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Journal cover: International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management

International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management

ISSN: 0959-0552

Online from: 1973

Subject Area: Industry and Public Sector Management

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The sustainable clothing market: an evaluation of potential strategies for UK retailers


Document Information:
Title:The sustainable clothing market: an evaluation of potential strategies for UK retailers
Author(s):Helen Goworek, (Business School, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK), Tom Fisher, (School of Art and Design, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK), Tim Cooper, (College of Art, Design and the Built Environment, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK), Sophie Woodward, (Department of Sociology, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK), Alex Hiller, (Business School, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK)
Citation:Helen Goworek, Tom Fisher, Tim Cooper, Sophie Woodward, Alex Hiller, (2012) "The sustainable clothing market: an evaluation of potential strategies for UK retailers", International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, Vol. 40 Iss: 12, pp.935 - 955
Keywords:Choice editing, Clothing retailers, Consumer behaviour, Corporate social responsibility, Ethical consumerism, Fair trade, Focus groups, Qualitative research, Retail trade, Sustainability, Sustainable clothing
Article type:Research paper
DOI:10.1108/09590551211274937 (Permanent URL)
Publisher:Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Abstract:

Purpose – This paper aims to investigate consumers' perspectives on sustainable clothing consumption and to examine ways in which this information could influence retailers' policies.

Design/methodology/approach – Qualitative research was conducted using focus groups, home tasks and workshops with 99 participants. The sample represented different groups of consumers in relation to their sustainability behaviour.

Findings – Focus group participants had a limited awareness of the sustainability impacts of clothing. Where participants displayed pro-environmental behaviour, this was not necessarily intentional, but was largely a response to other influences. The respondents' maintenance and disposal of clothes were found to be influenced mainly by existing habits and routines, which usually take precedence over awareness of sustainable practice. The research indicated that consumers could be persuaded to change their behaviour in relation to sustainability by being encouraged and enabled to reflect more on their behaviour.

Research limitations/implications – This study uses qualitative research and is limited to UK consumers. Future research in this field could incorporate quantitative methods or in-depth interviews. Academics could conduct further research and generate theories which apply to the sustainable consumption of clothing.

Social implications – The findings have implications for retailers, academics and society. Retailers can develop and implement more sustainable policies and practices in relation to clothing production and consumption. There are wider implications for society and the environment in that retailers' practices can impact greatly on the sustainability of the planet's resources.

Originality/value – This paper's originality lies in its assessment of the implications for retailers of consumers' views on the sustainable consumption of clothing.



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