The decision-making process behind buying a garment previously didn’t go much further than looking at the price tag. However, as we become more aware of the state of our environment and strive towards a greener world, we gradually discover the true impact toxic chemicals and mass production have on our planet and the unbelievably poor working conditions of the people who are making our clothes. Our obsession with fashion and following the latest trends has left us oblivious to the consequences of our own choices for far too long. But now, the consumers are slowly starting to change and the price tag is no longer our only concern. As we become more aware, we insist on transparency in the production cycle and we only opt for eco-friendly brands that support and encourage human and animal rights.
Young consumers are changing the narrative
Encouraged by young consumers, brands and retailers are starting to take this responsibility very seriously. Studies show that young people are more aware than any generation before of the origins, composition and the carbon footprint of their clothes, and most of them say that they always choose brands and retailers based on their ethical practices. Buyers like these are changing the game for the fashion industry, as we see more and more attention being paid to sourcing factors and production cycles. While it would be wonderful if this new generation of consumers could put a stop to climate change, human and animal rights violations and irresponsible use of resources, some difficult obstacles still exist – from finding a consistent definition of ethical fashion to managing supply chains and communicating with consumers. Manufacturers must put a focus on each of these areas in order to ensure that the view is worth the climb. Other elements of ethics are starting to become a priority, with a quality online clothing store that fights animal cruelty and abuse by opting for faux fur and faux leather alternatives in their collections, becoming more sustainable during the process.
How can brands be ethical?
Fashion products are produced in a very complex supply chain, where numerous transgressions often hide. Although the past several years have seen great improvements in sourcing transparency, labeling and compliance, it can still be hard for brands to know where, how and what their products are made of and whether their demands are actually being met. Thankfully, there has been a rise in companies partnering up with firms that certify compliance with standards and a growing number of campaigns, conferences and leadership initiatives aimed to advance progress in these areas.
Will consumers pay more?
It is very hard to say whether or not consumers, in addition to spending more time and effort to search for brands and products that were made responsibly, will also have to pay more for the privilege of buying them. Purchasing one high-quality T-shirt that was ethically sourced and will last for several years but cost forty or fifty dollars is a far sounder choice than buying one for ten dollars that will last only six months. But how many consumers are willing to make that decision while shopping? While there are numerous studies claiming consumers are willing to pay more for better quality products, there is no sufficient data so far to confirm they are actually doing so. It could turn out that ethical practices become an entry point for brands that want to do business with savvy young consumers.
While customers worldwide are still over-consuming and labels over-producing, the new consciousness of the importance of sustainable fashion is gaining momentum – these trends are in season and won’t be going out of fashion anytime soon.