Selling the Green Dream to Women: Socio-environmental Degradation and the Paradox of Feminism and Sustainability in Fashion Marketing.
Abstract: This thesis identifies a trend of fashion brands engaging in feminist and environmental issues through their business strategy in order to sell products to women. More specifically, it explores the relationship between gender and environmentalism in marketing campaigns within the fashion industry. Through case study research, analysis of fashion advertisement videos and semi-structured interviews with female identifying consumers, the findings show that despite scepticism from consumers, fashion brands are successful in delivering messages about sustainability and environmentalism to their consumers, partly through embodying a progressive and empowering brand image. This success is problematised through contextualising fashion marketing within a world-system analysis, which reveals that the environmentalist and feminist claims made by fashion brands do not correspond to the material reality of the socio-environmental degradation caused by the fashion industry in the global South. With the help of feminist theory as well as theories from human ecology and political economy, I argue that consumerism as it looks now is not compatible with environmental sustainability. Therefore, individualist consumption oriented solutions proposed by fashion brands serve as a distraction from the need for collective action and structural change, while simultaneously enabling the status quo of over-production and over-consumption to prevail.
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