Examining the structure of the fashion industry in Ghana in ensuring the successful adoption of sustainable approach

Main Article Content

Akosua Mawuse Amankwah
Edward Appiah
Charles Frimpong
Anthony Kent


The structure of the fashion industry in various geographical regions, along with its production history and practices, plays a pivotal role in shaping the adoption and implementation of sustainable strategies. This study examines the fashion industry’s structure in Ghana as a fundamental step in considering the adoption and implementation of sustainable strategies. To facilitate the selection of respondents for this preliminary study, we employed a Google survey, utilizing a snowball technique to identify participations in the two major cities in Ghana. The survey specifically targeted fashion producers operating within the small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with retail outlets. Collected data from Google Forms were collated with Microsoft Excel and subsequently analyzed. The findings unveiled that young businesses often operate as sole proprietorship, with their founders serving as lead designers, primarily selling directly to end users. While previous studies have documented similar findings, this study connects these observations to the adoption of sustainable strategies in businesses where where owners, who also serve as creative heads, make significant decisions that can influence the practice of sustainable strategies. Furthermore, the study highlights that sustainability and sustainable practices are relatively new to SMEs in Ghana. It recommends further research to gauge the awareness and willingness to adopt circular strategies, given the industry towards industrialization.

Article Details

How to Cite
Amankwah, A. M., Appiah, E., Frimpong, C., & Kent, A. . (2023). Examining the structure of the fashion industry in Ghana in ensuring the successful adoption of sustainable approach. Sustinere: Journal of Environment and Sustainability, 7(2), 161–175. https://doi.org/10.22515/sustinere.jes.v7i2.304
Author Biographies

Edward Appiah, Dept. Communication Design, Faculty of Art. Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana

Coming from Design background, Edward Appiah had his doctorate degree in Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Cape Town (South Africa), with a research in Technology in Education. He headed the Department of Communication Design, KNUST for four years; later as the Coordinator, Research and Postgraduate Studies in the department; Vice Dean, Faculty of Art, KNUST; currently the Africa Regional Coordinator for Design for Social Innovation and Sustainability  (DESIS) a network of design labs, based in design and design-oriented universities, involved in transforming education through design minds and design-oriented activities and also the Director-General, National Council for Curriculum and Assessment; a member of the Ghana Education Service Council and Board Member, National Teacher Council.

Charles Frimpong, Dept. of Industrial Art, Faculty of Art. Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana

Charles Frimpong is an Associate Professor in Textiles at the Department of Industrial Art of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology where he has taught for over 20years. His research interest and publications cover advances in Industrial Textile Production Methods, Indigenous Textiles and Fashion. In 2014, he was awarded the ITAA Janet Else Visiting Scholar Award in Charlotte, North Carolina for his dedication and excellence in the teaching and training of students in the area of Textiles and Fashion

Anthony Kent, School of Art & Design, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham United Kingdom

Professor Kent holds a degree in Modern History from Oxford University, an MBA, and PhD from the University of the Arts London. He joined Nottingham Trent University in 2013 as Professor of Fashion Marketing. His current research interests are in the convergence between digital and physical environments with a focus on fashion retailing and his second area of interest is in sustainable fashion.

Professor Kent has delivered academic papers at a wide range of conferences including Fashion Colloquia, Design Management International, EURAM and the British Academy of Management. He is Chair of the Research Committee of the International Foundation for Fashion Technology Institutions. His most recent publication is “Understanding Personalisation†with Tom Fisher and Iryna Kuksa,  published by Elsevier in 2022.


Allwood, J. M., Laursen, S. E., Rodríguez, C. M. de, & Nancy M P Bocken. (2006). Well dressed? The present and future sustainability of clothing and textile in the United Kingdom: Technical annex (Issue November). https://www.ifm.eng.cam.ac.uk/insights/sustainability/well-dressed/

Ates, A., & Bititci, U. (2011). Change process: a key enabler for building resilient SMEs. International Journal of Production Research, 49(18), 601-5618. https://doi.org/10.1080/00207543.2011.563825

Bhamra, T. (2013). Institutional Repository Sustainability: Methods and practices. In S. Walker, J. Giard, & H. Walker (Eds.), Handbook of Design for Sustainability. Bloomsbury Publishing.

