1st Edition

The Sustainable Fashion Quest Innovations in Business and Policy

By Nikolay Anguelov Copyright 2021
    186 Pages 2 Color Illustrations
    by Productivity Press

    186 Pages 2 Color Illustrations
    by Productivity Press

    186 Pages 2 Color Illustrations
    by Productivity Press

    When thinking about lowering or changing consumption to lower carbon footprints, the obvious offenders come easily to mind: petroleum and petroleum products, paper and plastic, even food, but not clothes.

    When people evaluate ways to lower their personal carbon footprint by changing purchasing habits, they are bombarded with information to avoid petroleum and petroleum products, plastics, paper, even food, but not clothes. Most consumers do not think of clothes as a source of environmental damage. Yet, clothes are made with petroleum products through chemically-laden industrial processes that generate significant pollution. The fashion industry is among the largest organic water polluters in the world, accounting for significant greenhouse gas emissions and generating massive amounts of waste as a function of the frequent discarding of used clothing.

    In the Dirty Side of the Garment Industry: Fast Fashion and Its Negative Impact on Environment and Society, author Nikolay Anguelov exposed the ecological damage from the fast-fashion business model. In this book, The Sustainable Fashion Quest: Innovations in Business and Policy, the author takes this one step further by focusing on solutions. This book uses the familiar (yet complex) industry of fashion as a lens to examine how business pressures and national and international policies can have both positive and negative social and ecological impacts. It provides an analysis of extant and emerging policies to address the divergence in the ongoing quest to maximize economic development and minimize the social costs of the industrialization process. It also examines emerging technologies and innovative business models that have the potential to revolutionize how fashion is perceived, manufactured, and consumed.

    This book begins with an introductory letter that outlines the social and environmental issues facing the fashion industry, as well as emphasizing the seriousness and urgency of addressing them. Each chapter then focuses on a major aspect of the industry with an increasing emphasis on policy. The chapters outline the impact of global-level and business-level decisions on the industry’s success, its social and environmental impact, and its relationship to consumers. The goal of the book is to define that transition, explain its challenges, and educate readers on the possibilities to become powerful drivers of change through their professional actions and their personal behavior as consumers.

    While the book specifically analyzes the fashion industry, it also explains the implications for other industrial sectors. It uses a product everyone is familiar with (we all buy clothes, after all) to examine the decisions, impacts, and policies shaping the industry behind the scenes. The linkages are applicable to other fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) business sectors, such as consumer electronics, which are starting to face sustainability criticism for relying on a business model of promoting a high frequency of repeat purchasing.

    Prologue. Authors Bio. Introduction: A Letter to the Fashion Student. 1 The Evolution of Fashion Business Models. 2 The Fast Fashion Paradox. 3 The Changing Face of Fast Fashion. 4 The Realities on the Ground. 5 The Policies of Consumerism. 6 Sustainable Fashion Legislation: An Analysis of Emerging Networks in Global Governance. 7 The Way Ahead. Appendix: List of All Nations. References. Index.


    Nikolay Anguelov is a professor of economic development in the Department of Public Policy at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth. He oversees the graduate certificate and concentration in Public Management for the Master of Public Policy (MPP) program as well as service the research-intensive policy analysis curriculum for the department. Dr. Anguelov is an interdisciplinary scholar whose work focuses on the adjacencies between economics, politics and diplomacy. His research focus is a product of his private sector experience in international trade. As an alumnus of the Fashion Institute of Technology, Dr. Anguelov started his career in the private sector of fashion and home product international commerce where he eventually started his own successful business. Those experiences define his attention to the role policy plays in creating economic incentives both domestically and internationally. Dr. Anguelov is also the author Policy and Political Theory In Trade Practice: Multinational Corporations and Global Governments (2014) and Economic Sanctions Vs. Soft Power: Lessons From Myanmar, North Korea and the Middle East (2015) both published by Palgrave Macmillan.

    "Nikolay Anguelov’s new book makes an important contribution to fashion sustainability scholarship through a critical analysis of the cultural legacy of the fashion industry. It focuses on the historical developments that have created the current industrial reality of unsustainable practices to provide an argument for the need for major cultural changes in consumption and commerce. The book enhances our understanding of what kind of change can support innovation aspects in business and policy towards sustainability."

