What consumers really think about sustainability in fashion

November 16, 2021

It seems like every day another fashion brand announces a new sustainability initiative. And consumers are more aware of the climate crisis than ever before. But are consumers connecting their heightened awareness of climate change with their fashion consumption habits? We wanted to find out, so we surveyed over 500 consumers about their attitudes towards sustainability in fashion, the ways in which their shopping habits are changing, and more.

This research is a continuation of a similar analysis we conducted in 2020. Once again, consumers report being very concerned about the sustainability of their fashion choices. They are also increasingly savvy about greenwashing and looking for transparency from brands. 

Here are some of the key trends we identified from this year’s analysis:

  1. A growing awareness of the fashion industry’s environmental impact

97% of consumers say it’s at least somewhat important to them that their fashion choices be sustainable. A large majority also report changing their shopping habits to reduce their environmental impact. 

  1. A focus on buying fewer clothes

When we asked what changes respondents had made to their shopping habits, the most common response by a large margin was “buying fewer clothes”. While actual clothing sales volumes are generally on the rise, it appears there is at least a substantial subset of consumers who understand the environmental impact of overconsumption and are focused on buying less. For brands, this means that accurate assortment planning, informed by predictive consumer insights, will become even more important. 

  1. Savviness about greenwashing

Greenwashing emerged as a key concern in last year’s report, so we decided to probe it more this year. Scepticism about all those sustainability claims is widespread: 80% of respondents reported that they feel sceptival of them. The biggest reason is lack of transparency and supporting evidence, followed by concern for workers’ rights.

Our takeaways for brands: they should understand that consumers are increasingly concerned about impact, that accurate assortment planning will become even more important as consumers think about buying less, and that consumers want more transparency and evidence when it comes to sustainability claims. 
For the rest of the findings about how consumers are thinking about sustainability in fashion in 2021, you can check out the full report here.

What consumers really think about sustainability in fashion
Lindsay Trombley
Wovn Cofounder