A Social Practices Approach to Encourage Sustainable Clothing Choices

Clare Saunders*, Irene Griffin, Fiona Hackney, Anjia Barbieri, Katie J. Hill, Jodie West, Joanie Willett

*Corresponding author for this work

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The literature on sustainable clothing covers five key thematic areas: problems associated with fast fashion; sustainable fibre production; sustainable design protocols; corporate responsibility; sociological and social–psychological understandings; and pro-environmental behaviour changes. This article interweaves these approaches in a study that assesses the potential of experiential learning in clothes making, mending, and modifying workshops to help generate new social practices. The workshop design drew on the five key thematic areas and purposively provided participants with infrastructures and equipment, facilitators, and peer-to-peer support and dialogue as means to help them collaboratively generate new skills, new senses of meaning, and more sustainable ways of thinking, feeling, and acting in relation to clothes. This article reveals that our social practices approach encouraged research participants to positively uptake pro-environmental clothing choices. Thematic qualitative analysis of a small sample of participants’ wardrobe audit interviews, informal discussions, reflective videos, and reflective diaries illustrates nuanced and dynamic individual responses to the workshops and other project interventions. Nuances are contingent on factors including styles, creativity, habits, and budgets. We argue that, in order to mainstream the benefits of our approach, it is necessary to normalise approaches to clothing and style that sit outside of, or adjacent to, mainstream fashion, including clothes making, mending, and modifying practices.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1282
Number of pages19
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2 Feb 2024

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