Reuse, Recycle & Rental: how sustainability concerns are shaking up the way we shop
Fashion has found itself under an uncomfortable spotlight this year as everyone from investigative journalists. to climate change activists and MPs has challenged it to account for its environmental and ethical practices.
Has all of this scrutiny seeped into the psyche of the shopper and is it changing the way they shop for fashion and dispose with their old garments? We decided to commission and major study to find out and also set about examining the new business opportunities a shift towards more sustainable living might offer.
Some of the results of our findings were quite surprising insofar as many consumers don't yet seem to believe they are over-consuming fashion, despite a media onslaught telling us otherwise. And, in fact, it being true that UK consumers buy more clothes than their European counterparts.
We surveyed more than 1,000 consumers over a balanced age and social demographic (as well as across an even gender split) and 46% of them disagreed (to varying degrees) that they had too many clothes and needed to think more carefully about how they disposed of them. A further 23% were on the fence, while 19% agreed, but only "somewhat". That left only 12% giving the matter serious thought.
That being said, the consumer is waking up to more sustainable consumption (and as you might expect it's the younger consumer leading the way) with 18% of 24-35 year olds saying they would be happy to rent clothes rather then buy them. Across all the age groups this figure is less than one in 10, with the older demographic dragging the average down.
Secondhand clothing is losing its stigma too with 34% saying they would be happy to shop in second hand stores and a similar number saying they would use fashion resale sites.
There are also opportunities for brands to offer their own second-hand stores as consumers are brand loyal and offering services such as a discount a new item in part exchange for an old one was a proposition that 43% of consumers found appealing. A good way to drive footfall in-store perhaps? Along with in-store recycling points.
While the climate crisis and fashion's role in it hasn't sunk into the psyche of the shopper as deeply as we might have expected yet, it is happening and with the younger consumer more engaged in this subject, brands would be well advised to look at this area and identify not just the risks but the great opportunities it presents also.
And, besides, it won't be long before they are forced to. While fashion has escaped legislation in this area so far. It won't be long before it comes, and of course, that's a subject this far-reaching report tackles as well.
We hope you enjoy reading it.
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