Material assets


Fashion’s material form – fibre, fabric, clothing – reproduce connections, or the lack of them, to place. Material assets are tell-tales of system priorities: are textile fibres and fabric commodities of capital exchange or opportunities for community and ecosystem exchange?

In Macclesfield, place was poorly represented in the physical fashion assets: no regional provenance was evident, there were few locally produced pieces, product diversity was restricted and discard rates were high both to charity shops and the household recycling centre:

  • Clothing is abundantly available to buy. The range of styles and fibre types of clothing is limited.
  • The price point of new items is low.
  • The available pieces comprise new and second-hand materials, chiefly cotton, polyester or a blend of the two. More variety of materials is available in fabric shops.
  • Local clothing was difficult for residents to locate in their own wardrobes, examples included a pair of jeans made in Wales, an African print top made in Manchester and a local team’s football shirt.
  • The surrounding landscape is largely given over to sheep farming. Yet there is limited wool for sale or present in residents’ wardrobes (from a very small study between 0.5 and 8% of items in residents’ wardrobe made from wool).
  • New items for sale in the town are made overseas, with only a small number of exceptions.
  • Historically, Macclesfield was a button-making, silk spinning and weaving town. While there is sizeable capacity for textile printing and garment manufacturing in the town, its products are not available to buy locally.
  • In 2017, one fifth of the total number of stores stocking clothing in the town are charity shops re-selling donated items.
  • Of the remaining four fifths of stores that sell clothing, roughly half are chains and half independent.
  • There is a high level of discard of clothing at the town’s charity shops and the household recycling centre.