Dr Emma Rigby

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About me

Dr Emma Rigby is a designer, researcher and educator in fashion and sustainability, and leads the fashion subject area in the School of Arts, UWE. For her, fashion is a series of social relationships to explore connections between aesthetics, gender, materials and the environment.

Emma has written peer-reviewed articles for Fashion Practice on garment quality, longevity and sustainability and Utopian Studies on circularity and the Anthropocene. Her work in clothing care and the environment has featured in influential fashion texts including: Fashion and Sustainability: Design for Change by Kate Fletcher and Lynda Grose, Practical Guide to Sustainable Fashion by Alison Gwilt and Sustainable Fashion Handbook by Sandy Black, as well in media outlets including: BBC Radio 4, Guardian, Vogue Business China and Metro.

In 2016, Emma completed a PhD at the Centre for Sustainable Fashion, London College of Fashion, funded by an Artscom Progressive Studentship Award. This doctoral research used clothes laundry as a medium to examine how fashion design, consumption and sustainability are tied into social practices. Her innovative practice-led methods developed in to a chapter for Opening Up The Wardrobe: A Methods Book Edited by Kate Fletcher and Ingun Klepp (2017).

Emma has a broad and varied experience of research-led teaching and curriculum design spanning across undergraduate and postgraduate levels. Across the last decade, she has held academic posts from Lecturer, Senior Lecturer to Course Leader and has been a Postdoctoral Research Fellow, at institutions including London College of Fashion, Cardiff Metropolitan University, and Buckinghamshire New University. Her expertise has reached an international audience through invited lectures at institutions including: Muthesius University Kiel (Germany), and Kolding School of Art and Design (Denmark).

In parallel to her scholarship, Emma co-founded Here Today Here Tomorrow: a London based shop, and fair trade accessories and knitwear brand, stocked by UK and European fashion boutiques. Her wider industry experience includes working in design teams for fashion companies in London and Melbourne. Emma is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and Member of the Union of Concerned Researchers in Fashion.

Area of expertise

Emma has an established body of work on laundry practices and the environmental impacts of clothing use. A second area of research takes a wider perspective on garment quality, use and lifecycles within the context of sustainability and design. An emerging area of research, looks at the ways in which motherhood reorientates practices of clothing use and the associated feminisation of sustainability.

Emma has presented across these topics and hosted workshops at over 15 national and international conferences, seminars and exhibitions, including Product Lifetimes and the Environment (2023), Making Futures (2019), Global Fashion Conference (2018) and Circular Transitions (2016). Her research has also reached a wider audience via public and industry facing exhibitions including The Laundry Pile which she co-curated for London Design Festival, Lila Launderette (2017); Festival of Nature, Arnolfini, Bristol (2018) and Temporary Contemporary, Huddersfield (2019).


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