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Slow fashion in three fast minutes


Slow fashion in three fast minutes

Buying too much stuff you don’t really need? Think that $5 t-shirt is saving you money?

University of Auckland PhD researcher Miriam Seifert says it’s time for the fashion industry to slow down, and she can tell you why in only three minutes.

Miriam is the 2017 Doctoral Winner of the University of Auckland’s 3 Minute Thesis competition, which challenges postgraduate students to explain their research to a general audience in 180 seconds.

“We have all made purchases in the past that we regretted, or bought something that we didn’t really need. We are seemingly caught in this vicious cycle where we buy too many unnecessary goods,” Miriam says.

Based in the Business School’s Department of Management and International Business, her thought-provoking presentation explains how being an anti-consumer can help a firm to strategically achieve a competitive advantage.

She interviewed 50 clothing companies around the world for her research which explores how firms make money by asking consumers to buy less.

“Clothing has become so affordable that as consumers we think that when we spend $5 on a t-shirt that we are saving money. But we are overlooking the real cost of making clothes. Fast fashion companies externalise these costs by shifting production to low cost countries and by putting downward pressure on working conditions and environmental standards.”

The results can be deadly, as demonstrated by the Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh which killed 1129 clothing factory workers.

The solution, Miriam says, is to change the behaviour of firms, not just the behaviour of consumers.

Slow fashion businesses concentrate on slowing down production, and invite consumers to rethink their purchasing behaviour and consume more consciously.

Miriam will now take her message to ‘slow down’ to the 2017 Trans-Tasman 3 Minute Thesis competition to be held in Brisbane on 29 September.

Also competing in Brisbane is Akshat Shah from the Faculty Science, who won the Masters category. His talk titled Nosey Speech explored interventions for children with cleft palate speech disorders.

PhD students from 55 of the best institutions across Australia, New Zealand, Northeast and Southeast Asia are participating in the 2017 Asia-Pacific 3MT, which will be broadcast live online.

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