Tackling Overproduction? The Limits of Multistakeholder Initiatives in Fashion


Within global value chains, multi-stakeholder initiatives (MSIs) have become the chief means to address the environmental sustainability concerns rife throughout fibre, textile and garment production. MSIs include a wide array of non-governmental organisations, voluntary sustainability standards and reporting tools. However, MSIs can be critiqued as an incremental rather than transformative approach to environmental sustainability, firmly embedded within a green-growth paradigm. This article examines the limits and opportunities of MSIs in aiding a systemic transformation for sustainability within the fashion system. By analysing fashion-specific MSIs at two time points, 2017 and 2021, we identify that while MSI membership is growing and a degree of consolidation and harmonisation is occurring, environmental gains are offset by unrelenting growth in production. Drawing upon principles of degrowth, we propose that a scenario in which an MSI construct could have transformative power is one in which overproduction is explicitly addressed.

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Published: 2022-06-03
Pages:30 to 46
Section:Special Issue: Fashion Justice
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How to Cite
Payne, A. . and Mellick, Z. (2022) “Tackling Overproduction? The Limits of Multistakeholder Initiatives in Fashion”, International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy, 11(2), pp. 30-46. doi: 10.5204/ijcjsd.2424.

Author Biography

Queensland University of Technology

Dr Alice Payne is an Associate Professor in Fashion in the School of Design, Queensland University of Technology. Her research focuses on environmental and social sustainability issues throughout the life cycle of clothing.  She is author of the book Designing Fashion’s Future, co-editor of Global Perspectives on Sustainable Fashion, and is an award-winning designer and educator.