As part of the IFM – Première Vision Chair, Français de la Mode conducted a study that surveyed 5,000 consumers in France, Germany, Italy and the United States about their consumption habits of Eco-friendly fashion. This September 2019 study, led by Gildas Minvielle, Director of the IFM-Première Vision Chair, gives us a bases of a behavioral shift pre-pandemic, which is significant. He says, “consumers tend to buy less, but better. They are willing to pay more, and compensate by buying fewer products”. Post-pandemic behavior will give us an interesting perspective on the acceleration, if any, regarding conscious fashion consumption.
What constitutes a sustainable fashion item to consumers?
- The protection of the environment is the #1 concern for Italy and France. Labor conditions for Germany and what material is used for the USA are primary criteria for a sustainable item.
- Renouncing the use of toxic chemical products that harm the environment is the #1 criteria for all countries when it comes to production.
- Natural materials [such as cotton, hemp] are the #1 choice of what a sustainable product should be made of. For France, a close second criteria are the use of materials that respect the environment whether natural or man-made; Italy and USA second criteria is the use of recycled textiles; Germany’s second priority is the use of durable materials that last longer.
Social conscious has shifted as well with health and safety for workers and the opposition to child labor the most important social criteria. Where should sustainable products be made? Locally and specifically products should be made in Europe or North America. Second-hand clothing is most important to USA and France when purchasing sustainable fashion. The real opportunity is education and communication. At least 70% of the 5000 surveyed don’t feel they have enough information about sustainable fashion and don’t know companies that sell it. The good news is that the study shows a move away from prohibitive factors such as sustainable fashion not being stylish enough and that it cost more.
Overall, the results indicate consumers are aware of the negative environmental impact of synthetic materials [polyester] and toxic chemicals ; the social and ethical implications; and the need to keep clothing out of the landfills by purchasing second-hand clothing or recycled pieces.
Image: Why Fair Trade and Sustainable Fashion? 78% of Slavery Victims are in Labor Slavery – Fair Trade Fashion Show, Los Angeles 2017, post show with models and founder Sica Schmitz | photo Rhonda P. Hill