    Kirsi Niinimäki, Associate Professor of Design, School of Arts, Design and Architecture, Aalto University, Finland

    "Anguelov continues to be a leading voice on sustainable fashion and a highly articulate critic of existing of the industry’s environmental platforms. In remarkable detail and with methodological rigor, he meticulously outlines apparel global supply chains from cotton fields to the fashion shops and retail outlets of the global economy. The picture that emerges is one in which we all bear some responsibility. This includes the young consumers intent on wearing the latest fashion trend promoted by their favorite influencer, to the government regulators incapable or willing to control the global industry.

    Anguelov saves his most biting critique for fast fashion executives who have built up this industry by aggressively promoting mass consumption and made billions by failing to pay the ‘social costs’ of public health damage, loss of bio diversity, and climate change. He calls out unacceptable claims by fashion brands for what they are: greenwashing. This includes H&M’s assertion that, by 2040, it will be climate positive by capturing more CO2 emissions than its core supply chain emits, a claim he calls ‘preposterous.’ Anguelov ends on a note of hope that concerned citizens, fashion consumers, and advocacy groups can use their political voice for policy change. This book is highly recommended for everyone concerned about our planet and interested in addressing the fast fashion sustainability crisis."

    Mark Anner

    Professor of Labor and Employment Relations, and Political Science

    Director, Center for Global Workers’ Rights

    Director, MPS Program in Labor and Global Workers’ Rights (part of the Global Labour University network)

    The Pennsylvania State University


    "This is a timely and valuable contribution to the burgeoning literature on fashion (un)sustainability. The author’s 2015 book was at the vanguard of the sustainable fashion movement as one of the first to shed light on the social and environmental cost of fast fashion, and this one is likewise a much-needed addition that makes sense of the wealth of information and publications that now exist. In recent years we have witnessed a surge in interest from multiple perspectives including the media, academia and grassroots organisations to name a few, resulting in a wealth of information, but also a fair amount of greenwash in one form or another. Sustainable fashion has become a buzzword. Fashion brands and retailers are increasingly sharing information about production and supply chain management, but meanwhile expanding their operations globally, speeding up the frequency of new collections and producing ever greater volumes of stock. Furthermore, a more nefarious form of fast fashion has emerged from a new breed of online-only ultra-fast fashion retailers who make heavy use of sophisticated digital marketing tactics to promote an ever-changing array of trendy items at pocket-money prices. As such, there is no topic on which a treatise is more needed to take stock of the current state of play and a look forward towards viable interventions in business, science and policy that could support a transition to a sustainable industry.

    This is an authoritative, detailed and evidenced work which takes a deep and critical dive into the paradoxes and complexities of (un)sustainable fashion. Written in an engaging style with numerous original perspectives, it is ideally suited to fashion students in a multitude of disciplines from design to marketing to textile engineering, as well as those working in the industry across various functions, and members of the general public who have an interest in the topic. The book clearly sets out the complex realities of the global fashion industry and explains the cultural, economic and political reasons for its social and environmental impacts in the key areas of waste, carbon footprint, pollution and exploitation. The arguments are critical, balanced and applied, using evidence from research across a range of relevant disciplines such as chemistry, material and environmental sciences, public policy, engineering, data management, marketing and finance – clearly showing that fashion is bigger that you may at first think and that sustainable solutions require multiple stakeholder inputs. For those who are interested to find out more, there is a wealth of references to both classic and recent important scholarship. The book concludes with a refreshingly critical analysis of specific interventions that could support a transition towards sustainability, such as business model innovation, circularity and forms of governance, including an honest consideration of the impact of COVID-19 on the willingness and ability of the sector to transform."

    Patsy Perry, Professor of Fashion Marketing at Manchester Fashion Institute, Manchester Metropolitan University


    "Nikolay Anguelov’s The Sustainable Fashion Quest is a rich account of how we have arrived at today’s crisis of fast fashion. Anguelov cuts through the greenwashing of well-known fashion brands, and by grounding the book in current research he lays out the issues of overproduction in a global context. An overview of legislative efforts and various self-regulation initiatives to tackle the crisis completes the book. Reading it invites the difficult, vital questions: how do we transition from a world in which insatiable greed drives fashion business, to one that puts Earth and her inhabitants, including all of humanity, first?"

    Dr. Timo Rissanen, Associate Professor of Fashion and Textiles, University of Technology Sydney