Do consumers really know what sustainability means in the fashion industry?

3 July 2019

What we should all know is that the fashion industry is the second most polluting industry in the world after oil (Ethical Fashion Forum, 2014). While more and more of us are becoming aware of environmental issues and ethical consumption, when it comes to fashion industry, scientific research has shown that consumers are not aware of the impact of their consuming behaviours in the environment. Consumers have environmental concerns, however this is not translated in a  purchase of a sustainable item. According to numerous academic researches this happens because there is a lack of understanding and information about what sustainability is and why it is important to buy sustainable clothes (Perez and Lonsdale, 2018). Brands need to communicate and give information to their consumers what they do differently than the ‘’fast fashion industry’’ and why it is important for all of us to invest in sustainable clothes for a better relationship with the environment, ourselves, and the communities we live in.  

Another significant finding that researches have shown is that consumers think that sustainable clothes are indeed the best way of consuming, however, they also think that they are not fashionable and they lack style in comparison to cheaper clothes from mass fashion brands (Annamma et al., 2012). In this sense, brands do need to rethink they communicating strategies, they need to provide storytelling to consumers that will create a feeling of responsibility, and they should not forget that sustainable can also mean high aesthetics. Let us all reimagine how ethics can go along with aesthetics and create new ways of living.

Author: Ermelinda Xheza
Header image: Insane In The Rain
Right image: JUNGL 

Annamma, Joy, John Sherry, Alladi Venkatesh, Jeff Wang, and Ricky Chan. 2012. ‘’Fast Fashion, Sustainability, and the Ethical Appeal of the Luxury Brands’’ Journal of Fashion Theory 16(3), p. 273-295.

Perez, Anna, and Londsdale Maria. 2018. ‘’Garment Label Design and companion information to communicate fashion sustainability issues to young consumers’’
Journal of Visible Language 52(3), p. 115-139