Youth, Fashion and Sustainability: The Impact of Re-maker Fashion Workshops on Adolescent Skills, Knowledge and Consumer Behavior Julie Mastrarrigo Jorsling

The global trillion dollar a year fashion industry is one of the world’s largest industrial polluters. There is an increased focus on transforming the fashion industry and integrating sustainable practices.  Addressing the negative environmental and social impacts of the fashion industry has focused on change within the industry itself. However, consumers are an essential component of and a force for moving the industry in the direction of increased sustainability. In this context raising the awareness and educating consumers is essential for engendering change in fashion consumption behaviors. Young Consumers represent the future and are currently uninformed about the fashion industry, the impact of overconsumption and the clothing they wear. This study assesses the effectiveness of a constructivist workshop designed for young consumers age 13-18 in raising awareness and promoting the acquisition of skills and knowledge about the fashion industry, clothing and clothing care. The workshop design is based on the hypothesis that raised awareness, increased knowledge and skill acquisition is the foundation for young consumers’ behavioral change. The researcher design involves young consumers (N=29) participating in one of two Re-Maker Fashion Workshops. All participants attended 8th, 11th or 12th grade. Students completed a pre-workshop survey and post-workshop survey. Additionally students were observed in the workshops and informal discussions were held with the students throughout the workshops. The results revealed that participants displayed a high level of interest in learning about the environmental impact of both the practices of the fashion industry and consumers’ current overconsumption; a range of prior knowledge; and a willingness to engage in behaviors that encourage sustainable practices. The participants currently lack the skills to repair their clothing and are interested in learning. A considerable amount of information discussed in the workshop was retained. Student interest in skill acquisition is an indication of future behavioral change.

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