Consumers demand sustainable fashion but won’t pay more
Top five demands for the industry to become more sustainable
New research suggests over half (52 percent) of consumers in the UK and US want the fashion industry to become more sustainable, with calls for reduced packaging and fair pay for workers among their top demands. But only 29 percent of these consumers say they will pay more for sustainably-made versions of the same items.
And despite many clothing manufacturers and retailers already taking steps to become more sustainable, the message is not getting through to the public. 45 percent of the 2,000 consumers who were polled agree that it is difficult to know which fashion brands are really committed to sustainability.
The survey commissioned by Nosto reveals that many people who want greater sustainability in fashion are acting on their principles by modifying their own behavior. Jim Lofgren, Nosto’s CEO, explains: “Of those that want a more sustainable fashion industry, 57 percent say they try to keep clothes for longer because it’s better for the environment – among women this rises to 60 percent, while it’s 52 percent for men. Although the research reveals many people aren’t willing to pay extra for sustainability, these numbers do underline the strength of feeling on the issue.”
Sustainability demands: packaging, pay and materials
Nosto’s survey identifies five individual areas that consumers consider important for fashion companies to address in order to be more sustainable.
- ‘Reduce the amount of packaging’ (ticked by 75 percent of consumers who want greater sustainability in the industry)
- ‘Provide fair pay and good working conditions’ (74 percent)
- ‘Use renewable and recyclable materials’ (73 percent)
- ‘Make clothes that are designed to last longer’ (71 percent)
- ‘Use fewer resources e.g. power/water/materials’ (64 percent)
Interestingly, the call for more sustainability in fashion is present in broadly similar numbers across the generations. The research suggests 56 percent of 18-24 year olds (Generation Z) want the fashion industry to be more sustainable, 51 percent of 25-34 year olds (Millennials) and roughly half in the other age groups, including 55 percent of 35-44 year olds, 47 percent of 45-54 year olds and 50 percent of those over 64.
Those in favor of greater sustainability also pointed to the follow actions retailers can take to encourage shoppers to buy clothes that are more sustainable when shopping online:
- Clearly label clothes that are made in sustainable ways (74 percent)
- Offer discounts on clothing ranges that are more sustainable (62 percent)
- Do more to advertise and promote clothing that is made in sustainable ways (62 percent)
- Allow online shoppers to trade-in their used clothes for discounts on new items (54 percent)
- Automatically show people more sustainable alternatives to the items they are viewing online (43 percent)
“Retailers are an important part of solving the sustainability challenge,” said Lofgren. “They can support the industry by making it easier and simpler for shoppers to make sustainable choices.”
Download a full report of the findings of the Nosto Sustainability in Fashion Retail survey.