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Slow fashion consumption in Johannesburg, South Africa: perspectives from millennial consumers

C Moodly
L Christie
M Strydom


The global fashion industry is driven by a quick pace, and an ‘out with the old, in with the new’ character, while consumers are enticed with instant gratification through the rapid fashion cycle (Wang et al., 2017). Unfortunately, fashion production and consumption leave behind disreputable waste and toxic effluents from textile production processes and large amounts of unusable or unfashionable clothing waste dumped in landfills (Anastasia, 2017). A lack of consumer awareness is one of the many hindrances to dealing with fashion waste responsibly (Enviroserv, n.d.). Movements calling for a minimalist lifestyle, such as the Voluntary Simplicity Movement, are growing in popularity because society is recognising the detrimental effects of consumption (Kennedy et al., 2013). There is however limited information from emerging countries, pertaining to the millennial consumer’s stance on fast and slow fashion and its impact on the environment. This paper intended to explore millennial consumers’ awareness, perceptions and attitudes regarding slow fashion consumption, in South Africa. This research was qualitative and followed an exploratory and descriptive research design. Millennial slow fashion consumers made up the sampling group because millennial consumers are recognised as the most influential consumer group, with the greatest buying power regarding fashion. Interviews, from purposefully selected participants, were conducted to gain knowledge on the awareness of consumers in relation to slow fashion consumption South Africa, however all participants happened to be from Johannesburg, Gauteng. The findings revealed awareness of the damaging environmental and social effects of fast fashion production. Most participants associated the fast fashion industry with money-making, reckless production practices and consumption of clothing at a dangerous pace. The participants recognised slow fashion as somewhat of an antithesis to fast fashion, with mindful consumption motivating consumption of clothing. However, slow fashion is viewed as a niche market, in terms of affordability and accessibility. Although it is the participants’ view that consumers have the ability to change and revolutionize the clothing industry, an increase in awareness of slow and fast fashion alike is imperative. The paper contributes to the literature on slow fashion consumption from the perspective of consumers in an emerging market.

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eISSN: 0378-5254