Survey Results

I got my MPhil survey results back months ago (how time flies!) and I’ve been busy analysing and drawing conclusions from them. The online survey was the second part of my MPhil methodology for the communicating ethical fashion project and I targeted individuals within the age range of 18 to 30 who either work or study at the University. Choosing the sample was hard enough because ideally I would have liked to have had a sample representative of the whole of the UK, but of course that would be near impossible for just myself to complete. The reason for choosing the sample I did was because I had easy access to this group, young people generally shop regularly, and they have a whole lifetime of shopping ahead of them. They can more easily be moulded perhaps . . . the new ‘sustainable’ generation.

I had 89 responses which I was slightly disappointed with, however that changed when I began analysing! I had to get to grips with statistical testing for the first time, something I am keen to get better at if I want a career in research. I coded qualitative answers into themes, worked out means, medians, calculated scores and compared variables. Although I had touched on many of these areas before, it was still a steep learning curve.

As expected, it is difficult to draw significant conclusions from a fairly small sample; there were certainly no statistically significant points to variable changes. However, it was encouraging to see a strong ethical agenda and environmental awareness. When it came to shopping for clothes, the majority were regular and engaged consumers. There is definitely potential there to lead them to greater tools of communication. I was surprised how many respondents had heard of a number of ethical brands, not just People Tree but the smaller brands too. That said, not many had shopped with these ethical brands. A fair number of respondents described ethical fashion as bland, unfashionable, expensive, or hippie-ish, not an unusual connotation but still frustrating as there are so many beautiful/cool ethical garments out there. There was a reasonable awareness of terms like ‘organic’ and ‘fairtrade’ which was great, but a lack of specific responses.

To be honest, consumers shouldn’t have to be the ones making sacrifices, all garments should be ethical.

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Social Labelling Conference

Last week I went to an ethical fashion conference held at Northumbria University. It was focused on social labelling which is very relevent to my MPhil thesis question, ‘How to communicate the environmental and social impacts of producing a cotton t-shirt to the consumer at point of sale’. There were representatives there from FAIRTRADE, People Tree, Workers Rights Consortium and many more, but what was really interesting was to find PhD students studying such similiar topics to me! It becomes easy to think that I’m the only one doing research in my field, but that is of course not true, especially as it is such a current issue. Having said that, we were all approaching it in different ways.

I picked up on a lot of new information and will have to spend time going back through my literature review to add these details. What really struck me is the amount of work going on to help the conditions for workers globally, and the number of barriers that they face. I also realised that if I want to start my own label in the future, there is a lot of support out there to help me find an ethical way of manufacturing products. I’ll update the blog as I go through my notes and the conference papers.

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