Do Sustainability Labels Make Us More Negligent? Rebound and Moral Licensing Effects in the Clothing Industry

  • Feray AdıgüzelEmail author
  • Carolina Linkowski
  • Erik Olson
Part of the Sustainable Textiles: Production, Processing, Manufacturing & Chemistry book series (STPPMC)


Companies and consumers are more concerned about sustainability nowadays. The clothing industry is receiving more attention due to mass production and its significant impact on the planet. Fashion brands are introducing sustainable lines and circular economies in their business model to reduce their energy consumption, advocating for environmental protection and other activities. Yet, sustainable efforts suffer from indulgent and towering consumption. Do sustainability labels really promote moral behavior or are they leading to outrageous outcomes?

Rebound and moral licensing effects can be classified as unwanted negative consequences of moral behavior. This research shows to what extent these two effects can be a potential source of an ineffective sustainable policy in the clothing industry. This study uses a conjoint study to measure consumers’ willingness to pay and quantity purchase for three attributes: brand, style, and sustainability label. Sustainability labels’ attribute levels were identified as “emphasizing recycled materials,” “emphasizing efficiency in production and distribution,” and “none.” Further, we segmented consumers based on their clothing shopping habit and compared them.

Sustainability labels emphasizing efficiency in production and distribution increased the number of clothes consumers would consider buying and willingness to pay more than the ones emphasizing the presence of recycled fibers in the product. Individuals seem to purchase larger quantities of sustainable-efficient produced garments because of their good purpose, and pro-sustainable fashion consumers show consistent behavior on their sustainable preferences. Thus, rebound effect occurs in clothing industry, but we did not find any proof of moral licensing effect.


Sustainability labels Moral licensing Rebound effect Signaling sustainability Fashion brands Clothing recyclers Clothing wasters Conjoint analysis 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Feray Adıgüzel
    • 1
    Email author
  • Carolina Linkowski
    • 2
  • Erik Olson
    • 3
  1. 1.LUISS Guido Carli UniversityRomeItaly
  2. 2.Huddly IncOsloNorway
  3. 3.BI Norwegian Business SchoolOsloNorway

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