Fostering sustainable practices: The case of micro and small designer fashion enterprises

Black, Sandy; Burcikova, Mila; Williams, Dilys; Rocamora, Agnès; Lyon, Fergus; Werner, Andrea; Vickers, Ian; Elf, Patrick; Eckert, Claudia and Crommentuijn-Marsh, Philippa (2023). Fostering sustainable practices: The case of micro and small designer fashion enterprises. In: Charter, Martin; Pan, Bernice and Black, Sandy eds. Accelerating Sustainability in Fashion, Clothing and Textiles. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, pp. 128–140.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003272878-12

Abstract

In Chapter 9, Black et al. highlight that the UK designer fashion sector is largely made up of micro and small enterprises (MSEs) and represents a significant part of the UK’s creative industries, widely recognised for its fashion influence beyond the UK. In addition to its cultural and economic distinction, the sector is acknowledged globally for its pioneering sustainability-led practices. This chapter presents findings from the Rethinking Fashion Design Entrepreneurship: Fostering Sustainable Practices project, working with 48 innovative fashion MSEs in the UK. With their strongsense of values and purpose, contributing to community alongside maintaining viability, such MSEs provide best-practice examples of innovation to foster sustainability in fashion. More are gaining the internationally recognised B Corp certification, demonstrating that social justice and environmental stewardship are equally as important as financial success. Values-based fashion design entrepreneurs pursue growth organically to increase their positive social and environmental impact, and develop strong customer relationships through direct communication, transparency and engagement activities, foregrounding sufficiency. Despite the severe effects of Covid-19, the investigation revealed some fashion design entrepreneurs showing exceptional resilience. Such agile, purpose-led enterprises exemplify a redefinition of what fashion business can be, presenting viable pathways to recovery, and building towards a sustainable prosperity that transforms how fashion is done.

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