11 December 2013

Call for papers: "Sustainable Fashion and Textiles: Cases in Latin America"

For a special issue of the Latin American Journal of Management for Sustainable Development.

No doubt the textile industry – encompassing the production of clothing, fabrics, threads, fibres and related products – is significant to the global economy. However, from the corporate sustainability perspective (which means the phased internalisation of environmental and social responsibilities into the core business strategy to allow a company to deliver benefits to present and coming generations of shareholders, employees and other stakeholders), this industry often operates to the detriment of environmental and social factors.

The textile industry uses large quantities of water and energy (two of the most pressing issues worldwide), in addition to generating waste, effluents and pollution. Both the manufacturing and consumption of textile products are significant sources of environmental damage. As to social aspects, non-qualified jobs have been lost in regions that mostly rely on these industries. Another serious and still unresolved problem is the increasing flexibility textile industry companies need. Faced with fierce international competition, these companies find it more and more difficult to ensure job tenure. There is also the clandestine work proliferating in both developing and developed countries. Child labour continues to be a fact in this sector despite the growing trend to reverse it thanks to growing pressure from various agencies.

It is clear that the relation between fashion and consumption contrasts with sustainability objectives. Since this comparison is obvious, it is frequently ignored. When buying garments almost as an addiction, the use of resources is accelerated thus increasing environmental impact and waste generation. We feel each purchase as a new experience we have never felt before.

Even though fashion is inherent to our culture and is important for our relations, for our looks and for our identity, the mismanagement of moral and environmental issues by the sector has social and ecological costs. Fashion, in its worst form, generates personal insecurity, over-consumption and uniformity resulting from globalisation (the term McFashion was coined in allusion to the fast food restaurant chain, referring to the fact that it is possible to find the same garment in Tokyo, London, Buenos Aires or New York City).
Fashion also plays a part in serious health conditions such as bulimia, anorexia and high stress levels related to the need to continuously reformulate our identity with every new trend. Not only do fashion pressures take a toll on individuals and increase both consumption and waste disposal, but fashion trends have also mixed up sustainability issues and concepts, leading to misunderstandings.

Against this background, sustainability in these sectors has been gaining special attention over the last years. This special issue – although it is focused on case studies of companies or brands that operate in Latin America - intends to explore as many different dimensions of the issue as possible.

Suitable topics include, but are not limited to, the following:
  • Sustainability and business management in textile companies and fashion - Do global sustainability-related challenges relate to business strategies and practices that contribute to a sustainable world and, at the same time, create company value?
  • Value chain management - Does value chain management promote cutting down environmental impacts while taking account of social need?
  • Use of materials - Are the impacts related to textile fibre extraction analysed?
  • Sustainable production processes - How does raw material turning into finished fabrics and other end products impact on labour conditions, use of energy, water and other resources?
  • Sustainable fashion:
  • Is there a strong and enriching relationship between consumer and product?
  • Are garments that spark debate, that call for a deep sense of ‘meaning,’ or that require the “finishing” touch of a skilful and creative user made?
  • Are garments that inspire confidence and ability, that promote versatility, ingenuity, customisation and individual participation designed?
  • Fashion, needs, and consumption:
  • What would the conditions necessary for fashion/sustainability coexistence be?
  • What is consumption like?
  • Which is the consequence of ever-changing fashion trends?
  • Does fashion play a role that will help us both identify the causes of sustainability issues and create new expectations?
  • Use of textiles and garments - As to the design phase, what information would be necessary for the textile industry, in general, and fashion, in particular, to contribute to a reduced impact of the product use phase?
  • Textiles and fashion in the disposition phase - After the product end use, how may waste be disposed of?
  • Local development in textiles and fashion - Are ‘inclusive businesses’ a valid alternative to promote a positive social impact?
  • Textiles, innovation and design possibilities - Would a bottom-up approach in innovation processes be useful for textiles and fashion?
The above list is not exclusive; other contributions on relevant topics will also be considered. This project aims at developing a comprehensive understanding of the topic through case studies on good or bad practices.

Important Dates
Full paper submission (online): 15 September, 2014 (extended)
Revised paper submission: 15 November, 2014
Final paper acceptance: 16 January, 2015

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