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July 2008
New Book Examines Fashion Sustainability

Dr. Janet Hethorn
Dr. Janet Hethorn
Dept. of Fashion
& Apparel Studies,
University of Delaware

Sustainability and the footprint of the fashion industry on the environment are issues affecting all levels of the fashion industry from design and raw materials to manufacturing, distribution, and consumer buying, according to Janet Hethorn, professor of fashion and apparel studies at the University of Delaware.

To address these issues, Hethorn and her colleague, Connie Ulasewicz of San Francisco State University, have written Sustainable Fashion: Why Now. The book is targeted not only to those currently in the fashion field but also to the students who are the future of the industry.

Writing about fashion, whose hallmark is change, and sustainability may seem an oxymoron, Hethorn said, but there are many ways that the industry can cut down on waste, have less impact on the environment, and go green.

The book is based on a model for sustainable fashion involving the interaction between people, processes, and the environment. People represent consumers who need to know how to make informed choices; processes can be altered to reduce waste and be eco-friendly, and the environment focuses on materials, such as fibers, and how they are made.

The book is divided into three main sections — “Connecting with People on Sustainable Practices,” “Production and Economic Processes in the Global Economy,” and “The Environment, the Planet and the Materials Used in Fashion Making,” with an introduction by the authors and chapters by experts in the fashion field. Belinda Orzada, UD associate professor of fashion and apparel studies, was co-author of “Environmental Impact of Textile Production.”

Hethorn wrote a chapter on “Consideration of Consumer Desire,” which explores ways designers and product developers can “positively meet people’s needs through fashion.” Her focus is on putting the consumer “in the center of the conversation” by knowing their needs and designing toward those needs, as the “core to sustainability.”

Fashion sustainability is more than recycled materials, although they play a role, Hethorn said. “Sustainability is about seeking solutions while maintaining healthy economics and solving social inequities,” Hethorn wrote, adding, “We should use these resources to meet our own needs today while ensuring that future generations will also be able to meet their needs.”

Hethorn has put her beliefs on sustainability into practice as well. She won the Best Sustainable Design Award at the 2006 International Textiles and Apparel Associating Design Exhibition for her “Re-Make 1,” a coat made out of thrift shop finds.

Article by Sue Moncure

Photo by Tyler Jacobson


UD’s Master of Science in Fashion Studies Combines
Product Innovation with Consumer Behavior

The growth and dominance of large multinational apparel brands and retailers has created a need for fashion professionals who are

The Master of Science in Fashion Studies at the University of Delaware is unique in that all students complete design innovation and consumer behavior courses to bring an understanding of both to solving problems in the global fashion industry. Graduates of the program are able to create value for a firm by integrating knowledge about consumer research, product design, product merchandising, product sourcing, and product presentation.

The program builds upon particular strengths of the faculty in UD's Department of Fashion and Apparel Studies, who have won numerous awards in international competition for designs and research and have had considerable success in grantsmanship. Their research and scholarship center around consumer behavior, design, visual style, and social responsibility and sustainability. The faculty is committed to a graduate program that creatively blends empirical research and creative scholarship.

Concepts and practices from social responsibility and sustainability underlie the graduate program. Students take 32 credit hours of course work and research. Twenty credits are taken in fashion and apparel studies courses in topics such as research analysis in fashion studies, the global fashion consumer, theory of design and aesthetics, sustaining global supply chains, and interdisciplinary approaches to creative problem solving. Six additional credits are taken in research methods and statistics, and six credits support thesis research. A limited number of assistantships are available; for more information visit the program's Web pages.


Industry Resources

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