In search of fashion’s sustainability seekers - Deepstash
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Fashion consumers seek sustainable options

Fashion consumers seek sustainable options

Young, urban fashion consumers actively search for sustainable options, but many find it challenging to figure out what factors constitute "sustainability."

A recent McKinsey survey in the United Kingdom examined consumer sentiment about sustainability in clothing, footwear, and accessories. They found that millennials and Gen Zers are reaching the age and income levels to apply their eco-conscious values and beliefs to their wardrobes.

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The environmental footprint of the fashion industry

Despite increased awareness about the importance of sustainability, the fashion industry’s environmental footprint remains substantial.

Companies continue to create more products than they can sell, and over half of all fibre globally produced is polyester, which requires more energy for extraction and processing and lingers in the environment for a long time. But fashion companies will likely feel pressure to do more as environmental, social, and governance (ESG) transparency continues to grow.

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Sustainability seekers

Sustainability seekers

  • Twenty-five percent of respondents to the McKinsey survey showed that they are concerned about sustainability-related issues.
  • They prefer buying second-hand items and looking for environmentally friendly clothing.
  • They more likely consist of urban millennial women with moderate to high incomes.
  • They are most concerned with lowering GHG emissions, preserving natural habitats for animals and using renewable energy.
  • Fifty percent of the survey respondents were unsure about sustainability, and the last twenty-five percent were not interested in seeking sustainable fashion.

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Consumers are confused about the term "sustainability"

There is no shared understanding among consumers or brands about what "sustainability" means, which features matter most, or where to find information about a particular brand's sustainability commitment.

Fashion brands have an opportunity to deliver clear, direct information on their practices and effortless postpurchase options that consumers can use to reduce the impact of their fashion choices.

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The opportunity for circular fashion

The opportunity for circular fashion

  • 24 percent of respondents said they go out of their way to buy products from sustainable brands
  • 46 percent of consumers said they would want to purchase items that could be easily donated to charity.

This finding highlights a fertile opportunity for the development of circular business models. To create more value for shoppers, brands can design their products to be repurposed. If this sustainable loop is well managed, it would lessen consumers’ dependence on entirely new products and reduce the fashion industry’s planetary impact.

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