Defence of doctoral thesis in the field of design, MA Essi Karell

The title of the thesis is Closing the Loop through Clothing Design: Wishful Thinking or Achievable Practice?
Blue fabric scraps and yarn against blue background.

MA Essi Karell will defend the thesis "Closing the Loop through Clothing Design: Wishful Thinking or Achievable Practice?" on 3 September 2021 at 12:00 in Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture, Department of Design.

Opponent: Prof. Conny Bakker, Delft University of Technology
Supervisor: Prof. Kirsi Niinimäki, Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture, Department of Design

The public defense will be organized via remote technology. Follow defence:
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Thesis available for public display at:

Doctoral theses in the School of Arts, Design and Architecture:

Press release:


Circular economy and textile recycling are hot topics both in sustainable fashion research as well as in public discussion. Today, however, most of the clothes are not designed recyclability in mind. This dissertation investigated an emerging phenomenon – the pursuit of advancing closed-loop textile recycling. The aim was to find out what this pursuit would mean from the perspective of clothing design, and how do current clothing design practices appear in terms of this endeavour.

The findings indicated that moving towards a circular economy requires rethinking how clothes are designed. The development of novel textile sorting and recycling technologies plays a significant role here, but many related challenges remain unsolved because many of such technologies are still in their infancy and their limitations and requirements for textile products keep changing. If closed-loop textile recycling is yet to be pursued clothing designers should consider the possibilities and challenges of these technologies. This implies that in practice designers are likely to face various limitations in terms of materials, product aesthetics and functionality. The situation will challenge clothing designers to continuously update their knowledge base, although their working reality is framed by multiple issues. Considering every aspect of a garment from a sustainability, let alone a circularity perspective, is difficult. It seems clothing designers approach sustainability mainly through sustainable material choices and long-lasting design, whereas the design for recycling approach seems much harder to implement in design practice.

The dissertation has covered major concerns that hinder closed-loop textile recycling in the clothing sector. It underlines the lack of knowledge, transparency and resources, which are yet required to design for closed-loop textile recycling. The research may benefit fashion companies, sorting and recycling actors, as well as education by providing new perspective to circular economy related discussion in the clothing sector.

Contact information of doctoral candidate:


[email protected]



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