International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy (Jun 2022)

Tackling Overproduction? The Limits of Multistakeholder Initiatives in Fashion

  • Alice Payne,
  • Zoe Mellick

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 11, no. 2
pp. 30 – 46


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Within global value chains, multi-stakeholder initiatives (MSIs) have become the chief means to address the environmental sustainability concerns rife throughout fibre, textile and garment production. MSIs include a wide array of non-governmental organisations, voluntary sustainability standards and reporting tools. However, MSIs can be critiqued as an incremental rather than transformative approach to environmental sustainability, firmly embedded within a green-growth paradigm. This article examines the limits and opportunities of MSIs in aiding a systemic transformation for sustainability within the fashion system. By analysing fashion-specific MSIs at two time points, 2017 and 2021, we identify that while MSI membership is growing and a degree of consolidation and harmonisation is occurring, environmental gains are offset by unrelenting growth in production. Drawing upon principles of degrowth, we propose that a scenario in which an MSI construct could have transformative power is one in which overproduction is explicitly addressed.