Apparel industry, sustainability, re-purposing materials


This research addresses sustainability in the apparel industry from the specific perspective of repurposing materials for use in costume development. Repurposing discarded materials, also referred to as upcycling, is examined as a viable approach to waste management and evaluated for its impact on sustainability in apparel and textile production, especially in relation to costume development. Current issues in sustainability in the apparel industry that are a focus for this research include waste from production as well as post-consumer waste. The project includes the design and construction of two costume pieces based on a style of costume known as cosplay. Cosplay is a subculture of costume enthusiasts that dress up to resemble one or more characters from a fan universe. The rise of popularity in cosplay contiguous to upcycling is one reason the project combines the two concepts. Secondly, cosplay costume development can repurpose materials beyond textiles, such as plastics, glass, metal, and wood. Finally, many cosplay hobbyists may have budget constraints that can be resolved by purchasing materials to upcycle from resale stores. Resale stores are a source of materials because the maintenance of the discarded materials removes a portion of cleaning from the project. Results of the research are the established efficacy of upcycling in costume development as an approach to waste management, the determination of acceptable aesthetic quality of upcycled costumes, and general guidance for cosplay participants to follow with the intention to utilize as much repurposed or upcycled materials as individual skills allow.