Journal of Sustainable Marketing

ISSN: 2766-0117

Journal Insights | Publishing Model: Open Access | APC: Waived by the Publisher

Editor-in-Chief View Editorial Board

Dana L. Alden

Special Issue

Fashion and (Un) Sustainable Behavior

Guest Editors

Lisa McNeill

Professor of Marketing, Otago Business School, New Zealand | New Zealand View More

Judith Lynne Zaichkowsky

Distinguished Professor of Marketing, Beedie School of Business, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada | Canada View More

Two decades of fast fashion have significantly changed the clothing landscape.  The value of clothing has reduced to the point where garment lifespans are extremely short-lived and fashion items are quickly directed to garbage when the attractiveness of the clothing style fades. There are multiple causes of this textile crisis - one being low-cost production, hence low prices of garments due to mass exponential growth of manufacturing in developing countries such as Bangladesh, Vietnam, and Indonesia.


Alongside this growth is a measurable decline in environmental health, due to impacts of this manufacturing on water use, and water/soil pollution. It is estimated that apparel and footwear occupy about nine percent of the world’s greenhouse gas footprint, and by 2050 will be responsible for more than 25% of the world’s carbon budget (Earth Day, 2022). According to Earth Day “the industry produces 100 billion garments a year for seven billion people and most of it (87%) will be discarded to landfill or incinerated. The production of synthetic textiles (60% of clothing) is responsible for 35% of all ocean microplastics that are now in our food chain. It contributes 20% of all industrial wastewater and pollutes freshwater systems from the use of dyes and chemicals.”


There are two obvious sides to the problems of fast fashion. One is the production and retail side of those looking to make a profitable business model. Opposite is the consumer behavior perspective which depends on such aspects as social norms, perceived needs, knowledge, and attitudes. There is also a third aspect that has been largely ignored. This is government regulations around production, trade, and tariffs. Governments have the power to regulate and change industries. However, for the most part, public policymakers have not taken proactive steps to address the environmental and social challenges of the fast fashion industry. Given this three-dimensional problem, we seek original research papers from all aspects of concern: business, consumers, and governmental policy.


Business: The business aspect of fast fashion involves both the manufacturer and retailer and sometimes these are the same when the retailer is the manufacturer. Given that manufacturers produce far more clothing than can be purchased in the marketplace, how do we reduce production? Making a difference in a system filled with ever-increasing volumes of products is challenging. Consider the bulk retailer Costco (Waters, 2023), which sold $9B of clothing in 2022. This retail giant targets the male customer and stocks clothing at dramatically low prices or in savings bundles. Examples of prices for basics of its Kirkland brand are $14 for jeans, $19 sweaters/joggers, $25 for dress shirts, and $100 suits. Socks are sold in value bundles of at least six.  Clothing is purchased alongside eggs, meat, and electronics on a weekly basis.


There is clearly profit potential in frequent purchasing of clothing. Take, for example, the acceleration of the stock price for TJ Max, which has split five times over the years. A two-cent investment in 1975 would worth more than $95.00 US today (TJX, 2024). TJ Max’s mission is to ‘deliver great value’ to customers via a rapidly changing assortment of fashion merchandise at prices generally 20% to 60% below full retail. It is not unusual for consumers to load shopping carts full of clothing for purchase. The question becomes do retailers and manufacturers themselves even care what they are selling and how it affects the environment? Will they change to mitigate the problem? Therefore we seek papers which:


1) Provide evidence from clothing retailers and manufacturers about how they are integrating sustainable practices;

2) Offer solutions to excessive consumption through new product development and recycling and repurposing, thus changing the consumption patterns of consumers.


Consumers: Recent studies have found that many consumers purchase new fashion items at least once a month, if not two to three times a week (Mohammed & Razé, 2023). When faced with low cost and widely available garments, researchers find that consumption behavior often runs entirely contrary to the values of sustainability-focused concern for the environment and people. Even consumers who report higher knowledge of the impact of fast fashion continue to consume unsustainably – not trying on, not returning unsuitable garments – relying on the small relative cost of these garments to offset their feelings regarding waste and disposal (Yu, Gomez-Borquez & Zaichkowsky, 2023).


