Anne Peirson-Smith video recording
Redressing the Fashion Sustainability Paradox in Hong Kong and China: An Examination of Tailor-made Promotional Practices Underpinning Sustainable Production, Consumption and Post-Consumption in a Non-Western Frame
Whilst sustainable production and consumption practices are in evidence across Hong Kong and Asia Pacific in the creative industries and the fashion sector, these initiatives appear to be tentative and sporadic and are often driven by, or replicated from, Western practices. In an industry traditionally based on change and disposability, ethical practices of production and consumption are still a contested site in this region and issues of agency remain unclear. Equally, whilst consumers in Hong Kong and China appear to support the concept of sustainable fashion, the majority still buy non-ethically produced fast fashion garments at low price-points or global luxury brands. Whilst fashion brands have introduced green labels and rebranded their production practices in eco terms, these have been criticised for mere ‘green-washing’. Or, these promotional campaigns may be miscommunicating their messages as these are often misunderstood or misaligned with consumer values and national culture. This paper will investigate sustainable fashion projects in Hong Kong and China using social marketing techniques that tap into issues of nationhood and national culture to promote sustainability in the local fashion industry. The findings will be based on qualitative interviews using a case study format with a coalition of cultural intermediaries and stakeholders involved in the sustainable fashion movement in Hong Kong and China, such as fashion designers, fashion brands, NGOs, trade associations, pressure groups and department stores attempting to change both local perceptions and behaviours about sustainable production and consumption practices in the fashion industry using tailor-made, values-driven social communication campaigns based on fashion shows, competitions, exhibitions, and triggering events. The paper will examine the underlying rhetorical narratives and practices employed in creating and promoting sustainable fashion in terms of alignment with cultural value systems espoused by the Asian consumer, suggesting future directions for eco-fashion initiatives in non-Western places and spaces.