Style Consumption and Sustainable Fashion

By Shipra Gupta, College of Business and Management, University of Illinois Springfield

Given my prior training and education in fashion industry, one of my research interests focuses on examining issues of sustainability in the fashion industry which is known to encourage a great deal of socially irresponsible behavior. Especially in the United States with its “throw-away” mentality, tons of clothing are discarded every day (Beard 2008; Fletcher 2008; McRobbie 1997; Morgan and Birtwistle 2009). The fashion industry, by creating a culture of over-consumption, also fosters ethically unacceptable increases in pollution, waste, environmental degradation, as well as a deterioration in social and economic well-being. Unless decisive and pragmatic changes are made, there is a severe threat to global environmental stability and the long-term quality of life. Thus, it is critical to examine what can be done to make a transition to consumption patterns that are sustainable.

Photo by Alyssa Strohmann on Unsplash

My research developed ‘style orientation’ scale, a potential solution that can change long-term consumer and societal behavior, ultimately enhancing long term quality of life. Specific to this research, I have collected two large data sets (n=6,500 and n=4,500) from five countries – the US, the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, and Sweden, to understand whether promoting a style orientation among consumers (rather than a fashion orientation) will lead to more sustainable apparel consumption. Results suggest that promoting style can be a potential solution to attain slow fashion and, thus, improve sustainable apparel consumption. Further the role of hedonism and materialism in influencing sustainable practices in the industry was examined. Based on the findings, my research emphasizes the need for the collective effort of different actors, especially the role of government, in creating a more sustainable fashion system. 

Publication: Gupta, S., Gwozdz, W., & Gentry, J. (2019). The role of style versus fashion orientation on sustainable apparel consumption. Journal of Macromarketing39(2), 188-207.

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