Sustainable Business Models in the Fashion Industry

Charlotte Johanna Achner & Julia Blanka Spalek

Student thesis: Master thesis


Born sustainable companies are challenging the fashion industry by having sustainability at their cores and actions, yet this area is still under-researched. Thus, this thesis examines the subject of sustainable business models and how they are managed and operationalized by born sustainable SMEs in the fashion industry. Within this inductive, qualitative research, multiple case studies and archival research provided the data for the conducted thematic analysis.
After analyzing the data, it could be seen that these companies not only see their size as an advantage, but they also adapt their business models and operations to be sustainable and holistic. The prioritization of sustainability, educating customers through the introduction of different initiatives and the focus on collaborative relationships with stakeholders are essential aspects distinguishing born sustainable SMEs in the fashion industry. However, the lack of understanding of sustainability impairs the awareness of SBM and born sustainable companies. Furthermore, the sourcing of materials and the design of sustainable products represent obstacles in their operations.
Therefore, the study derived implications for managers. Long term collaborative relationships in the supply chain are an effective means to ensure sustainable development and increasing transparency in the business operations. To face the issue of a consistent definition or model of SBM, companies should communicate their clear understanding of sustainability and the actions they derive from it. Hence, the role of companies to increase awareness and educate their consumers should be reflected from different perspectives in future research.

EducationsMSocSc in Management of Creative Business Processes , (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2020
Number of pages154
SupervisorsErin Leitheiser