Fashion and Sustainability-Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

Fashion and Sustainability-Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

Sustainability and issues of climate change issues are ever-present in the media, and not without reason. By now it is widely known that the increase in global temperature is producing many adverse effects on the planet. Some of these effects include: rising sea levels, heat waves, storms, drought, melting glaciers, and warming oceans.

These wreak havoc on human livelihoods and threatens the habitats of animals worldwide. As a result, people have expressed a need for change. One of greatest advancements in regard to the climate crisis has been the reduction of carbon emissions by businesses. With fashion, as one of the highest polluting industries, shoppers have been at the forefront of urging brands to embrace eco-friendly practices.

Sustainability = Desirability?

Businessoffashion.com reports that 60% of millennials globally have expressed their willingness to spend more on brands that embrace sustainable fashion. In addition, a LIM College study discovered that around 90% of respondents want to help create more sustainable products. They intend to do so, “by convincing business and governments to change existing practices.” The study also found that 90% of participants are prepared to steer clear of fashion brands that don’t practice sustainability.

The aforementioned reports show that consumers have an interest in sustainability. Nonetheless, eco-friendly clothing isn’t flying off the shelves. This begs the question, if shoppers care so much about sustainable fashion, then why are they not buying it? A Business of Fashionarticle cites an Oeko-Tex report as saying only 37% out of the 60% of shoppers who registered an interest in certified clothing have actually bought them. Could this then be a case of fashion consumers not being willing to put their money where their mouth is?

The Price Is Not Right

A number of reasons have been given as to why shoppers fail to follow through their interest in sustainable fashion. The LIM College study attributes shoppers’ reluctance to pay for sustainable fashion to the fact that they are not given adequate sustainable fashion options. Consumers want options that also satisfy in terms of: price value, and ease of purchase, per Business of Fashion.

There’s also the issue of availability. Some people consider the fact that there are only a few ethical clothing brands in the industry as limiting. Sourcing Journal adds that sustainable, eco-friendly clothing isn’t selling possibly because consumers have yet to establish the relationship between the textiles they buy and sustainability.

Do Consumers Care About Supply Chain?

When matters of sustainability are mentioned in respect to fashion, they often relate to the process of ensuring that all raw materials and fashion products are obtained responsibly and sustainably, that all garment workers are provided a safe work environment and are treated justly. This goes to say that consumers who care enough about sustainability should at least try to understand how raw materials and products are sourced.

Rachel Arthur, a Chief Intelligence Office with fashion innovation consultancy The Current, argues that this is not the case with most fashion consumers. “Of course, there is going to [be] a subset who are really interested in sustainability and want to know where things come from.” Racked quoted Arthur as saying. “But even if we are seeing that trajectory increase, I guarantee you the majority of consumers are not interested in wanting to understand your supply chain. They just want to have a nice product at the end of the day,” she continued.


Author: Christine Duff

Christine wants to live in a world filled with cutting edge fashion, beautiful words and and an endless supply of leather jackets and boots. A product development grad of FIDM, she was the Editor-in-Chief of MODE Magazine where she reignited her love of storytelling. She has diverse experience within the industry with trend research, art direction and styling editorial spreads. She gained her most notable experience working in Los Angeles at the satellite operation for GQ and Vogue Thailand. Christine is passionate about social science and the role it plays in the consumer goods industry and apparel in particular.