Bhardwaj, V., & Fairhurst, A. (2010). Fast fashion: Response to changes in the fashion industry. The International Review of Retail, Distribution and Consumer Research, 20(1), 165–173. https://doi.org/10.1080/09593960903498300

Bick, R., Halsey, E., & Ekenga, C. C. (2018). The global environmental injustice of fast fashion. Environmental Health: A Global Access Science Source, 17(1), 1–4. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12940-018-0433-7

Bocken, N. M. P., Short, S. W., Rana, P., & Evans, S. (2014). A literature and practice review to develop sustainable business model archetypes. Journal of Cleaner Production, 65, 42–56. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2013.11.039

Boone, T. (2009). Sustainable Fashion and Textiles: Design Journeys by Kate Fletcher (Earthscan, 2008). Fashion Practice, 1(2), 271–274. https://doi.org/10.2752/175693809X469229

Claxton, S., & Kent, A. (2020). The management of sustainable fashion design strategies: An analysis of the designer’s role. Journal of Cleaner Production, 268, 122112. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2020.122112

Claxton, S., & Kent, A. (2017). Design management of sustainable fashion. EURAM 2017, University of Strathclyde Business School, Glasgow, Scotland, 21-24 June 2017, 1–40. https://irep.ntu.ac.uk/id/eprint/31499/1/PubSub9888_9010_Kent.pdf

Cohen, L., Manion, L., & Morrison, K. (2007). Research Methods in Education. Routledge.

Cooper, T., Hil, H., Kininmonth, J., Townsend, K., & Hughes, M. (2013). Design for Longevity: Guidance on increasing the active life of clothing.

Curwen, L. G., Park, J., & Sarkar, A. K. (2013). Challenges and Solutions of Sustainable Apparel Product Development: A Case Study of Eileen Fisher. Clothing and Textiles Research Journal, 31(1), 32–47. https://doi.org/10.1177/0887302X12472724

DEFRA. (2011). Sustainable Clothing Roadmap: Progress Report 2011. In Progress Report 2011. https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/69299/pb13461-clothing-actionplan-110518.pdf

Ellen MacArthur Foundation. (2010). Towards the Circular Economy. https://www.aquafil.com/assets/uploads/ellen-macarthur-foundation.pdf. Accessed on 18-06-2020

Ellen MacArthur Foundation. (2015). Towards The Circular Economy Economic and Business Rationale for an Accelerated Transition. https://ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/towards-a-circular-economy-business-rationale-for-an-accelerated-transition

Environmental Audit Committee. (2019). Fixing Fashion: Clothing consumption and sustainability clothing consumption and sustainability. https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cmselect/cmenvaud/1952/report - summary.html%0Ahttps://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cmselect/cmenvaud/1 952/full-report.html

Ghana Statistical Service. (2015). Integrated Business Establishment Survey: Summary Report. https://searchworks.stanford.edu/view/11920261

Gwilt, A., & Rissanen, T. (2011). Shaping Sustainable Fashion: Changing the way we make and wear clothes. Earthscan.

Hur, E., & Cassidy, T. (2019). Perceptions and attitudes towards sustainable fashion design: challenges and opportunities for implementing sustainability in fashion. International Journal of Fashion Design, Technology and Education, 12(2), 208–217. https://doi.org/10.1080/17543266.2019.1572789

IFC. (2012). IFC and Small and Medium Enterprises AT A GLANCE. https://www.ifc.org/wps/wcm/connect/277d1680486a831abec2fff995bd23db/AM11IFC+Is sueBrief_SME.pdf?MOD=AJPERES

Japan International Cooperation Agency. (2008). The Study on Promotion and Development of Local Industries in the Republic of Ghana.

Karell, E., & Niinimäki, K. (2020). A mixed-method study of design practices and designers’ roles in sustainable-minded clothing companies. Sustainability (Switzerland), 12(11). https://doi.org/10.3390/su12114680

Kimelberg, S. M., & Williams, E. (2013). Evaluating the Importance of Business Location Factors: The Influence of Facility Type. Growth and Change: A Journal of Urban and Regional Policy, 44(1), 92–117. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1111/grow.12003

Kirchherr, J., Reike, D., & Hekkert, M. (2017). Conceptualizing the circular economy: An analysis of 114 definitions. Resources, Conservation and Recycling, 127(April), 221–232. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.resconrec.2017.09.005

Koszewska, M. (2018). Circular Economy - Challenges for the Textile and Clothing Industry. Autex Research Journal, 18(4), 337–347. https://doi.org/10.1515/aut-2018-0023

Kozlowski, A., Bardecki, M., & Searcy, C. (2019). Tools for sustainable fashion design: An analysis of their fitness for purpose. Sustainability (Switzerland), 11(13), 1–19. https://doi.org/10.3390/su11133581

