Why Consumers Are Shifting Towards A More Sustainable Purchase Behaviour
Ever since the global movement of Fridays For Future started, a great number of people have become increasingly aware of environmental matters. It is the voice of the younger generation, Gen Zers in particular (individuals born between 1997 and 2012), who have been shaking the world to take immediate action towards climate change.
In which ways is the fashion industry impacting the environment?
There are numerous factors, including fossil fuel companies, causing severe harm to the environment. However, there is no doubt that the fashion industry plays a major role in severely damaging the environment. The textile industry is indeed the second largest polluter worldwide, following the oil industry. Fashion brands are responsible for 10% of humanity’s carbon emissions and causing 20% of industrial water pollution worldwide.
Especially brands of the fast fashion branch, who provide their customers with trendy, mass-produced clothing at a very affordable price, are heavily causing marine pollution by using synthetic fibres. Currently, synthetic materials represent 60% of the clothing material manufactured worldwide due to the rise of fast fashion. Clothes of synthetic fibres can release microplastics when washed and can end up in the ocean. A study from Oslo Metropolitan University states that an estimated 35% of microplastics in the oceans derive from synthetic clothing.
With the destructive effects of fast fashion becoming more and more evident, it is no wonder that consumers have therefore become deeply engaged in sustainability matters, in recent years. An increasing number of young adults are becoming educated on the dreadful, waste-oriented system of the fashion industry, due to the rise of social media platforms and access to so much information online. This trend is reflected in the value of the ethical clothing market, which has grown from £4 million to over £50 million in the UK in the last 20 years.
How has the COVID-19 pandemic influenced the public's outlook on fast fashion?
The shift towards a more sustainable approach to fashion has become even more apparent during the COVID-19 pandemic. While the fashion industry has been put on hold throughout the crisis, the environment has recovered from its wounds, caused by the clothing industry.
Limiting the impact of fast fashion brands on climate change has thereby become an exceedingly important value of consumers. According to a survey by McKinsey of April 2020, “88% of respondents believe that more attention should be paid to reducing pollution.” Gen Zers, in particular, have gained more interest in buying second-hand fashion items and even half of the young adults surveyed, expect to purchase more pre-owned clothing. According to TheGuardian “Depop – a peer-to-peer shopping app that allows shoppers to buy secondhand items from each other – has seen a 90% increase in traffic since 1 April. In contrast, retail sales fell by a record 18.1% in the same month.”
What are fashion consumers looking for in the future?
Customers of the clothing industry are demanding more transparency and production under sustainable and ethical guidelines. They want clothing brands to consider the environmental impact of their business models, which mainly puts its emphasis on seasonality and novelty in the fashion system. Especially, leading players of the fashion industry are faced with the pressure to take significant, concrete steps to improve their carbon footprint worldwide.
Fashion consumers are now less concerned about newness as the main factor when purchasing a clothing item. What is of greater importance, is the durability and quality of a purchase.
Overall, recent events, including the school strikes on Fridays and the latest coronavirus pandemic, have immensely shaped the younger generation’s outlook on the fast fashion industry. More Gen Zers are striving for a more conscious and sustainable approach to fashion consumption. Nowadays fashion serves more as a reflection of their own identity rather than a representation of their social status.
Part of it is to support brands which align with their values. Therefore a vast majority of Gen Zers are willing to spend more money on sustainable and ethically produced products.
How does Kleiderly contribute?
At Kleiderly, we made it our mission to reduce the global fashion footprint by deriving clothing waste from landfills and incinerators. We give these valuable resources a new life by recycling them into a sustainable plastic alternative, hence solving two environmental problems at once. Spreading awareness about the impact of clothing waste is a part of reaching this mission.