EU consumers expect fashion brands and governments lead to ensure sustainability

2018 - sustainable fashion - mi apparelDesk Report (RMG Times) New research released today shows that consumers across the five largest EU markets want to know more about the social and environmental impacts of their garments when shopping for clothes, and they expect fashion brands and governments to be doing more to address these issues.

The majority of people think that fashion brands should reduce their long-term impacts on the world by addressing global poverty, climate change, environmental protection and gender inequality – all issues covered by the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals for 2030. Environmental factors were considered most important (85% listing climate change and 88% environmental protection in order of importance), with social issues not far behind (84% considered it important for fashion brands to address global poverty and 77% said gender inequality is important).

The majority of people (68%) agree that the government has a role to play in ensuring that clothing, including shoes and accessories, is sustainably produced.

Significantly, 72% of people said that fashion brands should do more to improve the lives of women making their clothes, shoes or accessories, while more female consumers surveyed (81%) think it is important that fashion brands tackle gender inequality than their male counterparts (72%).

Data shows that more women (36%) than men (27%) said buying clothes made without harming animals was important.

More Generation Z and Millennials (respondents ages 16-34) said they consider social impacts when buying clothes than older generations. More people in the UK said that buying clothes made by workers being paid a fair, living wage was important to them than in any other country surveyed, but only 5% of Brits consider clothes being produced locally to be important, compared to 14% in France and Spain.

Meanwhile, 37% of Spanish shoppers said that buying clothes that have been made in safe working conditions was important to them, compared to considerably fewer respondents in France (21%).

The online poll of 5,000 people across the UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain was conducted by Ipsos MORI for Fashion Revolution ahead of Black Friday, Friday 23rd November, the biggest shopping discount event of the year.

No longer a one-day shopping extravaganza, Black Friday kicks off an extended discount period running through Cyber Monday. This has become an established feature of the retail calendar – one that has dramatically changed the way people shop in the run-up to Christmas.

Sarah Ditty, Fashion Revolution Policy Director said: “The pace of change by the fashion industry simply isn’t moving fast enough, and we can see this reflected in consumer attitudes. People have an urgent, emotional desire to know more about how their clothes are made, and that they haven’t harmed the environment, the people who made them nor were tested on animals. And they want governments to hold brands and retailers to account to ensure this happens.”

The majority of people would like to know more about the social and environmental impacts of the clothing they buy. 67% would like clothing brands to tell them where the materials used in their products come from and 59% of people would like to know how their clothes are manufactured. 61% of people are interested in learning about what clothing companies are doing to minimise their impacts on the environment and to protect their workers’ human rights. 59% of respondents are interested in learning what clothing companies do to improve the lives of people in the societies where they manufacture their products.

Fashion Revolution’s Fashion Transparency Index which reviews and ranks 150 major global brands and retailers according to their social and environmental policies, practices and impacts, found that top ranking global brands scored 51-60% out of a possible 250 points in 2018.

Over three-quarters of consumers surveyed think that fashion brands should publish which factories are used to manufacture their clothes (80%) or which suppliers they use to source materials used in their garments (77%).

Sarah Ditty added: “We’d like the general public, companies and governments to use our research to help drive change in the fashion industry, to better influence their peers to care more about social and environmental issues in fashion and start asking vital questions about the impacts of our clothing.”

Fashion Revolution is benchmarking consumer attitudes to ethical consumption and will track and report change over three years.

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