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How many clothes are enough? The right to adequate clothing

   Department of Materials

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  Dr C Henninger  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Circular economy (CE) and social justice are 21st century buzzwords. CE is one of the solutions to fast fashion. The idea behind fast fashion is to provide everyone in society access to garments, by providing these at low prices, thus overcoming stigma and a class society. Since its emergence, it has been heavily contested and been described as unsustainable (Henninger et al., 2021). Post-consumer waste is a key issue, which has further implications for social justice or the lack thereof.

             Within the CE disruptive business models (e.g., renting, swapping) emerged, which allow consumers to either access garments (renting) or redistribute ownership (swapping). These models could be a potential solution to overcoming social injustice. Previously, social injustice has been addressed from an industry (worker) perspective (e.g., modern slavery, lack of living wages) (Brydges and Hanlon, 2020). Yet, how can social injustice be measured and addressed through CE business models?

Focusing on a Human Rights perspective, we see a lack of research that addresses this issue through the forgotten right to adequate clothing (Graham, 2022), which links to the UN (2022) Sustainable Development Goal 1 (No Poverty).

This interdisciplinary project addresses multiple priorities that cannot be solved in isolation: 1) circularity in the fashion industry, 2) No Poverty, and 3) right to adequate clothing.

Stage 1: CE Business Models addressing Right to Adequate clothing

Mapping of CE business models and their link to the right of adequate clothing by providing Community of Practice insights. A Community of Practice is a consortium of different stakeholder involved, here, within the fashion industry to gain a holistic understanding on how to address the right to clothing. This will include understanding the quality of garments and the materials used.

Stage 2: Human Rights addressing Right to Adequate clothing

Based on Stage 1, Stage 2 works towards delimiting the content of the forgotten right to adequate clothing in such a way that is informed by – and informs – the CE of clothing. Thus, the right to clothing will be positioned to respond to –and informed by- pressing challenges which relate to clothing.

 Stage 3: CE and Social Sustainability Indicators

The focus is on measuring the level of circularity of the different business models identified in Stage 1, but with special emphasis on the materials used and on the effects of the garments’ quality. Further, we will measure how these business models contribute (positively/negatively) to the sector’s social sustainability. 

Admissions qualifications / requirements:

  • A minimum 2.1 honours degree, preferably first class;
  • Interest in (preferable all three, but a minimum of one)
  • Social Sustainability and/or sustainability marketing
  • Circular Economy
  • Law (Human Rights)

At the University of Manchester, we pride ourselves on our commitment to fairness, inclusion and respect in everything we do. We welcome applications from people of all backgrounds and identities and encourage you to bring your whole self to work and study. We will ensure that your application is given full consideration without regard to your race, religion, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, nationality, disability, age, marital or pregnancy status, or socioeconomic background. All PhD places will be awarded on the basis of merit.

To apply please follow the link below:

Funding Notes

This project is available to UK Students only.
Standard UKRI fees and stipend (£16,062)
Start date: January 2023


Brydges, T. &, Hanlon, M. (2020). Garment worker rights and the fashion industry’s response to COVID-19, Dialogues in Human Geography, 10(2): 195-198
Henninger, C.E., Brydges, T., Iran, S. & Vladimirova, K. (2021) Collaborative fashion consumption – a synthesis and future research agenda, Journal of Cleaner Production, 319, 128648
Graham, L.D., 2022. The Right to Clothing and Personal Protective Equipment in the Context of COVID-19. The International Journal of Human Rights 26, 30–49.
UN (2022) The 17 Goals, UN (online):, 13/05/2022
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