What Does Sustainability Mean? : A Study of Young Consumers’ Associations With, and Understanding of the Term Sustainability, Within the Fashion Industry
Abstract: Purpose – The purpose of this study is to investigate how young consumers understand sustainability in the fashion industry: how they define it and if they consider both environmental and social sustainability. Design/methodology/approach – A qualitative method was used. The 14 semi- structured video-call interviews were carried out with interviewees between the ages of 20 and 30 years old, chosen based on their age and accessibility to the researchers. Further, all the interviewees live in Sweden. Findings – The collected data show that young consumers have a fairly broad understanding of sustainability in the fashion industry, even if parts of that understanding seem to be subconscious. All the interviewees are aware of the fashion industry’s negative impact on global sustainability, and show awareness of transparency and Greenwashing issues. Many also agree that aspects of high quality, timeless design and second-hand clothing are crucial for sustainability in the fashion industry. All interviewees connect sustainability in the fashion industry to environmental sustainability first and foremost, while issues with social sustainability come second. The interviewees were generally more concerned with environmental issues like emissions and materials. However, all but one showed awareness of the social implications as well, addressing social issues like working conditions. Originality/value – The thesis is a response to the lack of research on young consumer’s understanding and perceptions of sustainability within the fashion industry. It’s an interesting subject, since the fashion industry has many sustainability issues, and young consumers have a great spending power, and also care a lot about sustainability. The research is a mean for future research regarding young consumers and the fashion industry and will provide further understanding towards the subject.
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