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The challenges to circular economy in the Indian apparel industry: a qualitative study

Ahmed Ashraf Zaidi (Amity School of Fashion Technology, Amity University, Noida, India)
Rahul Chandra (Fashion Management Studies, National Institute of Fashion Technology – Kangra Campus, Kangra, India)

Research Journal of Textile and Apparel

ISSN: 1560-6074

Article publication date: 14 February 2024




In recent years, researchers and practitioners have paid a great deal of attention to the circular economy (CE) due to its potential social and environmental benefits. However, limited attention has been devoted in the literature to studying the barriers to CE implementation in the apparel retail industry in emerging and developing nations besides China. Consequently, the purpose of this paper is to analyse the barriers to implementing CE in the Indian garment retail market.


This exploratory study uses a comprehensive literature analysis to identify the micro-level impediments to CE adoption in India's garment retail industry. The study aims to identify these barriers using a Delphi process, consisting of three stages. The first stage involves literature reviews and expert opinions, while the second and third stages involve survey methods with 14 industry professionals and academics. The use of the two primary data sources allows for triangulation of the data, which improves the validity of the findings and enables broader conclusions to be drawn from the results.


This study indicates that the top three challenges to implementing CE principles in the Indian apparel retail industry are “standards and regulation barriers” (84%), “strategic barriers” (82%) and “supply chain management and technology barriers” (79%). Strategies for overcoming these obstacles include gaining top management support, coordinating supply chain components, training and employee motivation.

Research limitations/implications

This study considers only Indian apparel retail industry, and the practical implications could potentially limit the study to emerging Asian economies.


To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this is the first research of its type to explore CE obstacles at the organizational level in the Indian garment retail business. Thus, it contributes to a greater understanding of the topic and enables practitioners to develop effective policies and business strategies for CE and sustainability.



Zaidi, A.A. and Chandra, R. (2024), "The challenges to circular economy in the Indian apparel industry: a qualitative study", Research Journal of Textile and Apparel, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.



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