Designing a Dynamic Sustainable System: 7 Strategies to Empower Fashion SMEs and Start-ups

Sejal Munjal
21 May 2021

Munjal, S. (2021). Designing a dynamic sustainable system: 7 strategies to empower fashion SMEs and start-ups. (A thesis submitted in partial fulfilment for the degree of Master of Design Enterprise at Otago Polytechnic, Dunedin, New Zealand).


The area of sustainability is enormous and challenging to be covered by one single profession- here I propose a human centered design approach of problem-solving that starts with people and ends with innovative solutions that are relevant and tailor-made for their needs and can go a long way into building a design led strategy/solution. I strongly believe design to be a revolutionary tool, designers work in many different contexts; I decided to focus this research on fashion designers. As fashion industry is known to be notoriously wasteful while promoting consumerism and being the second highest consumer of non-renewable resources in the world, it becomes imperative to know what the new generation of fashion designers perceive and understand to be sustainable in fashion and otherwise. They are the future and their Small-Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs) and Start-ups promise the power to change for a better fashion industry. SMEs and Start-ups are widely recognized as playing an important and substantial role in the economy while generating new jobs and these enterprises hold the desire to bring a change with their innovative ideas, which is what I target in this research. Fashion is a global industry, and sustainability is a global issue, I stand in a unique position as part of two entirely different countries India and New Zealand. These contrasting cultural and geographical dynamics provide a unique perspective relevant to a global market to hopefully bridge the gap of sustainability in fashion. Conception of a design led framework that can provide fair assistance to SMEs and Start-ups to build an environmentally sustainable as well as a financially sustainable enterprise which is user centric with people at the core is the intent of my research and is presented in the form of a Self-Sustainability Evaluation Toolkit (SSET) inspired by IDEO method cards. SSET assists in creating a transparent communication with all stakeholders and is a glocal product+service- non-restricted by the boundaries of nations.

Keywords: human-centred design, sustainability toolkit, United Nations SDGs, small-medium sized enterprises, multi-disciplinary design, design thinking

Sejal Munjal's supervisors were Stella Lange and Rekha Rana Shailaj.


This thesis is available under a Creative Commons licence CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Creative Commons License