• Carolin Engelke
  • Anika Spindelmann
Purpose - The purpose of this thesis is to strategically enhance the communication of the e-commerce startup
Better World Fashion. Therefore, a framework for sustainable fashion communication is created and
applied to develop a smart practice guide of persuasive sustainable fashion communication towards the mass

Design/methodology/approach - Taking a subjectivist, hermeneutic stance, a qualitative multiple case study
approach is selected to conduct a smart practice research. The thesis investigates the communication
practices of five companies on four units on their corporate websites through a directed content analysis on
the three identified communication dimensions of value profile, message mix, and credibility establishment.

Findings - The findings reveal that the difficulty of sustainable fashion communication lies in the conflicting
natures of both concepts. Fashion is symbolic and hedonic, and relates to implicitly create dreams and
emotions. Sustainability, refers to taking responsibility and selfless actions without a direct personal benefit
giving it a rational character that requires textual, explicit communication. Smart communication is found to
bridge the conflict and activate the mainstream consumer through the creation of emotions. It is smart to
centre the consumer by focusing on personal values in the form of a double benefit approach in which fashion
values are in the foreground and sustainability values are mentioned secondarily (Fashion-First strategy). The
analysis of Better World Fashion shows that the brand suffers from green marketing myopia, and several
communication practices stand in sharp contrast to the smart practices. The essence of recommendations lies
in a strategic roadmap for BWF´s value profile, message mix and credibility establishment throughout the
different website units that focus on taking a more emotional positioning and shifting from high text
sustainable information, to a more fashion imagery. This is exemplified by proposing a rebranding of BWF with
two possible scenarios based on uniqueness, or country of origin as a core value.

Research limitation - Employing a smart practice study, the findings are tailored to BWF and thus delimited
from the ability of generalisations. As all observed cases are embedded in a specific context, a replicative
transfer of the results to other contexts is limited.

Originality/value - The thesis contributes to the literature by developing an integrated framework on
sustainable fashion communication which creates a holistic picture of the dimensions and variables in the field
of research. Furthermore, it investigates the web-based communication of sustainable fashion brands through
content analysis to extract smart practices, a way the issue has not yet been studied.

Paper type - Research paper
Publication date9 Aug 2017
ID: 261327060