Locating social values within mum-to-mum redistribution clothing networks

    Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract

    Abstract

    This research examines the social marketplace from the perspective that consumers are proactively evaluating the value of children's clothing to inform their disposal options. These creative post-consumption distribution methods emerge from two perspectives: firstly, children wear clothing for a limited time due to their continued growth and often clothing is still in a wearable condition but no longer fits the child; and secondly, continued consumption needs add to the financial strain of families, particularly for larger families. This research originated from a larger investigation that explored how fashion is procured within the family setting and is informed by the narratives of 28 professionally working mothers. The participants' revealed the importance of both formal and informal networks where clothing was passed, used and shared within their localities; this included family and friends, the children's school, charities, Freecycle and organised sales. However, donations of clothing expanded to wider global charity appeals to provide specific clothing and accessories. These networks were symbolic of shared social values and building supportive communities that provided emotional and practical pathways for family provisioning. The research contributes to theoretical assumptions of social innovation where consumers assume control over marketplace options. Evolving from the shared economy and collective consumption, research streams which are underrepresented in academic discourse, the research provides practical examples of redistribution markets and collaborative lifestyles, transcending notions of frugality or economic hardship to include concerns for sustainability (Hamari et al., 2015; Heinrichs, 2013). This is important, not only for identifying motivations and drivers for participating in used clothing networks, but highlighting the sustainability agenda through making the most of scarce resources and reducing textiles waste in landfill sites, as well as including concerns for exploitation as alleged within fashion production. The research provides examples of how fashion behaviours have been shaped through concerns for the social and environmental consequences of fashion production and that secondhand clothing provides an element of control to manage the sustainable impact. It also situates family provisioning as a visual representation of the family's values and identity construction (Collet, 2005), something that also transfers to participating in sustainable practice. As such, the research provides guidance on how these informal networks offer potential for social enterprise and sustainable business methods that appeal to the ethically concerned consumer and help better manage family budgets, through fostering shared clothing networks spanning family and friend circles. Although it is important to note that used clothing networks were primarily orientated around children's clothing, the anticipated altruistic perceptions of used clothing networks have the potential to transfer into other sectors through creative social innovative partnerships (Sali and Ellingstad, 2016).
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - 5 Sep 2016

    Keywords

    • consumer behaviour
    • children's clothing
    • value
    • post-consumption
    • sustainability
    • redistribution

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