Kozlowski, A., Searcy, C., & Bardecki, M. (2016). Innovation for a sustainable fashion industry: A design focused approach toward the development of new business models. In S. S. Muthu & M. A. Gardetti (Eds.), Green Fashion: Environmental Footprints and Eco-Design of Products and Processes (pp. 151–169). https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-10-0245-8_5

Kozlowski, A., Searcy, C., & Bardecki, M. (2018). The reDesign canvas: Fashion design as a tool for sustainability. Journal of Cleaner Production, 183, 194–207. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2018.02.014

Lehmann, M., Tärnberg, S., Tochtermann, T., Chalmer, C., Eder-Hansen, J., Seara, D. J. F., Boger, S., Hase, C., Berlepsch, V. von, & Deichmann, S. (2018). The Pulse of the Fashion Industry 2018 – Full Report. https://globalfashionagenda.org/product/pulse-of-the-fashion-industry-2018/

Maxwell, J. A. (2013). Designing a Qualitative Study. In Qualitative Research Design: An Interactive Approach (3th Editio). SAGE Publications.

Meadows, D. H. (2008). Thinking in Systems (D. Wright (ed.)). Earthscan. https://doi.org/10.1515/opag-2018-0002

Minai, M. S., & Lucky, E. O.-I. (2011). The Moderating Effect of Location on Small Firm Performance: Empirical Evidence. International Journal of Business and Management, 6(10), 178–192. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.5539/ijbm.v6n10p178

Mukherjee, S. (2015). Environmental and Social Impact of Fashion: Towards an Eco-friendly, Ethical Fashion. International Journal of Interdisciplinary and Multidisciplinary Studies, 2(3), 22–35.

Murray, B. (2013). Materials Topic Guide: Embedding environmental sustainability in product design. In Product Sustainability Forum (Issue January). http://www.wrap.org.uk/sites/files/wrap/Embedding sustainability in design - final v1.pdf

Niinimäki, K. (2015). Ethical foundations in sustainable fashion. Textiles and Clothing Sustainability, 1(1), 3. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40689-015-0002-1

Niinimäki, K. (2018). Sustainable Fashion in a Circular Economy. School of Arts, Design and Architecture Aalto University.

Senayah, W. K. (2018). Skill-Based Competence and Competitiveness in the Garment-Manufacturing Firms of Ghana [University of Ghana]. https://ugspace.ug.edu.gh/handle/123456789/28928

Shields, J., & Shelleman, J. (2015). Integrating Sustainability into SME Strategy. Journal of Small Business Strategy, 25(2), 59–76. https://libjournals.mtsu.edu/index.php/jsbs/article/view/561

Sinha, P. (2002). Creativity in Fashion Design. Journal of Textile and Apparel, Technology and Management, 2(IV), 1–16. https://doi.org/10.5040/9781501303432

Sloan, K., Klingenberg, B., & Rider, C. (2013). Towards Sustainability: Examining the Drivers and Change Process within SMEs. Journal of Management and Sustainability, 3(2), 19–30. https://doi.org/10.5539/jms.v3n2p19

Stecker, P. (1996). The Fashion Design Manual. Macmillan Education.

Thorisdottir, T. S., & Johannsdottir, L. (2019). Sustainability within fashion business models: A systematic literature review. Sustainability (Switzerland), 11(8), 1–26. https://doi.org/10.3390/su11082233

Tischner, U., & Charter, M. (2001). Sustainable product design. In M. Charter & U. Tischner (Eds.), Sustainable Solutions: Developing Products and Services for the Future (pp. 118–139). Greenleaf Publishing.

Williamson, D., Lynch-Wood, G., & Ramsay, J. (2006). Drivers of environmental behaviour in manufacturing SMEs and the implications for CSR. Journal of Business Ethics, 67(3), 317–330. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-006-9187-1

WRAP. (2012). Valuing our clothes: The true cost of how we design, use and dispose of clothing in the UK (2012). https://wrap.org.uk/resources/report/valuing-our-clothes-true-cost-how-we-design-use-and-dispose-clothing-uk-2012

WRAP. (2017). Valuing Our Clothes: the cost of UK fashion. https://wrap.org.uk/resources/report/valuing-our-clothes-cost-uk-fashion

Yin, R. K. (2018). Case Study Research and Applications: Design and Methods. 6th Edition. SAGE Publications.