As cheap as humanly possible – Consumer behaviour and ethical consumption in a fast fashion world

a person in a red dress holding an H and M bag, phone and handbag walking down a street

a person in a red dress holding an H and M bag, phone and handbag walking down a street

This study explores ethical consumerism and how, in a fast fashion world, ethical consumption influences purchase behaviour. Considered one of the largest disrupters to the retail industry, fast fashion has revolutionised the fashion world. The introduction of fast fashion retailers such as Zara, H&M and Topshop has changed the way we produce and consume clothing, resulting in rapid over production, lower prices and an increase in fashion seasons, encouraging rapid turnover of clothing items and trends.


The rise and success of fast fashion can be largely attributed to supply chain innovation. Highly agile, rapid response supply chains allow fast fashion retailers to respond to consumer demand and rapidly changing trends. Modern fashion consumption and the rise of ‘fast-fashion’ has shifted consumer purchasing behaviour towards items of little perceived value with small economic and psychological investment required.


The contemporary fashion business model, while highly successful, has been criticised for its embracing of obsolescence, encouraging over consumption and its unsustainable business practices. Allegations of rapid overproduction, worker exploitation and opaque supply chains has led to both industry, consumer and government criticism towards fast fashion retailers, and subsequent legislative changes, consumer outcry and media criticism.

Chief Investigators