Consumer behaviour towards sustainability in fashion

Crommentuijn-Marsh, Philippa; Eckert, Claudia and Potter, Stephen (2010). Consumer behaviour towards sustainability in fashion. In: KEER2010: Iinternational Conference on Kansei Engineering and Emotion Research 2010, 2-4 Mar 2010, Paris, France.


The consumption of fashion has grown in recent years as prices of clothing have fallen leading to “cheap chic”, clothes that are worn a few times then discarded. This has led to various ethical and environmental concerns within the framework of sustainability. One response to these issues was Considerate Design which integrated these concerns into the design process. An exploratory study was conducted to examine consumer attitudes towards sustainability within the context of fashion including the Considerate Design concept. It was revealed that whilst consumers were concerned about the environment, there was a very low awareness of environmental issues and attitudes did not translate into action with very few buying ethical/green fashion. It was also apparent that consumers were inconsistent, acting differently to what their stated attitudes were. There was inconsistency in the behaviour of many participants, that whilst they wished to behave in a certain manner, circumstances forced them to behave otherwise. Emotionally, buying and wearing clothes was a very complex issue for people with certain items being much-loved, either as items cherished for many years or as recent impulse buys. Self-image was a primary concern for some. For others the opinions of their peer group influenced what clothes they wore. When shopping for clothes many factors were important to participants with sustainability the last on the list. It is evident that when designing for sustainability, the emotional needs and wants of customers must be taken into consideration.

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