New research considers fairtrade fashion for children

01 July 2016

New research considers fairtrade fashion for children

High-street fashion could learn from the example of Fairtrade to make mum’s lives much easier when choosing clothes for their children, according to new research.

Improved garment labelling akin to the food sector would give mother’s a better understanding of the ‘green’ credentials of children’s clothing brands, found fashion marketing experts at Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) and the University of Dundee.

A detailed study of working mothers provides a window into the experience of Edinburgh families as they seek to balance the competing aspects of affordability, ethics and sustainability when buying children’s fashion items.

Dr Elaine Ritch, Lecturer in Marketing in the Glasgow School for Business and Society, said: “The mothers I spoke to were looking for more information and assurances of provenance that clarity of labelling terms – much like Fairtrade - can bring.

“Few mums understood what an ‘eco-factory’ was and they equated the term ‘exploitation’ solely with wages, when it can also mean not being allowed to leave the factory to go to the toilet or being locked in an unsafe environment for hours.”

The research, published in the Journal of Marketing Management, found the competing demands of parenthood often meant that mothers prioritise meeting children’s tastes and managing the family budget over supporting sustainably-sourced products.

“Mums don’t give sustainability lots of headspace as they have so much to think about already, added Dr Ritch. “They cared about recycling, bought ‘pure’ baby products with no additives for their children and would buy Fairtrade products from the supermarket, but didn’t transfer these behaviours when it came to fashion.

“The retailers know this and that’s why so few high street fashion outlets carry any sustainable fashion lines. Retailers always seek the lowest production price and the benchmark price keeps reducing as they undercut one another. Consumers are now only willing to pay so much for a fashion product, which means sustainability isn’t a priority for the consumer or the retailer.”


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