Clothing Upcycling, Textile Waste and the Ethics of the Global Fashion Industry


  • Kirsten Koch University of Otago



clothing upcycling, global fashion ethics, textile waste, textile employment


This article addresses the fashion movement referred to as ‘clothing upcycling’ and the observations of textile practitioners and designers in Otago, New Zealand utilising these methods to further understand the upcycling movement and how these local actions connect to the global upcycling movement. This article is informed by a more substantive sociology masters project which interviewed local designers about what they were upcycling and why they were using this approach in their design. This research centres on a group working in a somewhat obscure and isolated region of the world yet because fashion is a globally connected industry, all designers, textile practitioners, and textile workers working conditions, production and sales are constrained by the current state of global economics and the global fashion industry even if the local environment and responses of various communities to these factors is distinctive. This makes clothing upcycling in Otago, an interesting comparison to the industry forces and fashion initiatives other writers and critics are witnessing in their local fashion scene. The term ‘clothing upcycling’ is chosen for its current relevance within fashion theory especially theories discussing the human and environmental ethics of both fashion production, fashion consumption and textile and clothing disposal and recycling.


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How to Cite

Koch, K. (2019). Clothing Upcycling, Textile Waste and the Ethics of the Global Fashion Industry. ZoneModa Journal, 9(2), 173–184.