Culture

The successes and limitations of Appalachian secondhand clothing businesses operating as sustainable fashion enterprises

Authors
  • Melissa Chasko Turner (West Virginia University)
  • Katie Baker Jones (West Virginia University)

Abstract

Frequently discussed in conversations on the social and environmental harms of extractive economies, poverty, addiction, cultural conservatism, and poor educational outcomes, Appalachia is perhaps one of the last places one would expect sustainable fashion initiatives to thrive. However, it is in such places where sustainability initiatives are both most needed and can have significant impact on communities. Advocates have been trying to steer Appalachia away from coal and fossil fuels and toward green investments, but large-scale opportunities have been slow to materialize. Many community leaders have shifted away from enticing modern industry to come to the region, focusing instead on fostering and developing small enterprises deeply rooted in Appalachia as a distinct place. Micro and small businesses will be central to any shift the region makes towards a more sustainable (fashion) future. We explore the ways in which one space is engaging with and disseminating sustainability messaging in Appalachian communities: small, independently run, vintage clothing stores. We offer insights into the lived experience of operating rural, sustainability-oriented small businesses in communities with complex historical and socio-economic contexts that may undermine or complicate sustainable fashion initiatives.

Keywords: Phenomenology, sustainability, rural business development

How to Cite:

Turner, M. C. & Jones, K. B., (2024) “The successes and limitations of Appalachian secondhand clothing businesses operating as sustainable fashion enterprises”, International Textile and Apparel Association Annual Conference Proceedings 80(1). doi: https://doi.org/10.31274/itaa.17085

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Published on
20 Jan 2024
Peer Reviewed