Sustainable Fashion: How Different Types of Fashion Brands Undergo Distinct Challenges

Cecilie Hedeboe Børch Jensen

Student thesis: Master thesis

Abstract

Fashion is one of the most polluting industries globally, and all fashion brands are urged by stakeholders to develop towards sustainability. The brands, however, face various challenges preventing them from developing sustainably. This study aims to provide practitioners with an understanding of the challenges that different types of fashion brands encounter in order to enable consultants to provide the brands with solutions to the challenges. Therefore, this thesis asks: How do the challenges from undergoing a sustainable development differ across different types of fashion brands? In this context, the thesis defines sustainable development as the development of an organisation with the aim to positively grow in at least two of the three bottom lines, that is, social, economic, and environmental. Based on a review of the relationship between fashion and sustainability as well as key informant interviews and secondary desk research, the research has aimed to provide an understanding of the industry and its relationship with sustainability. Based on preliminary and key informant interviews, two different types of fashion brands were discovered: the born conventional and born sustainable organisation. Two case interviews with a proactive, born conventional and born sustainable fashion brand respectively were conducted. Through the interviews, the research has aimed to provide an understanding of the challenges that different types of brands experience. The analysis of the findings outlined five main areas across which fashion brands can be challenged in different ways: locating or change of suppliers, transferring consumers, the creative compromise, change of style DNA and the lack of volume, which collectively cause a slow pace of development. The discussion of those findings indicated that the born conventional fashion brand was challenged because of its path dependency. In contrast, the born sustainable brand’s lack of volume caused an unreached potential economy of scale, which forced the brand to make unsustainable choices near the time of the founding. Based on that finding, the research proposes a new type of fashion brand, the born voluminous and sustainable organisation, with an aim to avoid the challenges that the case organisations encountered.

EducationsMSocSc in Management of Creative Business Processes , (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
LanguageEnglish
Publication date2020
Number of pages89
SupervisorsMark Lorenzen