Accessing and affording sustainability: the experience of fashion consumption within young families

Elaine L. Ritch, Monika J. Schroder

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    40 Citations (Scopus)


    Despite the ever increasing levels of fashion consumption, neither retailers nor consumers have as yet implemented sustainability principles to a significant degree. This is despite the fact that sustainability principles are increasingly understood and will be applied by consumers, as long as affordable alternatives in mainstream fashions are available. In a highly competitive fashion retail sector, there exists an opportunity for UK high street fashion retailers to differentiate their brand image through aligning products with consum- ers’ moral frameworks. Using phenomenological interviews, this research explores the fashion consumption experiences of professional women with young children and living in or near Edinburgh, with particular focus on their expression of their own sustainability concerns in their day-to-day practices. The findings reveal that in the absence of suitable products, information and labelling, consumers apply heuristics to their choices, especially price. They refer to the more familiar ethical food market which serves as a metaphor for fashion-related practices. They talk about trustworthy retailers and about how they deal with and rationalize their own practices where they reveal an obvious attitude-behaviour gap. The women’s role of providing for the family adds further complexity in a sector which provides affordable alternative options.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)203-210
    Number of pages8
    JournalInternational Journal of Consumer Studies
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Feb 2012


    • fashion consumption
    • sustainability
    • consumer behaviour
    • ethical retailing


    Dive into the research topics of 'Accessing and affording sustainability: the experience of fashion consumption within young families'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this