Sustainability represents a central issue for the fashion industry. Indeed, if on the one hand, this sector is facing a growing demand on a global basis, on the other hand, it receives growing pressures to be more environmentally friendly and socially responsible. The worldwide textile production has more than doubled in the last decades, but the UN Framework Convention about the climate change claims that the industry generates more greenhouse gas emissions than those generated by the international maritime shipping and the aviation sectors together. Importantly, fashion consumers, in particular millennials and those belonging to the Z-Generation, are increasingly more interested in sustainability and thus increasingly expect apparel brands to sell products produced in a responsible way. In this study we investigate the appeal of sustainability in the fashion business. In particular, we shed light on how the role of sustainability may change depending on consumers’ approach to luxury, which essentially refers to whether consumers buy luxury goods mainly for status or mainly for personal style. We propose that consumers’ willingness to buy sustainable apparel products is affected by the type of fashion brand, that is, fast fashion versus luxury fashion. Results of our empirical analysis conducted using the experimental design method show that, in the apparel context, sustainability is more appealing to consumers who buy luxury mainly for personal style when it is associated with a luxury brand, while it is more appealing to consumers who buy luxury mainly for status when sustainability is associated with a fast-fashion brand. Implications of our work for theory and practice are also discussed.
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