The fashion industry has a significant impact on many spheres of people’s activity. It would be wrong to think that fashion influences only our apparel choices. It does much more than that: companies creating and producing clothes can alter the lives of people in both positive and negative ways. The apparel industry allows customers to feel ethical and aesthetic satisfaction. Also, it employs many people, which is good for their wellbeing as they feel needed and have an opportunity to sustain their lives. However, along with the good things, the industry also makes an adverse impact on society. The unsustainability of most fashion companies brings a lot of harm to the environment. The use of natural resources in production and too much waste make the industry rather harmful and unsociable. Under these circumstances, the emergence of companies that combine creating fashionable things with taking care of the environment and society is an opportunity to create positive change.
Carmina Campus was a pioneer in implementing fashion sustainability in their production process. Therefore, it is necessary to analyze the company’s policy regarding society, which will allow applying similar methods in other fashion companies. The research proposal aims at identifying the role of Carmina Campus in creating a productive relation between fashion and society.
My interest in Carmina Campus is connected with the project’s sustainability endeavors. Modern society has many environmental problems some of which are caused by the fashion industry (Jung and Jin 510). Designers should take into account how much damage their production and selling process brings to the environment. The exploitation of toxic materials, overuse of natural resources, and producing a considerable amount of waste are the damaging outcomes of fashion industry working process (Jung and Jin 510). While apparel designers realize that they should do something to eliminate the adverse outcomes of their activity, most of them continue to cause harm to nature. However, Carmina Campus was a pioneer of sustainable fashion design. This project drew my interest because it combines sustainability goals with social improvements.
Carmina Campus is an Italian company presenting some of the greatest modernization principles in fashion sustainability. The company was launched as an experiment, but soon its founder realized that it was turning into a productive business demonstrating how sustainability can be introduced into the fashion industry (Mukai, ITC in Action 30). Carmina Campus was founded by an Italian designer Ilaria Venturini Fendi who used to work for a respectable Fendi fashion house (Mukai, ITC in Action 29). However, in 2001, Venturini Fendi left the company and started living on a farm where she was “in harmony with nature” (Mukai, ITC in Action 29-30). The designer noted the importance of sustainability in all aspects of people’s lives: energy resources, agriculture, and food production. In 2006, Venturini Fendi was invited to support a university project in Cameroon. During her visit, she got an idea of starting a new sustainable business. The designer initiated cooperation with Cameroon women who knitted headwear and accessories (Mukai, ITC in Action 30). Venturini Fendi started the production of bags from reused materials, and she engaged Cameroon women in her project. Thus, the ideology of Carmina Campus was concerned with environmental awareness and social advancement. Venturini Fendi’s project utilized pieces of discarded fabric to create high-quality adornments made by hand. Each step of the project production – marketing, storage, and delivery – corresponded to the environmentally sustainable code of conduct delineated by Venturini Fendi (Mukai, ITC in Action 30). Along with bearing ecological responsibility, the project was aimed at enhancing the social program.
I am interested in this area because Venturini Fendi managed to do something extremely significant – she organized cooperation between fashion and society by launching her company. Apart from having fantastic creative skills, the designer takes care of the environment and supports unprivileged people by allowing them to work. Carmina Campus is a perfect example of how fashion sustainability can be put into action with progressive outcomes. Another positive thing about this issue is that it inspires others to follow its example. Such notorious corporations as Walmart and Coop Italia, as well as famous designers Stella McCartney and Vivienne Westwood, joined the Carmina Campus initiative to support African women (Mukai, Fashion 14). These organizations and fashion house owners give people work and guarantee a proper reward for the job they are doing. Their major endeavor is not to promote ethnic design but rather to allow reaching something for the people who need it most. Carmina Campus managed to make fashion closer to social problems, and that is why I am interested in this company and its projects.
As it was mentioned in the thesis statement, the research proposal aims to analyze the role of Carmina Campus in creating a positive connection between the fashion industry and society. To do this, it is necessary to answer the following research questions:
- To what extent is people’s awareness about the relation between fashion and society developed?
- How does the Carmina Campus manage to integrate care about society in the fashion industry?
The research hypothesizes that people who receive an educational intervention about Carmina Campus will be more environmentally and socially conscious. To analyze the research questions and check the hypothesis, an experiment with the intervention will be performed. The experiment will consist of three phases: pre-experiment, experiment (intervention), and post-experiment phase. The pre- and post-experiment phases are needed to check the efficacy of the experiment. Fifty participants will take part in the experiment. People will be divided into two groups: experimental (25 participants) and control (25 participants).
Both groups will be asked to answer pre-experiment interview questions to find out about their awareness of the relation between fashion and society. Then, an educational intervention will be performed for the experimental group. This intervention will get the participants acquainted with the activity of Carmina Campus, its founder, and the contribution which the company is making to the society. The intervention aims to enhance people’s environmental education and consciousness.
