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


  • Helen Goworek


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.

Suggested Citation

  • Helen Goworek, 2011. "Social and environmental sustainability in the clothing industry: a case study of a fair trade retailer," Social Responsibility Journal, Emerald Group Publishing Limited, vol. 7(1), pages 74-86, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:eme:srjpps:v:7:y:2011:i:1:p:74-86
    DOI: 10.1108/17471111111114558

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    Cited by:

    1. Ableitner, Liliane & Tiefenbeck, Verena & Meeuw, Arne & Wörner, Anselma & Fleisch, Elgar & Wortmann, Felix, 2020. "User behavior in a real-world peer-to-peer electricity market," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 270(C).
    2. Krishnendu Saha & Prasanta Kumar Dey & Eleni Papagiannaki, 2021. "Implementing circular economy in the textile and clothing industry," Business Strategy and the Environment, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 30(4), pages 1497-1530, May.
    3. Juliane Peters & Ana Simaens, 2020. "Integrating Sustainability into Corporate Strategy: A Case Study of the Textile and Clothing Industry," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 12(15), pages 1-35, July.
    4. Anupriya Desore & Sapna A. Narula, 2018. "An overview on corporate response towards sustainability issues in textile industry," Environment, Development and Sustainability: A Multidisciplinary Approach to the Theory and Practice of Sustainable Development, Springer, vol. 20(4), pages 1439-1459, August.
    5. Rashid, Md Sanuwar & Byun, Sang-Eun, 2018. "Are consumers willing to go the extra mile for fair trade products made in a developing country? A comparison with made in USA products at different prices," Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 201-210.
    6. Manoj Kumar Paras & Daniel Ekwall & Rudrajeet Pal & Antonela Curteza & Yan Chen & Lichuan Wang, 2018. "An Exploratory Study of Swedish Charities to Develop a Model for the Reuse-Based Clothing Value Chain," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 10(4), pages 1-19, April.
    7. Ali Razzaq & Nabeel Younus Ansari & Zohaib Razzaq & Hayat Muhammad Awan, 2018. "The Impact of Fashion Involvement and Pro-Environmental Attitude on Sustainable Clothing Consumption: The Moderating Role of Islamic Religiosity," SAGE Open, , vol. 8(2), pages 21582440187, June.
    8. Melea Press, 2021. "Developing a strong sustainability research program in marketing," AMS Review, Springer;Academy of Marketing Science, vol. 11(1), pages 96-114, June.
    9. Nomita Pachar & Jyoti Dhingra Darbari & Kannan Govindan & P. C. Jha, 2022. "Sustainable performance measurement of Indian retail chain using two-stage network DEA," Annals of Operations Research, Springer, vol. 315(2), pages 1477-1515, August.
    10. Esben Pedersen & Wencke Gwozdz, 2014. "From Resistance to Opportunity-Seeking: Strategic Responses to Institutional Pressures for Corporate Social Responsibility in the Nordic Fashion Industry," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 119(2), pages 245-264, January.
    11. Marcus Adam, 2018. "The Role of Human Resource Management (HRM) for the Implementation of Sustainable Product-Service Systems (PSS)—An Analysis of Fashion Retailers," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 10(7), pages 1-27, July.
    12. Marcus Adam & Jochen Strähle & Matthias Freise, 2017. "The Interaction of Product-Service Systems (PSS) and Corporate Environmental Management (CEM): Can PSS Drive Today’s Fashion Industry Toward More Environmental Sustainability?," Service Science, INFORMS, vol. 9(3), pages 235-249, September.
    13. Natasja Börjeson & Magnus Boström, 2018. "Towards Reflexive Responsibility in a Textile Supply Chain," Business Strategy and the Environment, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 27(2), pages 230-239, February.
    14. Magnus Boström & Michele Micheletti, 2016. "Introducing the Sustainability Challenge of Textiles and Clothing," Journal of Consumer Policy, Springer, vol. 39(4), pages 367-375, December.
    15. Jayani Ishara Sudusinghe & Stefan Seuring, 2020. "Social Sustainability Empowering the Economic Sustainability in the Global Apparel Supply Chain," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 12(7), pages 1-18, March.
    16. Lixin Shen & Kannan Govindan & Madan Shankar, 2015. "Evaluation of Barriers of Corporate Social Responsibility Using an Analytical Hierarchy Process under a Fuzzy Environment—A Textile Case," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 7(3), pages 1-22, March.
    17. Africa Makasi & Krishna Govender, 2017. "Validating Marketing Strategy Measures for a Globalized Developing Country," Journal of Banking and Financial Dynamics, Sophia, vol. 1(1), pages 42-53.
    18. Deniz Köksal & Jochen Strähle & Martin Müller & Matthias Freise, 2017. "Social Sustainable Supply Chain Management in the Textile and Apparel Industry—A Literature Review," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 9(1), pages 1-32, January.


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