology, provide a strong argument for not comparing textiles made from renewable and non-renewable raw materials. However, achieving the EU Green Deal and circular economy objectives mandates a pragmatic approach; hence our analysis recommends methodological improvements to deliver EU environmental policy through fair comparisons of natural and synthetic fibre textiles in PEF. Addressing these limitations now will avoid
the same problems arising when PEF is applied to other product categories that compare renewable and non-renewable raw materials, such as furniture and fuel.

Click here to read the full report (makethelabelcount.org).

Local as a fashion change-maker

Hybrid event, 8th June 2022, 17:30-19:30 CET
Online and at Sentralen, Oslo

How can we bring the local alternatives to the forefront of the sustainability debate and in policy?

We have important decisions ahead to ensure a just transition to more sustainable ways of living. The new book “Local, slow and sustainable fashion: wool as a fabric for change” from the clothing research group at Consumption Research Norway SIFO, uses “wool as a lens through which to see important aspects of the contemporary world: corporate capitalism, consumerism, standardisation and their opposites: localised crafts and practices, quality of life, sustainability” (Professor Thomas Hylland Eriksen).

The clothing research group’s (world-renowned) wool and clothing research sits within the institute’s important research areas of local consumption and sustainability.

Click here for more information about the book: Local, Slow and Sustainable Fashion | SpringerLink

Program

Doors open at 17:00 CET

17:30: Welcome by Eivind Jacobsen, Institute Director at SIFO

17:35: The editors, Prof. Ingun Grimstad Klepp and Tone Skårdal Tobiasson introduce the book and the authors

17:40: Perspectives from authors and readers of the book, led by the editors:

Prof. Kate Fletcher, Centre for Sustainable Fashion, London College of Fashion, UK
Rebecca Burgess, M.Ed.,Executive Director of Fibershed, California
Gunnar Vittersø, Senior researcher at SIFO and the Amazing Grazing Project
Dr. Lorrie Miller, University of British Colombia, Canada
Elisabeth Stray Pedersen, Designer and owner, ESP
Maria Ehrnström-Fuentes, Associate Professor, Hanken School of Economics, Finland
Dr. Tone Smith, Member of Advisory board, Rethinking Economics Norway; Editor, Degrowth Norway
Gisle Mariani Mardal, Head of development, Norwegian Fashion & Textile Agenda, Oslo, Norway

18:55- 19:30: Streaming ends – in-person discussions and mingling

Click here to watch the event recording (facebook.com)