The Fashion System’s Environmental Impact: Theorizing the Market’s Institutional Actors, Actions, Logics, and Norms

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Elena Karpova, Putman & Hayes Distinguished Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
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Abstract: Drawing on institutional theory, we examined New York Times readers’ views on fashion’s environmental impact by analyzing and interpreting comments posted in response to a sustainability and fashion-focused opinion article. Based on our interpretations, we developed a model to think through new opportunities in the mechanics of the organizational field of fashion. Collectively, readers identified multiple actors responsible for fashion market’s environmental footprint: consumers, industry, and governing institutions. Further, readers offered various approaches for addressing the fashion environmental footprint—from conscious consumption practices to industry shifts and governmental regulations. We discovered two fashion logics—the logic of dress codes and the logic of planned obsolescence—that extend our understanding of the fashion system. The two fashion logics operate within the larger, overriding logic of capitalism that defines the behaviors of and relationships between the actors in the fashion marketplace. Recognizing societal norms, or institutional logics, that serve as barriers to a sustainable future of the fashion market has profound implications for realizing this future. We demonstrate how the fashion logics are being challenged for their moral legitimacy as the logics’ materialistic values are at odds with sustainability values and centering environmental justice.

Additional Information

Fashion Theory, 26(6)
Language: English
Date: 2022
institutional theory, fashion logics, sustainability, capitalism, dress codes, planned obsolescence, fashion environmental impact

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