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Social and environmental sustainability in the clothing industry: a case study of a fair trade retailer

  • Helen Goworek
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    Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to assess the issues currently involved in social and environmental sustainability in the clothing industry. Design/methodology/approach – The paper adopts a case study approach to investigate a business that operates successfully in this challenging market. Findings – As a consequence of increasing demand for ethical clothing, it has become standard practice for UK clothing retailers to develop CSR policies which impact upon their methods of garment sourcing and partnerships with suppliers. There is also a significant trend for retailers to offer ethical clothing ranges made from organic cotton or produced by Fair Trade manufacturers. The paper includes a case study on People Tree, which sells Fair Trade clothing sourced from developing countries. People Tree is rare amongst clothing companies in that it provides customers with a transparent view of its production sources via the internet. The company provides an example of how socially responsible and environmentally sustainable global sourcing can be applied in practice. Research limitations/implications – The study focuses on aspects of sustainability in an individual retailer. This could be extended to other ethical retailers in different countries, and a longitudinal study of such companies could be conducted. Originality/value – Literature on ethical fashion companies and their use of socially responsible strategies is sparse, and there is a lack of research that covers both social and environmental sustainability in this market. This paper fills some of the gaps.

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    Article provided by Emerald Group Publishing in its journal Social Responsibility Journal.

    Volume (Year): 7 (2011)
    Issue (Month): 2 (February)
    Pages: 74-86

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    Handle: RePEc:eme:srjpps:v:6:y:2010:i:2:p:74-86
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