Fast Fashion is like white sugar
A design-management approach to uncovering and addressing the driving forces of Fast Fashion and barriers to sustainable fashion consumption
“Fast Fashion is like white sugar”: It is rapidly consumed, does not satisfy for long, so the urge for more intensifies. According to official definition Fast Fashion are „clothes that are made and sold cheaply, so that people can buy new clothes often“ (Fast Fashion, n.d.). Consequently, nowadays, we consume four times more clothes than we did 20 years ago while the clothes are only kept for half as long as two decades ago.
Sustainable fashion, and slow fashion as an extension thereof adding the consumption aspect into the definition, has emerged as a better alternative emphasizing high quality, durability, and mindful consumption. Nevertheless, people keep buying Fast Fashion, despite having favorable attitudes towards sustainable fashion. In fact, of people expressing ethical concerns, only 30% turn these concerns into actual purchase intentions, and only 3% end up making the purchase (Cowe and Williams, 2000). This is also known as the attitude-behavior gap.
The intervention that emerged is the FairTracker: A three-part intervention that aims to encourage more sustainable consumption by changing people’s price perceptions and their sense of agency regarding their environmental impact. Furthermore, the goal was to generally highlight the benefits of sustainable fashion while minimizing the perceived risks. The concept consists of an app, an awareness campaign as well as a store concept.
People seek to maximize benefits and minimize risks; therefore, they often prioritize other criteria than sustainability in their purchase decisions because sustainable fashion is considered to be a tradeoff. There are various barriers to sustainable fashion like high prices, aesthetics, social norms, limited availability and accessibility, skepticism, lack of awareness and knowledge, and a missing sense of agency. Among the most pertinent ones are the price and the lack of agency people experience, which relate to the belief of not making a positive environmental impact through one’s actions. The intervention mainly addressed these latter two.
Fairtracker targets people with favorable attitudes towards sustainable fashion that lack better understanding and knowledge of the value sustainable fashion provides and therefore experience barriers to sustainable fashion consumption.
Depth: For the future, I would try to frame the problem area
even narrower, so I could even more focus on the depth over the width of the problem.
Focus: I learned that it’s impossible to tackle all issues in one intervention
Therefore, it is better to focus on the key barriers and try to target those as profound as possible.
Joint effort: An intervention is only a starting point and one course of
action out of many possibilities. Ultimately, various stakeholders and solutions have to come together to bring about large-scale change.
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