Institut Français de la Mode (IFM) Première Vision released a study on the growing interest in sustainable fashion among European and North American consumers.
Sustainability has been rapidly growing in the apparel industry over the past few years and is one of the biggest challenges faced by businesses today.
Due to the recent COVID-19 crisis, sustainable fashion is gaining traction as conscious consumers are asking for more transparency and eco-friendliness.
Despite the economic context, fashion remains one of the largest items of expenditure for consumers worldwide.
And the Earth's population is still growing. So fiber production must triple globally by the year 2050 to meet its textile fiber and other needs, as reported by Cotton Inc.
The role of eco-responsibility is essential now more than ever before.
The IFM-Première Vision study reveals the state of the post-COVID-19 European fashion market, and was presented as part of the "Première Vision Digital Talks".
Led by the Director of the IFM-Première Vision Chair Gildas Minvielle, the study analyses the demand for more sustainability among 5,000 consumers in France, Italy, the United States, and Germany.
"Consumers tend to buy less, but better. They are willing to pay more, and compensate by buying fewer products."
- Gildas Minvielle, IFM-Première Vision Chair Director
"For the first time, this study helps us better understand consumers' perceptions of the responsible fashion market and its products, and decipher their buying motivations and obstacles."
- Gilles Lasbordes, Première Vision Managing Director
The IFM study on sustainable vision highlights that responsible consumption is no longer a trend. It's a major change in behavior that impacts the entire clothing and textile manufacturing industry.
Every step of the fashion supply chain needs to innovate and implement more sustainability practices, from raw material sourcing to manufacturing, distribution, and end-of-life disposal.
German consumers consider that labor conditions are a top priority to make fashion more sustainable. On the other hand, the materials used are the first criteria in the United States.
Among all consumers surveyed, and above anything else, a fashion item should only use harmless chemicals to be considered sustainable.
According to the IFM-Première Vision study, nearly 50% of European consumers purchased an eco-friendly fashion item in 2019.
And pre-loved fashion purchases keep increasing. The second-hand market is most important in France and the United States, with respectively 38,7% and 53,3% of consumers buying used in 2019.
Fortunately, style no longer represents an obstacle to the purchase of responsible products.
However, the other biggest hurdles to making sustainable fashion more popular remain the same.
The consumption of eco-friendly clothing is still limited by:
- the lack of knowledge about eco-responsibility (its definition and criteria)
- consumers not knowing where to find green products
- the lack of clarity of the offer (certifications, transparency, ...)
- sustainable product prices being too high
Eco-friendly and socially responsible clothing usually costs more than fast fashion. Sustainable fashion products are expensive but well worth it.
They generally have low production volumes and are made of high-quality materials. Ethical fashion brands also invest in a better future and must sell at a higher price point.
Sustainable production techniques cost more time, labor, and money. Recycling old garments to create new products is also expensive. And certification processes take a long time and are very costly.
Even if fast fashion is very cheap, the environmental and social costs are humongous. Many sustainable clothes are expensive, but ultimately, as demand rises, sustainable fashion can become more affordable.
“There’s a perception that sustainable fashion is expensive - this isn’t necessarily the case. As innovations become more mainstream, [it] drives the prices down. There’s a shift that has to happen. It’s supply and demand; as demand evolves, the industry is working to match this demand.”
- Brittany Burns, Director of Strategy at Fashion For Good
Visit ifmparis.fr for more information about the findings of the IFM-Première Vision study on sustainable consumption in the European and American fashion markets.
About the Author: Alex Assoune
Alex Assoune (MS) is a global health and environmental advocate. He founded Panaprium to inspire others with conscious living, ethical, and sustainable fashion. Alex has worked in many countries to address social and environmental issues. He speaks three languages and holds two Master of Science degrees in Engineering from SIGMA and IFPEN schools.