The education about Carmina Campus will include the basic information about the company, its founder, and its main projects. The participants will learn that the core emphasis in Carmina Campus is put on its attitude to sustainability. The founder of Carmina Campus does not consider sustainable fashion as merely a way of satisfying critical clients (Ricchetti and Frisa 86). Venturini Fendi finds sustainability an inseparable component of portraying brand values. The motto of the project is “creating without destroying” (Ricchetti and Frisa 85). Carmina Campus occupies a significant place both in the fashion industry and in the sustainability realm.
Also, the educational program will contain information about Venturini Fendi’s significant contribution to the reduction of poverty in Africa. The designer emphasizes the importance of providing people with a possibility to earn money instead of organizing charity venues which cannot give the disadvantaged individuals a stable income. It should be mentioned that Carmina Campus’ bags are expensive, but the reason for this is that the money earned is spent on fair payment to the artisans whose exquisite talent is used in the production process (Ricchetti and Frisa 86). It takes a lot of time to produce handmade items. Therefore, people are paid accordingly. Another justification of the bags’ price is that each piece is unique, and consumers value such things. Venturini Fendi makes it possible for the buyers to get acquainted with the duration of the production process by supplying each bag with the information about the amount of time spent on making it (Ricchetti and Frisa 87).
The participants will be informed that Carmina Campus’ principle of transparency makes it different from other producers. While many enterprises tend to conceal the information about their materials and production process to avoid the consumers’ disapproval, Carmina Campus emphasizes its environmental friendliness and support of disadvantaged people by indicating the hours of work and materials used (Ricchetti and Frisa 87). The fact that the bags are made of recycled materials raises the customers’ interest in buying them. The list of the materials is extensive and diverse: computer keyboards, shower curtains, bottle tops, and many other unique pieces are engaged in the process of the bag creating. Each bag’s label, just as the bag itself, is one of a kind. The labels are customized and written by hand and are like “identity cards” for the products they accompany (Ricchetti and Frisa 87).
Another asset of Carmina Campus projects is that they evoke consumer awareness in the buyers. The participants will be informed that modern fashion design collections sometimes do not correspond to the customers’ social and environmental awareness. People no longer put luxury in the first place. They want the items they buy to be eco-friendly and send a message of sustainability. The approach of Carmina Campus is focused on the culture of sustainability and thorough stylistic research (Ricchetti and Frisa 90). The mechanism of creating items is based on researching the stylistic and aesthetic capacity of reused materials. The production incorporates various material combinations and, as a result, is time-consuming. People involved in the production process have high skills and an excellent degree of creativity along with the desire to experiment (Ricchetti and Frisa 91).
The participants should also be informed about the consumers’ major decision-making preferences: sustainable consumption and ethical consumption (Goworek et al. 936). People driven by these principles tend to base their purchase choices not only on personal preferences but also on environmental considerations (Goworek et al. 935). As Goworek et al. mention, consumers are not entirely aware of the harm to the environment caused by wrong choices of the materials (943). Thus, people’s pro-environmental conduct is rarely intentional, and frequently it was merely a reaction to some outer impact
Another important thing to include in the educational intervention it the Five-R framework for sustainable fashion supply management (Ho and Choi 168). The framework consists of such components as reducing, reusing, recycling, re-designing, and re-imagining (Ho and Choi 168-169).
After the intervention, both groups will be asked to answer post-experiment questions regarding the ways of enhancing the adverse impact of the fashion industry on society and the environment. Some questions will be the same as in the pre-experimental phase, but the answers of the experimental group are expected to be different this time. The experimental group is expected to cope with the last phase better than the control group. The hypothesis is expected to be proved.
Each participant’s interview protocol will be assigned a code, and the participants’ names will not be revealed. In the post-experiment questionnaire, participants will insert their code for the consistency of the experiment. The age and sex of participants will be taken into consideration to make conclusions about the difference in fashion preferences and awareness among men and women and various age groups.
To complete the research project, it is necessary to create a detailed plan including the steps of the project. The action plan will comprise ten steps starting with a literature review and following through several phases. The final phase will incorporate the analysis of all obtained results which will give a possibility to evaluate the success of the research and notice the gaps which should be taken into consideration in the further studies.
The project will consist of four milestones which are planned to be performed between May and August of 2017. This time will be enough to find the participants, conduct the interviews and the intervention, and collect and analyze the results. Since the research is going to consist of several phases, the participants will need to provide their email address for the research designer to be able to contact them at every stage. All participants can be contacted via the internet. The Control group will be requested to answer two questionnaires (pre- and post-experiment), and the experimental group will answer the questionnaires but also take part in an educational program.
