Literature Review: On The Importance Of Sustainability

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Sustainability in recent years has been at the forefront of some of the most stimulating reflections on fashion, It is also the main topic of the second issue of the International Journal of Fashion Studies. (Mora et al., 2014) early debate on the topic date back to the decade of the 1980s which witnessed a fundamental change in the way government and development agencies thought about environment and development, 6 (Pezzey, 2003) and until today, sustainability topic had never been planned but only the fortuitous result of the peer-reviewing process. But “this coincidence is symptomatic of a significant trend in contemporary fashion” (Mora et al., 2014), affecting not only the whole ecosystem and industry but also both the consumers and the licensors. Furthermore, there are substantial searchable literature on why companies act in socially responsible ways, how they can identify, manage and measure the drivers of improved sustainability performance and the systems and structures that can be created to improve corporate social performance. Furthermore, and on definition of sustainability, the oxford dictionary defines it as “Avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance”. (sustainability, 2020) and according to international institute for sustainable development, Sustainability is the foundation for today’s leading global framework for international cooperation. (‘Sustainable Development Goals | IISD’, 2020) of course, Sustainable development has been defined in many ways, but Brundtland Report is the most frequently quoted definition. In his report presented to the UN general assembly in 1987, also known as “Our Common Future”, sustainable development is defined as ‘Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.’ (Brundtland report, 1987) Gro Harlem Brundtland was the former Prime Minister of Norway and the basis of his report goes back to 1983, where the world commission of environment and development was asked to formulate “A global agenda for change”, which was a mandate for change and the challenge of facing the future and safeguarding the interests of coming generations. (Brundtland Report, 1987). It contains within it two key concepts: 1) the concept of ‘needs’, in particular the essential needs of the world’s poor, to which overriding priority should be given; and 2) the idea of limitations imposed by the state of technology and social organization on the environment’s ability to meet present and future needs. (Brundtland Report, 1987) However, although it explains what is sustainability development, but it does not elaborate on how it can be achieved. The needs of the world’s poor, and poverty in general are a challenge of our modern world. Poverty entails more than the lack of income and productive resources to ensure sustainable livelihoods. Its manifestations include hunger and malnutrition, limited access to education and other basic services, social discrimination and exclusion as well as the lack of participation in decision-making. (‘Poverty Eradication | Poverty Eradication’, 2020).

In General all these information shows that sustainability is very important and somehow an unavoidable solution to many of our problems. Therefore, I would say, that sooner or later, we have no other way around to apply and implement it into our systems.

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On the issues of Avoiding Sustainability

Many company and industry codes of conducts are being established widely and rapidly in the apparel, toy, and footwear industries. The appropriate level of wages (living, minimum, or prevailing) and the desirability of the employment of children are issues that have caused significant dismay to Nike, Guess, Disney and many other well-known companies. (Epstein & Roy, 2001) . In 1991, as Nike© was rapidly growing, faced a major hurdle when a reporter, Jeff Ballinger, surfaced highlighting sweatshop conditions, low wages, and poor working conditions at a Nike subcontractor in Indonesia. later on, mid 1992 protest at the Barcelona Olympics, CBS’ 1993 interview of Nike factory workers, and Ballinger’s NGO ‘Press For Change’ provokes a wave of mainstream media attention (Business Insider, 2013) Until 1998, Nike faced lots of unrelenting criticism and began to realize that they need to change. The real shift begins with the May 1998 speech by then-CEO Phil Knight saying:

“The Nike product has become synonymous with slave wages, forced overtime, and arbitrary abuse,” Knight said. “I truly believe the American consumer doesn’t want to buy products made under abusive conditions.”

In 1999, Nike begins to create The Fair Labour Association, and in 2005 it becomes the first in its industry to publish a complete list of the factories it contracts with. Since then, the company continues to post its commitments, standards, and audit data as part of its corporate social responsibility reports (‘How Nike Solved Its Sweatshop Problem’, 2020) Therefore, it seems that sustainability is turning into an inevitable concept and value for the generations of mankind, whether implemented and met by UN 2030 Agenda for sustainable development as planned, or either via constraining and enforcement of nature crowbar against human being’s avarice and waste. Of course, going green for companies is a challenging change, however, the number one motivator for organizations to implement green projects is the image it presents to the public, as the organizations want their constituents, consumers, employees, stakeholders, and any other observers to view them as environmentally friendly (‘Why it’s time for businesses to go green’, 2020). As supporting evidence to this statement, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) conducted a survey-based research project together with BCG Consulting Group, in 2009, from more than 1,500 executives and managers worldwide. (Technology, 2020) The survey respondents cited the impact on a company’s image and brand as its paramount reasons for addressing sustainability, where company or brand image followed by the cost saving was identified by priority as the most important drivers. (‘Why it’s time for businesses to go green’, 2020)

The Lloyds TSB survey is also a very important source of secondary data to be reviewed, which was also reflected in a report published by Chartered Management Account (CGMA) has found that 70% of SMEs are adopting a sustainable approach in order to secure new business, while 54% are becoming sustainable to save money.

