design tool for assessing the environmental sustainability of knitted apparel products in new zealand

mitali nautiyal

Mitali Nautiyal2ndYear PhD candidate (2019-2022)School of Art & Design, Auckland University of Technology


Several studies have shown the harmful impact of textiles and apparel products on our environment and there is a growing concern for the sustainability of the fashion industry. Assessing sustainability is crucial in order to facilitate decision-making and to assess existing approaches, products and technologies. The main goal of this research is to develop a sustainability assessment tool that can be used by designers and manufacturers to understand the environmental impact of apparel products. Using a life cycle assessment (LCA), based on ISO 14040/44, this study will assess the environmental impact of a selection of textile materials and blends, and grade the environmental factors.


Analysing an end product, rather than just a textile, will be more meaningful for the different stakeholders. Therefore, this study will look at the complete life cycle of a woman’s knitted jumper made using diverse yarn types from different geographical contexts. The plan is to assess six jumpers, which will include natural, synthetic and blended yarns. By calculating the environmental impact of these textile materials and blends throughout their life cycle from ‘cradle to grave’, this study will also explore and compare the environmental consequences of different supply chains including local manufacturing and international products. This analysis will also include an evaluation of different knitwear manufacturing techniques and their environmental impacts.


This design tool, developed using a specific product range (knitted apparel), will provide a useful framework that could be used for calculating environmental impacts for a wider range of apparel products. By giving a numerical value to each material and process, this tool could help substantiate sustainability claims made by brands and retailers. This research has the potential to assist designers and manufacturers to apply life cycle thinking using sustainable strategies in their design and production processes. Consumers would be able to make better-informed choices when purchasing, using and disposing of garments. The tool also has the potential to be used by government regulatory bodies for framing policies relating to sustainability within the apparel industry.


Mitali is having a good academic background and holding AUT’s Doctoral Scholarship Award. She is pursuing her PhD at AUT’s School of Art and Design. Her study focusses on the textile industry and its impact on the environment and she seeks to develop a design tool that could be easily used to assess the environmental impact of apparel products.


Mitali attained her Master’s degree in Textile Design and Development and her Master of Philosophy in Clothing and Textiles in India. Prior to her recent move to Auckland, she worked in Design and Product Development roles for large textile and apparel export businesses in India. At AUT, Mitali has taken charge of the Weaving Lab, and has been developing woven textiles using the TC2 digital weaving loom.