Is the sustainable fashion movement growing as fast as we think?


Sustainable fashion has been getting a lot of press recently, but are people really onboard with the sustainable fashion movement?

 A growing interest in sustainable fashion

Many people appear to have been making adjustments to their lifestyle, either by buying more organic food, going zero waste or using less single-use plastics. The sustainable fashion movement is growing fast in terms of the number of brands out there, but are people really putting their money where their mouth is and buying sustainable fashion in favour of high street bargains? Many millennials talk about becoming more sustainable but there appears to be a gap between their intentions and behaviour, so why are they not yet shopping sustainably? Sustainable clothing is obviously more expensive than fast fashion, due to sustainable fabrics, higher quality materials, fair wages, locally sourced materials and more. However, even though people are wanting to do more for the environment and the treatment of workers, they are not quite ready to put their hand in their pocket to make sustainable purchases.


A gap between attitudes and behaviour towards sustainable fashion


This observation has also been noticed by the OEKO-TEX Association when they surveyed a group of millennials about their interest in sustainable fashion. Of those surveyed, 60% responded that they were interested in certified sustainable clothing, and 69% said they investigate if a brand is sustainable or eco-friendly before making a purchase. This all sounds pretty positive for sustainable brands trying to compete with the fast fashion world! But wait… when the participants were asked if they had actually purchased sustainable clothing, the response was only 37%. That’s quite a big drop from those who are interested to those actually making sustainable purchases and this statistic could include only one sustainable purchase. This explains why it is so hard to actually survive as a sustainable brand when so few are actually making sustainable purchases.


But why are so few millennials buying sustainable clothing?


It doesn’t appear that the OEKO-TEX survey went into any details about this but there seems to be a number of reasons. Maybe because there are very few sustainable brands that have a wide variety of products that are on trend with the high street. Also, sustainable brands tend to have little no marketing budgets, which means getting seen is a big challenge, making it hard to compete with big fast fashion brands. The Business of Fast Fashion noticed that there are three things that are important to millennial shoppers, ease of purchase, price and value. Many sustainable fashion brands are just not able to meet these needs.


So, how can sustainable fashion brands attract more sales from millennials without having to cut price margins?


Make sure your social media marketing is as good as it can be. Use high-quality imagery and content to attract customers. Instagram is a game you have to learn to play, but doing it well can keep your head above water. Also, make sure your sustainability efforts are easily visible online and in-store (on labels /promotional material).


Make sure there are as little as possible clicks needed to make a purchase on your website, each extra click is a chance to lose a customer.


Collaborate with other sustainable brands who are offering different products and work as a team to help each other grow.


Hopefully, the smaller sustainable fashion brands will still be able to compete with the fast fashion industry as they start to make their own changes to become more sustainable. Only time will tell.





Photo by Fancycrave