More than just a fashion phenomenon, eco-responsible clothing has gradually become part of the purchasing behavior of Europeans and Americans, eventually becoming essential. A new international study shows that they now represent a third of the fashion budget of the French, and almost half that of the Italians. The only downside is no longer the price, but the lack of information, the ultimate obstacle to (really) reasoned consumption.
Sustainable fashion is no longer a utopia. Committed and aware of the challenges associated with the climate emergency, consumers are slowly turning to greener wardrobes. If some still doubted a real passage to the act, it is clear that Europeans and Americans have indeed made a favorite place for sustainable fashion in their dressing room. That’s according to a new study by the Institut Français de la Mode (IFM) and Première Vision*, which interviewed no fewer than 7,000 people in France, the United Kingdom, Italy, Germany and the United States.
A third of the clothing budget
In three years, sustainable fashion has established itself in consumer buying behavior in Europe and the United States. While just over four in ten Europeans said they bought at least one eco-friendly fashion item in 2019, now nearly two-thirds have taken the plunge, compared to 58% of Americans. But it is in Italy that the appeal of sustainable fashion is most palpable. The proportion of the population that has succumbed to purchasing at least one eco-friendly fashion item has increased from 45% in 2019 to more than 78% in 2022.
Contrary to what one might think, these are not (just) one-time purchases. On the contrary, sustainable fashion seems to be weighing more and more in respondents’ fashion budgets. The share of eco-responsible fashion items represents a fifth of US fashion spending, 30% of that of Germans, a third for the French and up to 45% of the budget for Italian clothing. Figures that show that sustainable fashion is anything but a fleeting trend, which is well and truly – permanently – established in the habits and behavior of consumers.
Material and local production, the basics
What is sustainable and/or eco-responsible fashion in the eyes of the consumer? For the British (30%), the Germans (31%) and the Italians (39%), the material is considered the main driver of a more responsible fashion, in fact their primary motivation when buying clothes. But the French (33%) and the Americans (43%) attach more importance to local production, in other words to the concept of “made in”, which they see as the guarantee of a fashion with less impact on the market. , and more transparent, thanks in part to national regulations that are considered “irreconcilable”.
Now the question is which brands fully meet the respondents’ environmental concerns. And this is exactly where the shoe pinches. The survey shows, without naming them, that the most popular ‘textile multinationals’ – including sporting goods manufacturers and fast fashion brands – are among the top five eco-friendly brands named by the population of the five countries surveyed. A ranking that testifies to the success of the communication campaigns carried out by these giants of the sector, as well as a lack of information from which the respondents do not hide.
Pedagogy, the key to getting started
Until then, the surveys were unanimous: price was the main obstacle to purchasing eco-responsible fashion items. It is clearly no more. The study tells us that the lack of information is now the biggest obstacle for 40% of French who have not yet taken the plunge and 49% of Americans. Almost a third of the respondents say they do not even know where to find this type of product. A lock that must be broken to help the 90% of respondents who want to change the way they buy clothes to build a more sustainable wardrobe.
One of the consequences of this lack of information is the many misconceptions about leather. Particularly in Europe, the environmental impact and animal suffering caused by the manufacture of the material are pointed out. The survey shows that the majority of respondents are not aware that leather mainly comes from animals intended for meat consumption and that it is a material that comes directly from waste from the food industry. It still holds a prominent place in consumers’ wardrobes: more than 50% of Italian women and 58% of American men have bought at least one leather item in the past 12 months.
* This survey was conducted by the IFM in collaboration with Première Vision, with a sample of 7,000 people in 5 countries: France, the United Kingdom, Italy, Germany and the United States.
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