Speedy presentation of “slow fashion” wins 3MT competition

14 August 2017
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Miriam Seifert, PhD candidate

PhD candidate Miriam Seifert was the winner of the doctoral category of the University’s 3Minute Thesis competition 2017, announced at the finals on 3 August.

The intriguing title of Miriam’s thesis is “The Influence of Anti-consumption on a Firm’s Abilities to Achieve a Competitive Advantage – Case studies from the Slow Fashion Movement” – almost a three-minute mouthful in itself!

Her choice of subject is controversial, in that it tackles the conflict between the need to reduce consumption to mitigate climate change and environmental degradation, and the business imperative to be profitable. Miriam was already teaching sustainability in marketing at NTEC (now Aspire 2) when she saw the documentary “The Lightbulb Conspiracy”, and was further motivated to explore the subject of anti-consumption for her doctoral thesis at the University of Auckland Business School.

She decided to concentrate on the “slow fashion” movement and over the next two years she interviewed around 50 companies who are attempting to manufacture and market sustainable, long-lasting fashion wear, while still running a profitable business. Their endeavours fly in the face of the whole concept of fashion as we’ve known it for at least the last 50 years: in one season, out the next, to be replaced by something new, probably manufactured from unsustainable materials by cheap labour somewhere else in the world.

The need to change this mindset formed the core of Miriam’s 3-minute presentation at the competition finals. “First, I had to summarise the problem, then describe my research, and finally present a number of possible solutions to the problem”, says Miriam.

“It was very hard to reduce my presentation to 300 words, and then memorise it, because every word was important. There was no room to ad-lib!”

She was grateful for the support of Kerr Inkson at the Business School, who helped her improve her presentation skills.

Miriam’s success has led to her being chosen to represent the University of Auckland at the Asia-Pacific 3MT competition on 29 September at the University of Queensland in Brisbane. She will also be entered into the U21 Virtual 3MT competition.