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Faculty Distinguished Lecture: Our Clothes, Our Industry, Our Planet

Dr. Diane Ellis, professor of fashion merchandising and design, delivered the 58th faculty distinguished lecture on Monday, Oct. 7 in Jones Auditorium at 7pm.


Her unusual focus invited her audience to consider the ecological results of their fashion choices. Filled with stunning statistics and striking visual images, this presentation called out the fast fashion industry for promoting disposable clothes without regard to the effects on air and water quality and landfills.


Ellis explained that garments can now appear in less than a month from initial design to product on the store shelves. But these garments are typically worn very few times before being discarded—half of all clothes are disposed of within one year, Ellis reported. Only 10% of clothing is resold or recycled, she said; the rest ends up in landfills.


What can students do? Remembering that one of her own faculty members told her that “every purchase is a vote,” Dr. Ellis exhorted her audience to choose fewer but better quality articles of clothing, made from fabrics with less harmful environmental impact—linen rather than cotton, for example, or lyocell (made from wood pulp) rather than nylon, made from petrochemicals. One interesting development she detailed is “smart fashion” or garments with built-in technology to monitor health, counteract odor and improve athletic performance. In the future, this type of self-monitoring clothing could replace fitbits: something to look forward to while striving to decrease fashion waste and pollution.


By Dr. Walton, Faculty Adviser, and Lilly R. Wood, A&E Editor

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