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Volume 1, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 2050-0726
  • E-ISSN: 2050-0734



The major focus of this article is to highlight the consumer’s understanding of sustainable practices in the context of fashion branding and how it relates to purchasing behaviour. My colleagues and I questioned 151 consumers through snowball surveys transmitted via social media to measure consumer receptiveness to sustainability as a marketing issue. As a result, we suggest there is potential value for both wholesale and retail companies to create sustainability standards and branding methods in order to highlight this important message; such efforts could include an industry-wide logo, trademark or rating system. While there are currently a multitude of sustainable business practices being employed, including corporate indexes, certification programmes, core value inclusion and advertising, these have not achieved a high level of visibility with the end consumer. Companies are spending millions on sustainable practices but are failing to communicate the message through industry-wide standards reflected in a simple product mark. Through this study we argue that a concerted educational campaign is needed to promote mainstream consumer awareness and adoption of sustainability standards. In addition, for the United States market, federal involvement may be necessary to help create acceptable benchmarks. The irony is that multiple studies have been done – some of which we later examine – showing that consumers may be ready to embrace branded sustainable products in the world of fashion. One question remains: are they willing to pay an additional price for something that can benefit the planet? Does the consumers’ conscience stop at their wallet? We posed these questions accordingly. The results of our study show that consumers do value products made using sustainable practices. Moreover, when asked if it made a big difference in their purchasing decisions, the answer was yes, as long as the price did not increase significantly. The conundrum was that many respondents we surveyed just did not seem to fully understand the meaning of sustainability. For that matter, there is also a great deal of confusion about the meaning of sustainability across the fashion industry: it is a complicated subject.

As a result, we recommend a threefold action plan for the fashion industry:

1. Convey and educate in an easy, transparent way what sustainability means for the consumer, clarifying the myriad of mixed meanings within the industry.

2. Consolidate and streamline industry standards and create federal benchmarks for measuring the sustainability of fashion manufacturing processes. This will prevent companies from ‘green-washing’ their products through trumped-up advertising.

3. Establish and publicize a standard sustainability logo, trademark or ranking system to provide consistent product labelling and allow consumers to choose sustainably manufactured products.


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