3 IssuesDesigners and manufacturers need to consider the social, moral, cultural and environmental issues arising from the production of their textile items.Where will I get it made? Labour costs are cheaper in Asia.Who will wear this item? What will they wear it for?What material shall I use? Will my customers object to fur?How will your textile product affect and impact on society as a whole?
5 A wedding dress will often only be worn once. Why do we wear clothes?Decoration or adornmentDecorative clothes are often worn for special occasions like weddings or ceremonies.These garments are made from expensive, rich fabrics.While elaborate clothes may be worn for a one-off occasion, religious garments may be worn again and again and passed down through generations.A wedding dress will often only be worn once.
6 Why do we wear clothes? Dressing for the elements Clothes were first used to keep us warm and dry. Fur and leather were the main materials used to protect the human body from the elements.There are a number of new and alternative fabrics that are now suitable to protect us.Whether it be windproof, waterproof or UV protective, there is a garment to suit all weather.
7 FashionWe buy new items of clothing every year, not just because our old clothes have worn out, but because we want to wear the latest styles. Clothes are often thrown away simply because they are no longer fashionable.High street shops often copy designers’ collections, which are released every season, producing imitation items at a fraction of the price. Items need to get from designers to shops as quickly as possible to satisfy consumer need.
8 FashionMany fashion garments have a short product life cycle as trends change rapidly. The rapid production and turnover of goods fuels the textile industry, but also puts pressure on workers to produce goods as quickly as possible, uses large quantities of material and produces considerable amounts of waste.You may wish to highlight examples in the picture of garments that are no longer fashionable, or ask students how long they anticipate some of the trends illustrated (e.g. baggy trousers) lasting.
9 Cultural issuesAs a designer you must consider different cultures if you are planning to mass produce your item.Generally most cultures cover up in public places but there are exceptions to the rule.Some cultures and religions consider it unacceptable and sometimes offensive to show certain parts of the body in public.
10 Moral issuesDo we always know where our clothes are made or who makes them?Moral issues concern the people who are producing garments and textile items.We sometimes hear of major companies who exploit workers.People, often children, in poorer countries work long hours in poor conditions and get very little pay.The Ethical Trading Initiative has been set up to promote good practice.
11 Different marketsThis activity is designed to stimulate discussion about what needs the different markets might have, and does not mark.
12 Environmental issuesAs a nation, we are increasingly concerned about the environment. Textile production can contribute to environmental damage in a number of ways.Crops can use up large quantities of land. Pesticides used to protect the crops may harm wildlife.Dyeing and finishing fabrics uses large amounts of water which contains chemicals and can pollute the environment.Manufacturing textile goods uses energy and creates waste products. Transporting materials to factories and then from factories to shops also uses fuel.Washing textile items uses large quantities of water and detergent, and uses energy.Many textile items are thrown away as waste.
13 Man-made fabricsProducing man-made fibres can cause pollution and contribute towards environmental damage.Rayon is made from wood pulp which is a sustainable resource. However, hazardous chemicals like sulphuric acid and caustic soda are used to treat the pulp, and a lot of the timber used is wasted.Polyester and nylon are man-made fabrics, and a lot of energy is required to produce them. They are made from oil which is a non-renewable resource and they are not biodegradable.
14 The cotton used to manufacture this T-shirt has been bleached white. Natural fabricsThe production of natural fibres can also be harmful to the environment:Growing cotton requires a large amount of land that could otherwise be used for food production.Cotton is grown using pesticides which then remain in the fabric. Bleaches and dyes are used, as cotton is produced in off-white. The chlorine compounds used in bleaching are highly toxic.The cotton used to manufacture this T-shirt has been bleached white.In the production of wool, sheep and farm workers are exposed to chemicals in the dips. Again bleaches and dyes are used. Gallons of water are used when dyeing fabrics. Unfixed dye can be washed out of garments and into rivers and sewers.
15 Environmental fibresEco-friendly textile products are made using materials which will not harm the environment. Organic fibres and products from sustainable resources are now available.Organic fibres, which can be used to produce yarns and fabrics, are produced without using pesticides or fertilizers.Organic wool is produced from organically reared sheep, and processed without the use of harmful chemicals.Genetically modified cotton crops are now being grown in China, India and the US. These crops are resistant to certain pests, and have been designed to minimize the use of damaging pesticides. However, the effects of GM crops are not yet fully known.- information about organic cotton.- information about organic wool.
16 Industrial processesEven through a garment may seem environmentally friendly, we must consider the process that it has gone through.Where is the factory and how do the workers get there?How did the fabric get to the factory and how are the garments being transported to the fashion outlets?Consider the energy needed to light, heat and run the machinery.How much waste is produced and how is it disposed of?
18 Cleaning processesAs a designer, you need to consider how the consumer is going to look after the textile product.How is the product washed/dry-cleaned?The colour of the product will determine the temperature that it is washed at.A white item will require hotter temperatures than a coloured item.Does the product require ironing? This is another energy source.Dry-cleaning puts a garment through a number of chemical processes.The label inside an item of clothing will tell you how it should be washed.
19 RecyclingThis logo shows when a garment or product has been recycled. There are three main types of recycling.Primary – second hand clothing is an example of when a product can be used again.Secondary – a product is melted, ground, torn/shredded, etc., and reused. This is also known as physical recycling.Tertiary – this process uses chemicals. Plastic (PET) bottles are recycled, made into fibres and re-spun into polyester.Clothing banks are used to collect used garments that can then be given to charity or sold to businesses who sell the goods in developing countries.Photo courtesy of BCR. For more information about recycling textiles, exporting wearable clothing and school collections see
20 Environmental issuesIt is now possible to recycle plastic bottles and make them into fleece. The bottles are made into small pellets and these are made into fibres which are then re-spun and made into fleece fabric. It takes 25 two litre plastic bottles to make one adult fleece jacket.Finishing, dyeing and printing processes have been refined to use less toxic products.Image courtesy of Musto (
22 Think about it Look at these clothing labels. What issues might arise from the manufacture, cleaning and disposal of these items?Students should note the fibres each item is made from, and the environmental consequences producing these fibres has – for example, polyester being made from oil and cotton crops using large amounts of land. They should also notice where each item has been made, and consider the costs and environmental impact of transporting the items to the UK.