(Un)sustainable fashion: the story of my wardrobe

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    Fashion in an inherently unsustainable industry as one of its core functions is to create demand for new designs, styles and products. There has been a growing body of research in the field of ethical consumerism and sustainable consumption since the 1990s. Economic rational approaches have identified a sizable segment of consumers who claim in surveys to be concerned about social and environmental issues (e.g. M. Dickson, 2005; M. A. Dickson, 2001), yet sales of “ethical” products have been disappointing on the whole and have rarely achieved anything more than a few percentage points in market share. Cognitive approaches have studied the effect of ethical attitudes, social norms and perceptions of behavioural control on intention to make sustainable fashion consumption choices (e.g. Shaw, Hogg, Wilson, Shui, & Hassan, 2006), but have struggled to explain why behavioural intention does not translate into actual behaviour. Interpretive approaches have highlighted the challenges consumers face balancing different ethical concerns (e.g. environmental, working conditions) and explored the meaning of consumption (e.g. Valor, 2007), but the findings again tend to focus on intended rather actual behaviour because of a reliance on existential-phenomenological interviews (Carrington, Neville, & Whitwell, 2010). This research seeks to address this problem by studying my actual fashion consumption choices over a decade. By telling the story of my wardrobe, I explore how ethical issues have influenced some of my clothing purchases over this period, but how I have also continued to make a number of unsustainable fashion consumption choices despite my heightened interest, awareness and behavioural intention to be a sustainable fashion consumer. And I will discuss how using storytelling and introspective methods have enabled me to gain insights into how the situational context and actual behavioural control impede the translation of behavioural intention into actual sustainable consumption behaviour. Keywords: sustainable consumption, ethical consumption, fashion, storytelling, personal introspection References Carrington, M., Neville, B., & Whitwell, G. (2010). Why Ethical Consumers Don’t Walk Their Talk: Towards a Framework for Understanding the Gap Between the Ethical Purchase Intentions and Actual Buying Behaviour of Ethically Minded Consumers. Journal of Business Ethics, 1-20. doi:10.1007/s10551-010-0501-6 Dickson, M. (2005). Identifying and profiling apparel label users. In R. Harrison, T. Newholm, & D. Shaw (Eds.), The ethical consumer (pp. 155-173). London; Thousand Oaks: SAGE. Dickson, M. A. (2001). Utility of No Sweat Labels for Apparel Consumers: Profiling Label Users and Predicting Their Purchases. The Journal of consumer affairs., 35(1), 96. Shaw, D., Hogg, G., Wilson, E., Shui, E., & Hassan, L. (2006). Fashion victim: the impact of fair trade concerns on clothing choice. Joural of Strategic Marketing, 14(4), 427-440. Valor, C. (2007). The influence of information about labour abuses on consumer choice of clothes: a grounded theory approach. Journal of marketing management., 23(7/8), 675-696.


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