Campus Units

Apparel, Events and Hospitality Management

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Version

Accepted Manuscript

Publication Date


Journal or Book Title

Sustainability in the Textile and Apparel Industries: Sustainable Textiles, Clothing Design and Repurposing. Subramanian Senthilkannan Muthu, Miguel Angel Gardetti (editors)


Chapter 9

First Page


Last Page





The fashion industry has innumerable damaging impacts to the environment (Zaffalon, Text World 16:34, 2010). Presently, the vast majority of all textile-based products, including clothing and home good fashions, end up in landfills (Kozlowski et al. J Clean Prod 183:197-207, 2018). Consumers often purchase new clothing because the style is outdated rather than because of lack of functionality. In other words, what consumers discard can still be functional and valuable in another form. The current phenomenon of fast fashion and increased turnover of merchandise has led to an abundant quantity of functional production-level textile waste and secondhand clothing (Fletcher, Sustainable fashion and textiles design journeys. Earthscan, London, 2008). It has been suggested that the greatest opportunity for reclaimed fashion goods is to repurpose them into new products (Hawley, Recycling in textiles. Woodhead Publishing Limited, Cambridge, 2006a; Hawley, Cloth Text Res J 24: 262, 2006b). Design efforts that employ reuse, repurposing, or upcycling techniques could assist in assigning renewed value from unwanted yet still functional, discarded clothing.

In this chapter, the term “repurposing” is used to describe the process that utilizes discarded textiles to create new fashion (textile-based) products. Textile “recycling,” described by Lewis et al. (Int J Fash Des Technol Educ 10:353-362, 2017), is the process of returning a textile product back into its original fiber form and is not covered in this chapter.

Repurposing researchers (Irick, Examination of the design process of repurposed apparel and accessories: An application of diffusion of innovations theory. Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, 2013); (Irick & Eike, Teaching the repurposing mindset: The introduction of a repurposing project into an advanced apparel construction course. International Federation for Home Economics Conference. Sligo, 2017) have identified four levels of repurposing: (1) re-style to repurpose, (2) subtractive repurposing, (3) additive repurposing, and (4) intentional patternmaking to repurpose. This chapter provides analysis of the four repurposing levels through case study application to detail the creative design process employed by select designers for the purpose of repeatability and advancing research connected to repurposing. Case studies walk the reader through research and discovery, sampling of techniques, descriptions of full-scale design, and reflection to share learned experiences alongside detailed images of completed repurposed fashion designs. The chapter concludes with a cross-case analysis of all repurposed designs and suggests future directions to advance “repurposing” endeavors for industry and/or academic design scholars.


This accepted book chapter is published as Eike R., McKinney E., Zhang L., Sanders E. (2020) Repurposing Design Process. In: Muthu S., Gardetti M. (eds) Sustainability in the Textile and Apparel Industries. Sustainable Textiles: Production, Processing, Manufacturing & Chemistry. Springer, Cham. doi:/10.1007/978-3-030-37929-2_9. Posted with permission.

Copyright Owner

Springer Nature Switzerland AG



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Available for download on Thursday, April 07, 2022

Published Version