Consumers’ clothing consumption is the cause of many social and environmental consequences, especially in emerging economies where consumption continues to escalate with the ever-increasing populations. It is therefore vital that consumers adopt more voluntary simplistic lifestyles with regards to sustainable clothing practices. This study therefore relied on the self-determination theory to explore the influence of basic psychological needs (i.e., competence, autonomy, and connectedness) and self-determined motivation (i.e., identified- and integrated regulation as well as intrinsic motivation) on female consumers’ voluntary simplistic clothing consumption practices. Furthermore, the study also explored the classifications of female consumers based on their engagement in voluntary simplistic clothing consumption practices to determine whether these consumers are voluntary simplifiers or not.
A quantitative, non-probability purposive sampling approach was used to collect 482 responses via structured, self-administered online questionnaires of which 469 (97.3%) responses were used for descriptive and inferential statistics as well as structural equation modelling and cluster analyses, and 13 (2.7%) were deemed incomplete and thus discarded. During the initial inferential statistics all the key concepts were subjected to exploratory- and confirmatory factor analysis, of which basic psychological needs and self-determined motivation presented similar outcomes to previous literature. Voluntary simplistic clothing consumption practices presented the following sub-sections: ethical clothing, clothing longevity, repurposed clothing consumption, unique handcrafted clothing and need-based clothing consumption. Additionally, structural equation modelling was performed in which competence was identified as the most influential basic psychological need, followed by the need for connectedness and autonomy. Moreover, intrinsic motivation is the strongest predictor of voluntary simplistic clothing practices, while integrated regulation is deemed insignificant and identified regulation has a negative association with the practices in question.
Using SPSS software, various methods of cluster analyses (two-step and k-means) were implemented to classify female consumers based on their engagement in voluntary simplistic clothing consumption practices. Concluding results indicated that these female consumers are either voluntary simplifiers, who have committed themselves to living simpler lifestyles by recycling, reusing, reducing, repurposing and repairing clothing before either purchasing new clothes or discarding of old clothes, or partial voluntary simplifiers (including partial to non-voluntary simplifiers), who seem to be less engaged in these practices, and have adopted some of these practices or have barely adopted any sustainable clothing consumption practices. This cluster might only be engaging in certain practices because they lack competence to participate in other forms of voluntary simplistic clothing consumption practices and are not intrinsically motivated, or because they are restricted by limited resources and infrastructure.
In summary, it would seem that female consumers are keen on adopting voluntary simplistic clothing behaviours, which may be due to their intrinsic motivation and competence rather than their exposure to extrinsic influences, but further research into this topic could present valuable information that could enhance research pertaining to the topic at hand. From a theoretical point of view, this study contributes to existing literature and creates a basis for further empirical research, especially in terms of voluntary simplistic clothing consumption practices in emerging markets such as South Africa. Additionally, it provides evidence related to existing theories and concepts to explain female consumers’ basic psychological needs and self-determined motivation regarding voluntary simplistic clothing consumption practices as well as classifies female consumers based on their levels of involvement in these practices. Insight gathered from this study could be used to tailor strategies such as the National Strategy for Sustainable Development and Action Plan (NSSD) and the South African Green Economy strategy. Marketers could also benefit by fully comprehending the degree to which local female consumers engage in voluntary simplistic clothing consumption practices in order to develop effective and focused campaigns that promote social responsibility and sustainability.