According to a new survey conducted by clean manufacturing firm Genomatica in the U.S., even though 86% of consumers believe that sustainability is important, nearly half (48%) are not aware of how or where they can find sustainable clothing and 42% are even confused about what actually constitutes sustainable clothing.
The new survey was conducted with 2,000 teenagers and adults in the U.S. to understand whether consumers are aware of sustainability in fashion and what is their perspective regarding the same with data showing that 1 in 3 U.S. consumers are likely to shop at a sustainable clothing store but aren’t sure whether they even exist, usually turning to already known fashion brands for access and information regarding this kind of clothing.
The data highlighted that consumers are well aware of all the environmental issues the fashion industry causes, with 72% having heard of issues like excess consumption, high carbon emissions and water pollution from dye processes in this sector and half (51%) agreeing that the clothing purchases each year in the U.S. result in a substantial amount of GHGs.
In tandem with this, 53% believe that the majority of clothes are developed out of primarily synthetic material, with 47% agreeing that fossil fuels like crude oil and coal are the main building blocks of this kind of clothing.
The pandemic may have been responsible for a shift in buying behaviours, given that 38% respondents became aware of the issues in the industry just over the last year.
Consumers are now inclined to make conscious choices but a huge percentage is unaware of where to find clothes that match their values and what goes behind making sustainable wear. Over a third (34%) said” “If there was a store for sustainable clothes, I’d do all my shopping there,” and 31% even mentioned that would support a “fast fashion tax” on clothing that’s unsustainable.
In a press release seen by Green Queen, CEO of Genomatica, Christophe Schilling, said: “Consumers are demanding more sustainable options and we’re seeing time and time again that it’s information and availability that would help shoppers make the choices they’re seeking. There’s a significant opportunity for fashion and apparel brands to show real leadership and make a substantive impact by providing consumers with the clear information they desire on the sourcing and environmental impact of their products. With consumers on the side of sustainability and renewably-sourced options for common apparel materials like nylon becoming available, the choice for brands should become easy.”
Diving deeper into sustainable clothing, 58% shared that they care about the materials used to make their clothes and don’t want them to cause any harm to the planet with nearly half (47%) saying that clothing developed out of renewably-sourced or natural materials is a top sustainability characteristic, with 46% stating that few to no toxic chemicals should be used in the production process.
There’s a significant opportunity for fashion and apparel brands to show real leadership and make a substantive impact by providing consumers with the clear information they desire on the sourcing and environmental impact of their productsChristophe Schilling, CEO of Genomatica
One respondent said: “It’s somewhat difficult to make sustainable choices because I’m never really sure what sustainable means, particularly with clothing.”
Another said: “It’s kind of hard to make sustainable choices because most companies where I live aren’t making sustainable clothes.”
50% mentioned that say that a sustainability label is crucial to help them recognize sustainable clothing, and 38% demanded clear explicit information about about sustainability features before they buy the products.
Furthermore, consumers shared their thoughts about greenwashing in the industry with nearly 9 in 10 (88%) consumers stating they are not able to trust brands that claim they’re sustainable with 51% agreeing that “greenwashing” is common in this sector.
From Mexican company Desserto that is developing leather out of cactus for various brands like H&M and Karl Lagerfeld to H&M also using ‘wine leather‘ developed out of leftover grapes in one of it’s collection to Bolt Threads’ mushroom leather material called Mylo recently used by Stella McCartney to launch the world’s first ‘mylo’ bustier and trousers, several brands are working to meet these consumer demands and build towards a sustainable fashion economy.
Lead image courtesy of Miomojo.