Performing Sustainability in Fast Fashion Retailing

University essay from Lunds universitet/Institutionen för service management och tjänstevetenskap

Abstract: This paper stems from understanding how fast fashion retailers market their sustainability and how the retail space drives different forms of sustainable performances and consumption. Departing from a practice-based approach and practice theory, the study gives insights on how retailers actions in the production chain are translated in-store and online for consumers sense-making, performances and consumption practices. The study indicated that, fast fashion retailers are putting in efforts in becoming sustainable, where sustainability is viewed beyond material dominated discourses and put into perspective as integrated in processes right from material production, design process, through to retail space. Though certain material combinations and lack of control due to complexities and knowledge on certain parts of the production chain might sabotage the retailers sustainability work, sustainability in fast fashion extends beyond ethical, labor issues and environmental friendliness of materials. Fast fashion retailers take active roles in action, where stages of retailers processes have to consider sustainability in various phases. Processes ranging from material type, material composition, design, style, care, fit, store display, type of labels and tags, communications on tags, positions of tags on the product and even be mindful of practices that are promoted within the retail space. Through the lens of practices theory, sustainability signage as presented in-store has the tendency to be ignored by consumers due to the understanding that, practices that are encouraged by the retailers may devoid the consumers of sensemaking in-store in relation to the sustainable materials. Sustainable practices in the retail space require overly tactile ways of doing. This also embodies the use of technical jargons in representations that may not resonate with the consumer. Hence the fast fashion consumers’ sense-making of sustainable concepts in the retail space is critically challenged in ways that do not encourage the consumer to seek meanings in sustainable products.

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