When Women Owe Women: Framing Consumer Responsibility in the Context of Fast Fashion


The consumer is an important political subject in addressing global social issues, especially in the fashion industry. Due to the complex, multi-jurisdictional nature of the problems created through global capitalism, a significant overhaul of the fashion industry is not easy to achieve; nor is it easy for consumers to choose to withdraw from these markets. Further, framing individual consumer responsibility is difficult, especially when considering how questions of obligation intersect with geographical hierarchies as well as questions of privilege.

In this paper, we critique how responsibility is framed in contemporary fashion activism in relation to questions of gender. Using the organisation Fashion Revolution as a site of normative consumer activism, we highlight how two hashtag campaigns, #WhoMadeMyClothes and #LovedClothesLast, instrumentalise gender to engage consumers to act against injustice. Through our analysis, we question how calls to take up responsibility for fashion injustice intersect with profound questions about what women owe other women.

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Except where otherwise noted, content in this journal is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Published: 2022-06-03
Pages:116 to 128
Section:Special Issue: Fashion Justice
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How to Cite
Horton , K. ., Street , P. . and O’Brien , E. . (2022) “When Women Owe Women: Framing Consumer Responsibility in the Context of Fast Fashion”, International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy, 11(2), pp. 116-128. doi: 10.5204/ijcjsd.2356.

Author Biographies

Queensland University of Technology

Kathleen Horton is a design educator at the Queensland University of Technology. Through her teaching and her research she explores the aesthetics and the politics and poetics of getting dressed each day. Her current research explores the fashion consumption practices of young Australian people. 

Queensland University of Technology

Paige Street is a research assistant and sessional academic at the Queensland University of Technology. Her research intersects political science, sustainability, ethics and feminism by looking at the how the gendered, raced and classed aspects of fashion inform its use as a political platform. 

Queensland University of Technology

Dr Erin O’Brien is Associate Professor and Australian Research Council DECRA Fellow in the Centre for Justice, Queensland University of Technology, Australia. Her research examines the shifting responsibilities of the state, consumers, investors and corporate actors to address modern slavery and other complex global issues.