Wear Sustain Network: Ethical and Sustainable Technology Innovation in Wearables and Etextiles

December 1, 2018


Structured Abstract Purpose: As wearable technologies and eTextile sectors mature they are being increasingly used in couture and high street fashion. However, much of the innovation in this space has been driven by technological and commercial imperatives. It is time to re-consider this technological landscape in the bigger picture of a sustainable human-centred world.

Approach: This paper reports on initial findings from 48 projects supported through the EU funded WEAR Sustain network to examine sustainable and ethical approaches to wearable technology design. Case studies of collaborations between artists and technologists in designing and realising sustainable and ethical wearable technologies are presented.

Findings: An initial set of themes emerging from detailed analysis of WEAR Sustain network project updates are outlined highlighting the importance of cross-disciplinary hubs, mentors, and networks. A survey of wearable and eTextile stakeholders highlights the challenges faced in ethical manufacturing and production of wearable and eTextile products which blur the boundaries between digital and physical.

Value: This paper offers the reader insight into challenges and opportunities in the emergent Creative Economy sector of wearables and eTextiles which have the potential to transform the fashion industry. By reporting on case studies of recent near-to-market projects this paper grounds concerns of ethics and sustainability in wearable and eTextile design and production in real-word experience.

Paper produced in the frame of WEAR SUSTAIN. Presented at GFC 2018.