The new trend for sustainable fashion

The new trend for sustainable fashion

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Alison Wiltshire

07 Mar 2022

There’s been a new and exciting fashion trend of late.

But this isn’t about the latest colour, style or look. It’s the increasing popularity of sustainable fashion as shoppers, once only focused on fast fashion and the latest looks, instead hunt out more sustainable clothing options.

Sustainable fashion might be about using sustainable materials, improving recyclability, encouraging re-use, renting or reselling. Whatever guise it falls under it’s increasingly big business. Vogue calls it “a fashion industry freed of the trend cycle”.

Just under one in 3 (29%) of global consumers have shopping behaviours influenced by climate and social issues, according to Kantar’s 2022 Sustainability Sector Index. This is even higher in the Americas where a third (33%) are active in this area. Younger consumers (18-34) are particularly interested in the trend.

And the need is especially high in clothing, with the fashion industry responsible for up to 8% of greenhouse gas emissions, much of it from the overproduction of fast fashion items.

As consumer demand begins to build as awareness of the need to be more environmentally friendly grows, fashion retailers are responding in their droves to throw off the throwaway fashion label and adopt a more sustainable one instead.

Hugo Boss announced its latest sustainable partnership in February when it revealed it was working with yarn developer HeiQ AeoniQ as part of its strategy to increase the use of sustainable materials.

It’s not just a trend for high-end fashion brands and their customers but high street brands too.

Spanish fashion giant Mango launched its first capsule collection of sustainable fashion in 2016 under the Mango Committed label. By 2021 80% of its range came under the label, up from 45% the year before. It’s aiming that all its designs will have the Committed label this year.

Other high street names are more recent to the trend, with fashion retailer Quiz, for example, announcing in February that it is launching a new, online-only sustainable clothing range, designed and manufactured in the UK and featuring yarns made from recycled components.

The longevity of fashion is also being highlighted in an industry once guilty of delighting in the quick turnaround of trends and looks. Now it’s more fashionable to reuse than throw.

Fashion designer Miu Miu, for example, has an upcycled range, while FarFetch’s Second Life service, which launched in Europe in 2019 and the US in 2020, allows customers to sell unwanted luxury bags to earn credit for their FarFetch account.

According to Mintel two-thirds (66%) of British consumers either bought or were interested in buying second-hand fashion items last year. Boohoo Group’s fast fashion specialist PrettyLittleThing has announced the launch of a pre-owned resale marketplace later this year to encourage its shoppers to embrace sustainability.

So, with sustainable fashion in fashion what does that mean for the eco-conscious shopper eager to do their bit when making their clothing purchasing decisions online?

While many brands are pushing their sustainability messaging hard for other brands, discoverability can be a little more challenging as they look to gauge just how interested in sustainability their customers are, and, more importantly, their willingness to pay for it.

Social Proof Messaging can help surface popular sustainable options to consumers, by tagging the sustainable attributes of products and using that in your social proof messaging strategy. So a fashion retailer can share messages such as “40 people bought this jacket made with recyclable fibres”, for example.

Such messaging serves two purposes. Firstly it highlights sustainable products that may pique the interest of their consumer and secondly it reinforces the notion that the shopper, if they choose the sustainable clothing option, will be amongst a growing band of eco-conscious consumers eager to invest in such products. It shows that they are making a popular choice.

And the discovery element enabled by Social Proof Messaging is vital since many consumers say they would buy more sustainable products if it was easier to discover or find them.

Given that sustainability is only going to go higher on consumers’ agendas isn’t it time that you looked at how social proof messaging can help you share your sustainability stance?

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