On the Sustainability Topic in Fashion and Licensed Fashion

Furthermore, in fashion, sustainability is increasingly becoming a core consideration for the apparel industry, affecting strategy, operations, workforce engagement, and connection to consumers and communities (Siegel et al., 2012), meanwhile, the phrase ‘fast fashion’ which refers to low-cost clothing collections that mimic current luxury fashion trends (Joy et al., 2012) meanwhile, the phrase ‘fast fashion’ which refers to low-cost clothing collections that mimic current luxury fashion trends (Joy et al., 2012) in some circles, “has become a proxy for a type of fashion that epitomizes ideas of unsustainability” (Fletcher, 2010) and from the other hand there is “slow fashion” movements, which today has becoming popular as ‘‘slow food’’ movement, and emphasizes on slow cooking methods (Gardetti & Muthu, n.d.) lastly, I would like to add that current fast fashion is dominant in the Apparel industry, leading into increased fashion trends, which is resulting in over-consumption by customers and waste.

On the Key Drivers of Sustainability

Relationship between sustainability and company performance must be studies as it affects the decision making of the manager once they understand the drivers of both costs and revenues and the required actions for affecting them. popular management frameworks like balance Scorecard and Value based Management (including shareholder value analysis and economic value added) rely on a better understanding of the drivers of value to aid managers in making decisions to improve corporate value creation. Kaplan and Norton have recently built on their previous work on the Balanced Scorecard with both a book on implementation and an article on how companies can develop strategy maps. (Kaplan & Norton, 2000) Further, recent work by Epstein and Westbrook has developed an Action-Profit Linkage model that focuses on better understanding the causal relationships and linkages within organizations and the levers that managers can pull to improve both customer and corporate profitability and improve corporate performance. (Epstein & Westbrook, 2000)

There are further variety of literature on sustainability topic that needs to be attended while completing this project.

  1. Epstein, M., & Roy, M. (2001). Sustainability in Action: Identifying and Measuring the Key Performance Drivers. Long Range Planning, 34(5), 585-604.
  2. Epstein & Westbrook., (2000) Linking actions to pro fits in strategic decision making, MIT Sloan Management Review Spring, (pp. 39 –49).
  3. Fromm, J. (2020). How Much Financial Influence Does Gen Z Have?. Forbes. Retrieved 16 June 2020, from
  4. Fletcher, K. (2010). Slow Fashion: An Invitation for Systems Change. Fashion Practice, 2(2), 259-265.×12774625387594
  5. Gardetti, M., & Muthu, S. Handbook of Sustainable Luxury Textiles and Fashion (2nd ed., pp. 148 – 168). Environmental Footprints and Eco-design of Products and Processes.
  6. Habits, 4. (2020). 4 Ways Gen Z Supports Green Companies | GreenMatch. Retrieved 14 June 2020, from
  7. How Nike Solved Its Sweatshop Problem. Business Insider. (2020). Retrieved 16 June 2020, from
  8. Joy, A., Sherry, J., Venkatesh, A., Wang, J., & Chan, R. (2012). Fast Fashion, Sustainability, and the Ethical Appeal of Luxury Brands. Fashion Theory, 16(3), 273-295.×13340749707123
  9. Kaplan & Norton., (2000) The Strategy-Focused Organization: How Balanced Scorecard Companies Thrive in the New Business Environment, Harvard Business School Press, Cambridge
  10. Kaplan & Norton., (2000) Having trouble with your strategy? Then map it, Harvard Business Review., (pp. 167 –176)
  11. Moore, K. (2020). Brands Leaning Into Sustainability On Earth Day 2020 Despite Current Challenges. Forbes. Retrieved 16 June 2020, from
  12. Mora, E., Rocamora, A., & Volonté, P. (2014). On the issue of sustainability in fashion studies. International Journal Of Fashion Studies, 1(2), 139-147.
  13. Pezzey, J. (2003). Journal search results – Cite This For Me. Environmental And Resource Economics, 26(2), 1-10, 45-50.
  14. Poverty Eradication | Poverty Eradication. (2020). Retrieved 16 June 2020, from
  15. Sicoli, G., Bronzetti, G., & Baldini, M. (2019). The Importance of Sustainability in the Fashion Sector: ADIDAS Case Study. International Business Research, 12(6), 41.
  16. Spindler, E. (2013). The History of Sustainability The Origins and Effects of a Popular Concept. Sustainability In Tourism, 9-31.
  17. Sustainable Development Goals | IISD. IISD. (2020). Retrieved 14 June 2020, from
  18. Technology, M. (2020). The Business of Sustainability. MIT Sloan Management Review. Retrieved 14 June 2020, from
  19. Why it’s time for businesses to go green. the Guardian. (2020). Retrieved 16 June 2020, from
  20. Why it’s time for businesses to go green. the Guardian. (2020). Retrieved 13 June 2020, from
  21. World Commission on Environment and Development. (1987). Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development: Our Common Future. Oslo.


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