Sustainable fashion: lack of information first hurdle for consumers
By Matthieu Guinebault / September 13, 2019
On the occasion of the Première Vision Paris show, on September 18, the research body created by the French Fashion Institute (IFM) and Première Vision will publish the results of a unique survey carried out in France, Italy, Germany and the USA. The survey, to which FashionNetwork.com had priority access, analysed the relationship between consumers and sustainable fashion, notably finding that price and style are no longer the main obstacles to purchases.
In 2018, 45.8% of French interviewees bought at least one sustainable fashion item (from eco-responsible brands, second-hand or from a local producer). The figure was 43.4% for Germany, 46.7% for Italy and 55.3% for the USA. This year, consumers from these countries will spend on average between €136 and €166 for an item of sustainable clothing, from €95 to €123 for lingerie, between €134 and €191 for a pair of shoes and from €172 to €212 for a leather product. The amounts are significant, considering the average individual expenditure for clothes in France is €700 per year. But what are the hurdles facing consumers who want to buy sustainable fashion products? Lack of information was the main motive indicated in the USA (by 61% of interviewees), in France (50.4% of interviewees) and in Germany (42.9%). In Italy, the main hurdle was lack of knowledge on where to find such products (according to 59% of interviewees), a reason which ranked second in the other countries. “[Consumers] cannot find [sustainable fashion] products, and this shows their availability is insufficient, and the industry isn’t meeting consumer expectations,” said Gildas Minvielle, director of the IFM’s Economic Observatory. Instead, price is a problem only for 38.9% of German interviewees, for 33.4% of French interviewees, for 25.5% of Italians and 25.4% of Americans. As for style, it is mentioned as a hurdle by only between 8% and 19% of interviewees, depending on the country. “This is consistent with the growing quality of sustainable materials showcased at our events,” said Gilles Lasbordes, general manager of show organiser Première Vision SA. “In the minds of consumers today, having sustainable clothes no longer means they can’t have nice clothes,” he added. Insufficient communication and product range The thorny issue of information is therefore predominant. The IFM/Première Vision survey found that only 22.8% of French consumers are able to mention a fashion label that sells sustainable products. The figures aren’t much higher in Germany (26.9%), Italy (30%) and the USA (30.8%). Do consumers feel they are sufficiently informed? Only 19.7% of European women and 26.7% of European men answered yes, as opposed to 23.7% of US women and 42.4% of US men.
Consumers were then asked to indicate the prime concept they associate with sustainable fashion. Among French and Italian consumers, respectively 41.6% and 40.7% of interviewees said environmentally friendly production processes were the priority. Instead, for 41.7% of Americans, the type of material used is the first concern. For 30.3% of German interviewees, the priority concern is that of working conditions. Interestingly, product provenance wasn’t the prime concern for any of the panels. Compared to food and cosmetics, sustainable fashion is lagging behind in France and Italy. This isn’t the case in Germany and especially in the USA, where consumption of responsible fashion exceeds that of organic cosmetics. The survey will be presented in its entirety at 11 am on September 18 at the Innovation Talks Area of the Première Vision Paris show, staged at the Villepinte exhibition centre, by Gildas Minvielle and Thomas Delattre, director of research at IFM.