Solving the puzzle of sustainable fashion consumption: the role of consumers’ implicit attitudes and perceived warmth

Laura Grazzini, Diletta Acuti, Gaetano Aiello

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    The fashion industry has been recognized as one of the major industries that contribute to environmental damage. Although fashion companies have started to take some actions aimed at protecting the environment, how consumers make purchasing decisions about sustainable fashion products is a lingering question. This research thus investigates the effect of sustainable product attributes (i.e., recycled materials) on consumers’ purchase intention toward luxury and fast fashion products.

    Drawing from the social judgment theory, we propose that sustainability leads to higher consumers’ purchase intentions and that this effect is explained by the activation of perceived warmth. Three studies provide support for this assertation. Specifically, sustainable product attributes (i.e., recycled materials) affect positively the purchase intentions and this effect is magnified in the case of fast fashion products (Study 1). Consumers show more positive implicit attitudes when sustainability is paired with luxury than with fast fashion (Study 2). Finally, sustainability activates higher levels of perceived warmth which, in turn, affects consumers’ purchase intentions towards fast fashion products (Study 3). This research provides insightful theoretical implications by enclosing the psychological mechanism (i.e., perceived warmth) behind the relationship between sustainability and consumers’ purchase intentions. The paper also offers actionable levers on how to communicate sustainable initiatives to strengthen the consumer-brand relationship.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number125579
    Number of pages9
    JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
    Early online date18 Dec 2020
    Publication statusPublished - 10 Mar 2021


    • Luxury
    • Fast fashion
    • Sustainability
    • Perceived warmth
    • Implicit association test (IAT)


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