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Educating for Sustainable Fashion: Using Clothing Acquisition Abstinence to Explore Sustainable Consumption and Life Beyond Growth


This paper reports outcomes from a research study whereby fashion-oriented students experienced life where the ability to acquire new clothing was removed. Students volunteered to participate in this experiential learning challenge, titled the Fashion Detox: to abstain from clothing acquisition for 10 weeks and reflect about the experience. This learning experience was characterized by barriers to sustainable consumption, chief among them a range of temptations prompted by inescapable merchandising and marketing strategies, compulsive tendencies, and envy of those who could consume with impunity. Students also indicated many benefits to abstaining from acquisition, such as creativity and self-regulation. This teaching and learning experiment has important implications for the challenges faced by educators who must engage fashion-oriented students in sustainability topics and how these may be navigated.

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Correspondence to Cosette M. Joyner Armstrong.

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Joyner Armstrong, C.M., Connell, K.Y.H., Lang, C. et al. Educating for Sustainable Fashion: Using Clothing Acquisition Abstinence to Explore Sustainable Consumption and Life Beyond Growth. J Consum Policy 39, 417–439 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10603-016-9330-z

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  • Strong sustainable consumption
  • Clothing consumption
  • Acquisition abstinence
  • Degrowth