Breaking News: Sustainable Fashion is In & Fast Fashion is Out; Constructions of Sustainable Consumption in Fast Fashion Advertising

Camryn Rosenstein

Student Name: Camryn Rosenstein
Major: Communication Studies
Advisors: Dr. Nii Nikoi & Dr. Ahmet Atay

Dr. Melissa M. Schultz Sustainability and the Environment Award (Honorable Mention)

The primary purpose of this study was to investigate the pivotal role advertising plays in fast fashion consumption and shaping young consumers ideas and values about the fashion industry, fast fashion, sustainable consumption, and sustainability. This study contributes to limited research into greenwashing and consumer perceptions and attitudes towards sustainable consumption. Moreover, this study highlights the increased relevance of the sustainable fashion movement in mainstream society. The researcher recruited 30 college students to participants in focus group sessions and individual interviews. An H&M advertisement and a video clip from a documentary, The True Cost, were shown to participants, so the researcher could examine how participants evaluated the advertising message about sustainability and what their interpretations revealed about their perceptions and attitudes of sustainability and sustainable consumption. In addition, the researcher performed a rhetorical analysis on the same H&M advertisement to illustrate the rhetorical devices H&M used to greenwash. Major conclusions of this research include the finding that while all young consumers had strong environmental values and comprehension of sustainability, engagement in sustainable habits and behaviors were gendered. In addition, the participants understanding of capitalism and corporate structures, suggest that greenwashed advertisements may be unsuccessful in persuading young consumers of sustainable claims made by fast fashion brands.

Camryn will be online to field comments on April 16: 10am-noon EDT (Asia: late evening, PST 6am-8am, Africa/Europe: late afternoon).

Posted in I.S. Symposium 2021, Independent Study on April 6, 2021.