The research will have a qualitative character as is aims at collecting and analyzing people’s attitudes and awareness of some social issues. Qualitative research makes it possible to find an understanding of people’s conduct. Gathering information in this type of research is performed in textual form. Qualitative research is possible to be organized in several stages and allows personal communication with the participants.
Inductive reasoning will be employed in the study. It presupposes the development of a hypothesis and looking for a behavioral pattern in the data collected from the participants. However, since the proposal has a hypothesis, there will be a certain degree of deductive reasoning in the research. An indication of productive research is an identified problem of investigation. The current research has outlined a problem of identifying the role of Carmina Campus in creating a productive relation between fashion and society. To investigate the problem, research will include education about Carmina Campus in the experimental group. However, both groups (experimental and control) will be requested to share their environmental ideas and will be encouraged to share their opinions on sustainable fashion and its relation to social issues.
The initial and final parts of the research will be not very long and will last for several weeks each. However, the second phase – educational intervention – needs more time, and is expected to last for two months. The experimental group participants will receive educational materials via email two times every week and will be requested to get acquainted with them. They will get acquainted with the history of the company, its projects, and environmental endeavors. Also, the experimental group will receive information about the Five-R analysis framework and consumer’s decision-making preferences. At the final stage of the project, the experimental group is expected to show a much better understanding of the connection between fashion and society and the role of Carmina Campus is fashion sustainability.
The action plan and timeline of the project, as well as a graphic of milestones, are provided below.
Action Plan of the project
- Literature review.
- Creating a proposal plan.
- Designing pre-interview and post-interview questionnaires.
- Choosing participants.
- Conducting the pre-experiment interview.
- Analyzing the results of the pre-experiment interview.
- Performing the intervention in the experimental group.
- Conducting the post-experiment interview.
- Analyzing the results of the post-experiment interview.
- Comparing the outcomes of pre- and post-experiment results.
Timeline of the Project
- Milestone 1. May 2017 – choosing the participants, conducting the pre-experiment.
- Milestone 2. June-July 2017 – conducting an intervention for the experimental group.
- Milestone 3. August 2017 (1st part) – conducting the post-experiment.
- Milestone 4. August 2017 (2nd part) – analyzing the results, checking the hypothesis.
Goworek, Helen, et al. “The Sustainable Clothing Market: An Evaluation of Potential Strategies for UK Retailers.” International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, vol. 40, no. 12, 2012, pp. 935-955.
Ho, Holly Pui-Yan, and Tsan-Ming Choi. “A five-R analysis for Sustainable Fashion Supply Chain Management in Hong Kong: A Case Analysis.” Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management, vol. 16, no. 2, 2012, pp. 161-175.
Jung, Sojin, and Byoungho Jin. “A Theoretical Investigation of Slow Fashion: Sustainable Future of the Apparel Industry.” International Journal of Consumer Studies, vol. 38, no, 5, 2014, pp. 510-519.
Mukai, Chloé. “Fashion: A catalyst for change.” International Trade Forum, vol. 4, 2011, pp. 12-15.
—. “ITC in Action: Carmina Campus.” International Trade Forum, vol. 3, 2009, pp. 29-30.
Ricchetti, Marco, and Maria Luisa Frisa. The Beautiful and the Good: Reasons for Sustainable Fashion. Marsilio, 2012.
Appendix 1. Pre-Experiment Interview Protocol
- State your age.
- State your sex.
- Please, put down your email (it will not be announced to any third parties; it will only be used to contact you for the further project phases).
- How would you characterize your apparel preferences?
- Do you care much about where the clothes come from?
- When buying clothes, do you inquire about their production process?
- Does it matter to you where the clothes are made?
- Does it matter to you whether the materials used for your clothes are natural?
- Do you ever buy second-hand clothes? If so, what is the main motive for such a purchase (lower price, care about the environment, etc.)?
- Do you think any designers are working in developing countries? Why?
- In what way, do you think, can people from the developing countries get involved in the fashion industry?
- How often do you change your wardrobe?
- What do you do with the clothes you no longer need?
- Have you ever donated clothes to any charity organization?
- Have you ever considered the idea of reusing clothes for other purposes?
- Do you think reuse in the fashion industry is a good idea? Why?
- What do you know about the Five-R analysis framework for sustainable fashion supply management?
- Do you know about any designers who employ a sustainability approach in their production?
- Do you think that fashion companies care enough about the environment? Which phase of the production process, in your opinion, requires most resources and produces the most waste?
Appendix 2. Post-Experiment Interview Protocol
- What have you learned about the designers who employ sustainability approach in their production within the last two months?
- What have you learned about the Five-R analysis framework for sustainable fashion supply management?
- Which element of the Five-R analysis framework do you find most important?
- How can the welfare of people in the developing countries be improved with the help of fashion industry?
- What principles of sustainability can designers employ in the production process and supply chain management?