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Fashioning sustainability – What does “sustainable” mean for consumer product brands? 
Daniela Guerreiro (ISCSP- University of Lisbon)
Heike Derwanz (Academy of Fine Arts Vienna)
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Main Site Tower (MST), 02/009
Thursday 28 July, -
Time zone: Europe/London

Short Abstract:

This panel reflects on the concepts of sustainability used by ethical, slow, green or eco brands producing consumer goods. What do they mean by choices, practices and sustainable production? Are they transforming industries like fashion into a more environmentally and socially sustainable industry?

Long Abstract:

Ethical, fair, green, eco, slow or sustainable –sustainable brands describe their take on sustainable production differently.

Whether it concerns the entire production process (from the choice of raw materials to the adoption of production practices), circular design or even cradle-to-cradle approach. They have been also criticized for using the concept of sustainability ambiguously (Ehrenfeld 2015; Evans and Peirson-Smith 2018), which has led to consumers’ misunderstanding (Thomas 2008) and a distrust towards their statements.

More recently, Guerreiro (2021) found that despite similar conceptions of sustainability, fashion brands in her analysis of Portuguese online representations had diverse concerns and practices. So, beyond the concept what is considered sustainable for some is not sustainable for others.

As most studies in the area of fashionable consumer goods concentrate on consumption (Becker-Leifhold and Heuer 2018; Middlemiss 2018), they mostly build on an understanding that consumers can choose between different alternative products and act in a circular way. But what is the foundation layed by the industry? This panel seeks to reflect and question the way in which sustainable brands have used the concept of sustainability, as well as what meanings they attribute to it. What kind of sustainability do they claim? Are there brands more committed to sustainability than others? Are they looking for sustainability at an environmental level or at an economic level? And is it possible for both to coexist?

We welcome empirical as well as theoretical reflections on these issues.

Accepted papers:

Session 1 Thursday 28 July, 2022, -