An Explorative Study of Culture and Commercialization: Institutionalization of the "Ethical Fashion" in Japan

Saturday, 4 July 2015: 10:15 AM-11:45 AM
CLM.3.04 (Clement House)
Tsutomu Nakano, Aoyama Gakuin University, Tokyo, Japan
Masumi Nakano, Glomec, Tokyo, Japan
The notion of sustainability has gained popularity in the Japanese fashion industry, institutionalized as "ethical fashion". Where did it emerge and how has it evolved? We investigate the spread of the CSR movement from the point of view of cultural identification, institutional diversity, and commercialization, by employing both a structural social network analysis of relevant interfirm networks and an ethnographic study of recent commercial events as to capture the cultural content. The interactions among different players generated a rather decentralized whole network while the peak associations played an important role in organizing large firms as a top-down hierarchy. SMEs as social entrepreneurship actively engaged from the cultural stand of societal imperatives. The interactions between the two camps created the market when more players joined later as for its commercialization. As a result, it created a heterarchy of pluralism in the conception of ideals, the media marketing as to mobilize the fashion and fads, and the execution of business practices with symbolic social messages and signals. The research study suggests importance of interactions between the macro-level integration by organizing agencies, the micro-level grass-roots social engagement, and the cultural ambiguity for a conflating mixing in order to create a market where other players can join so as to gain empathy from the end-consumers. Thus the findings argue for an explicit CSR model but with a local adaption in the institutional context of changing Japanese capitalism and the evolving markets.