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The Fashion Paradox: Can Fasting Ever Slow Down?




As we start to dust off our old wardrobe after a year in the interior, the need for new clothes is on the rise again. But have we learned anything from a time when fashion needs were less frivolous? And will our habits shift towards a more sustainable way of shopping?

At strategic analysis agency Opinium, we conducted our second issue of Fashion Fix research to help answer these exact questions and understand whether the topic of sustainable fashion is increasingly on the mind.

A slow but steady rise for sustainable fashion, with some hurdles ahead

Concerns about the sustainability of fashion these days have increased from 10ppts this year to 48%, with younger generations showing the greatest concern (18-24 62% vs. 43% in 2019). However, this does not seem sufficient to bring about a change in consumer behavior. While the environmental impact of an item becomes an increasingly important factor in a fashion purchase (11% compared to 9% in 2019), it still falls very low in the ranking of the main purchasing engines.

Ignorance is often a blessing when it comes to fashion shopping

70% of consumers say they never thought about looking for information on how to shop more responsibly when it comes to fashion. More than half of this group (55%) say it would be something they might consider doing in the future, while the remaining 45% say seeking advice on sustainable fashion shopping is not something that interests them.

A third (32%) of the population cannot be sure whether they bought a sustainable fashion item, while 37% said they did not buy any. Among those who did not buy a sustainable fashion item, lack of thought was again the main reason (47%). On the flip side, 16% say they just wouldn’t know where to buy a sustainable fashion item, pointing to a lack of education.

Having sustainable materials is the most compelling driver for responsible purchasing

So how do consumers who claim to have purchased a sustainable fashion item in the past 12 months tackle this challenge? What are the attributes or indicators that lead them to believe that they are buying responsibly? Well, over half (53%) said the items were made from sustainable materials, while just under a third said the online delivery packaging was recyclable (31%) . The same proportion believed the workers who made the garment were paid a fair wage (31%) and three in 10 believed the clothing / accessories were made locally in the UK.

Of responsible buyers, 45% said they paid more than they usually would for an item because of its durability credentials. A similar number (46%) said that the price of an item was similar to what they usually pay, but that they would gladly have spent more for durability status.

It’s not my problem: Consumers look to retailers and brands to drive change

However, UK consumers also believe it is the responsibility of the brand and retailers to encourage more sustainable shopping behaviors (27% each), with just 15% of adults believing it’s theirs, as individuals, to make the change.

To learn more about how retailers can encourage continuous change in the right direction, download the full Fashion Fix report here.

Hannah Teale, Associate Director at Opinium.




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