This research investigates CSR communication within the current global fashion industry and provides in-depth insights into the coherency of sustainability images of fashion brands across two main channels: social media and CSR reports. Nowadays, fashion brands are largely expected to include CSR in their business model. Simultaneously, the fashion industry has received sceptic views regarding sustainability efforts; in particular an increasing number of issues with greenwashing and bluewashing has come to light in recent years. With limited literature available on green- and bluewashing, specifically within this industry, this research aims to contribute to the academic field, evaluating sincerity of CSR communication on social media. The case study analysed six fashion brands which have been separated into “sustainability focused brands” and “sales focused brands”. Through a qualitative thematic content analysis on Facebook a sustainability image was formed. These images have been compared to the images created by CSR reports. By examining the coherency between the two, the aim of this approach was to obtain insights into the sincerity of CSR communication provided by North American and European fashion brands. The results demonstrate that the initial categorization into sales and sustainability focused brands does not fit the data. Rather, three classifications have been formed holding a certain degree of coherency between its social media image and CSR report image. First, two sustainability focused brands showed strong credibility for its sustainability efforts, aiming for a societal change as well as industry change. Second, two sales focused brands illustrated questionable motives for their CSR efforts, depicting a self-centred approach towards sustainability. Third, the last pair of brands were placed in a middle category, showing signs of sincere motivations for sustainable change that has been communicated in defective ways. Interestingly, this last pair consisted of a sustainability and sales focused brand. Moreover, the study highlights both the lack of sustainability frameworks as well as the lack of greenwashing and bluewashing frameworks and proposes future research to develop clear and binding regulations for fashion brands that aim for sustainability.

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Opree, S.
Media & Business
Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication

Be, Amy. (2019, July). The “green” cut and sew Examining greenwashing and bluewashing on social media within the global fashion industry. Media & Business. Retrieved from