The low cost of many garments has led the consumer to discard and replace clothing when it no longer fits their image, or worse, simply when it becomes soiled.  While newer technology has increased consumers’ ability to effectively clean textiles, some might discard clothing before paying to clean it or even wash it themselves. This past decade has seen the decline of dry-cleaning establishments (Nguyen & Hoff, 2022), as it may cost more to dry clean the item than replace it.  While consumers are known to be receptive to green consumption concerns, and show behavioral intention toward change (e.g., Armutcu & Tan, 2023), it has been suggested that real change requires consumers understanding that their choices will make a difference (Graça & Kharé, 2023).

The fashion system is rife with unsustainable consumer behavior (Shambare, Muswera & Shambare, 2017), such as overconsumption, waste, willful ignorance of ethical and physical production concerns, avoidance of garment life-extension practice. Further, there is evidence to suggest that consumer behavior is ‘contagious’ in contexts such as fashion (Schaefers et al., 2015). We therefore invite research which:


1) Explores and documents the behavior of consumers regarding their clothing;

2) Examines the relationships between understanding and knowledge of consumers about the textile industry and subsequent behavior;

3) Offers solutions to excessive consumption through changing the consumption patterns of consumers.


Governmental Responsibilities: While government intervention has the potential to be one of the more effective ways to encourage sustainable fashion consumption, public policies in this area lag those observed in other consumer categories such as food, electronics, and vehicles (Baker & McNeill, 2023). However, there is a glimmer of hope that individual legislators around the world are beginning to recognize the importance of government policy in addressing the fast fashion problem. For example, the New York State Fashion Act, if passed, would require industries to scrutinize their supply chains. Under the law, all apparel and footwear retailers with global revenue of at least $100 million selling their products in New York State would be required to map supply chains, disclose environmental and social impacts, and set binding targets to reduce those impacts (National Law Review, 2023)

Similarly, both the EU’s policy, Directive on Green Claims, designed to dramatically reduce greenwashing and New Zealand’s recent legislation requiring organizations to register actions to address exploitation in operations and supply chains seek to increase sustainability transparency in the manufacture and sale of goods (European Commission, 2023; Mcilraith, 2023). This special issue therefore invites work that:


1) Proposes and/or investigates new theories to explain phenomena that drive the overconsumption of consumers, and how this might be interrupted by changes in business and government policy;

2) Extends previously developed frameworks to illustrate how government action can be leveraged to control supply and inform consumers about their choices.


Special Issue Process and Timeline

All papers submitted to the Special Issue will follow the Journal of Sustainable Marketing review process, led by the special issue editors. To submit your manuscript, follow the manuscript submission guidelines outlined in the "Instructions for Authors" for listed on the journal’s website ( Be sure to select the correct Special Issue.


The submission deadline is December 1, 2024. Accepted papers will be published in the Early Insights – Luminous Insights Online First Service within a month of manuscript acceptance.



About Guest Editors

Lisa McNeill

Professor of Marketing,

Otago Business School

Po Box 56, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand



Professor McNeill teaches primarily in the areas of innovation and new product development, and consumer behavior. Lisa's research focuses on behavior and consumption, examining aspects of retailing, brand management and sustainability in relation to this. Recent research highlights the increasing sustainability focus of the fashion industry and explores consumer motivations to become more sustainable in their choices, use and disposal of fashion products.


  • Hamlin, R. P., & McNeill, L. S. (2023). Marketing tactics for sustainable fashion and the circular economy: The impact of ethical labels on fast fashion choice. Sustainability, 15(13), 10331.
  • McNeill, L. (2020). Preface to Transitioning to Responsible Consumption and Production. MDPI Books.
  • Ah Fook, L., & McNeill, L. (2020). Click to buy: The impact of retail credit on over-consumption in the online environment. Sustainability, 12(18), 7322.
  • McNeill, L., Hamlin, R., McQueen, R., Degenstein, L., Wakes, S., Garrett, T., & Dunn, L. (2020). Waste not want not: Behavioural intentions toward garment life extension practices, the role of damage, brand, and cost on textile disposal. Journal of Cleaner Production, 260, 121026.
  • McNeill, L., Hamlin, R., McQueen, R., Degenstein, L., Garrett, T., Dunn, L. & Wakes, S. (2020). Fashion sensitive young consumers and fashion garment repair: Emotional connections to garments as a sustainability strategy. International Journal of Consumer Studies, 44(4), 361-368.,


