Open Access Research Article

Sustainability Transitions in Disclosures in the Fashion Industry: Comparative Insights into Social Sustainability, Circularity and Systemic Shifts

Marlen Gabriele Arnold* and Katja Beyer

Chemnitz University of Technology, Germany

Corresponding Author

Received Date: April 24, 2020;  Published Date: May 28, 2020


The fashion industry is the second largest global industry and constantly involved in local, regional and global affairs including environmental harm and social abuse. Stakeholder engagement, rising public consciousness and responsibility as well as economic pressure and entrepreneurial creativity have been resulted in nascent social and circular business strategies in the fashion industry as well as evolutionary steps towards sustainability in general. By respecting planetary boundaries circular economy is one approach the fashion industry is also facing at. Although circular economy is associated with benefits for society, social sustainability-related issues are not automatically addressed and integrated. But how are ideas and approaches mirroring social sustainability, circular strategies and systemic shifts embedded in the fashion industry? Conducting a software-based content analysis by means of LeximancerTM, social sustainability concepts in the fashion industry were compared for three groups at three different times. Therefore, academic publications, two large and internationally operating fashion companies, and stakeholder communication concerning sustainable and circular fashion were investigated. The findings reveal that social issues are underrepresented in the concept of circular economy in the fashion industry and limited to standard topics. Systemic shifts are mainly addressed by academia and stakeholders. We strongly recommend to integrate social sustainability concepts from the very first into approaches of circular economy in order to strengthen a sustainable development in the fashion industry.

Keywords: Social sustainability; Sustainability transitions; Circular economy; Fashion industry; Stakeholder; Software-based content analysis; LeximancerTM

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