Judith Lynne Zaichkowsky

Distinguished Professor of Marketing

Beedie School of Business

Simon Fraser University

Vancouver, B.C., V6C 1W6, Canada



Professor Zaichkowsky has a long history and interest in fashion. In her pre graduate years she coordinated fashion shows and specialized in textiles. Recently she has served on dissertation committees of young scholars investigating sustainability and fashion (Hepner, 2019 and Buttner, 2023).  She has led a field school in Berlin pertaining to retailing.  She now focuses on helping young scholars and mainly teaches consumer behavior and brand management.


  • Buttner, Ana Julia (2023), Fashion Consumption and Fashion Behavior inside a digital Era  ESPM Sau Paulo, Brazil
  • Yunzhijun Yu, Claudia Lizzette Gómez Bórquez, & Judith Lynne Zaichkowsky (2023). Mitigating trendy cheap fast fashion's negative impact. Journal of Sustainable Marketing. 1-21.
  • Zaichkowsky, Judith, and Yunzhijun Yu. (2019), Fast Fashion, Maladaptive Consumption and Global Pollution, SCP Boutique Conference on The Psychology of Addiction, Seattle, WA. No conference proceedings.
  • Judith Hepner (2019), Competitive Advantage in Luxury Brand Marketing in an Era of Sustainable Development, International University of Monaco INSEEC, Monaco.



  • Armutou, B. & Tan, M. F. (2023). ‘A Study on Intentions of Generation Z Consumers to Buy Recyclable Products’, Journal of Sustainable Marketing, pp.1-17,
  • Baker, K. & McNeill, L. (2023). A five-stage framework for sustainability certification for fashion brands: Can a standardised approach work in the fashion industry?. International Journal of Fashion Design & Technology Education.
  • Earth Day (2022). Fashion for the Earth. Retrieved from
  • European Commission. (n.d.). Green Claims. Retrieved from (accessed November 20, 2023).
  • Graça, S. S. & Pioche Kharé, V. (2023). ‘Educating Global Green Consumers: The Role of Online Education and Brand Communication in Promoting Green Buying Behavior’, Journal of Sustainable Marketing, pp.1-19 |
  • van IJzendoorn, M.H., Bakermans‐Kranenburg, M.J., Pannebakker, F. & Out, D. (2010). In defense of situational morality: genetic, dispositional and situational determinants of children’s donating to charity. Journal of Moral Education, 39(1), 1-20.
  • Mcilraith, B. (2023). Businesses to share supply chain and operation details through public
  • register to tackle slavery. Retrieved from (accessed 20 November 2023).
  • Mohammed, V. & Razé, A. (2023). Towards sustainable fashion consumption: an exploratory study of consumer behavior in a developing country. Journal of Sustainable Marketing, 4(1), 90-109.
  • Nguyen. B. & Hoff, M., (2022). The dry-cleaning industry is slowly dying — and this chart makes it crystal clear. Retrieved from
  • Schaefers, T., Wittkowski, K., Benoit, S., & Ferraro, R. (2015). Customer misbehaviour in access-based consumption. Journal of Service Research, 19(1), 3–21.
  • Shambare, R., Muswera, N., & Shambare, J. (2017). Young Consumer Misbehaviour: A Perspective from Developing Countries. In A. Gbadamosi (Ed.), Young Consumer Behaviour: A Research Companion. UK: Routledge.
  • Shevchenko, T, Saidani, M., Ranjbari, M., Kronenberg, J., Danko, Y. & Laitala, K. (2023). Consumer behavior in the circular economy: Developing a product-centric framework. Journal of CleanerProduction, 384, 135568, 1-16.
  • TJX (2024). How we do it. Retrieved from
  • Waters, J. (2023). Costco Clothing Is Cheap. WSJ Readers Love It. But Is It Actually Good Value? Retrieved from
  • Yu, Y., Gomez-Borquez, C. L. & Zaichkowsky, J. L. (2023). Mitigating trendy cheap fast fashion's negative impact. Journal of Sustainable Marketing, 1-21.
  • UN Environment Programme (2009). UNEP 2009 Annual Report. Retrieved from

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