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Sustainable apparel on the rise but most consumers still won’t pay more

Published
Oct 5, 2018
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A recent study from the NDP Group has highlighted the growing importance of sustainability to apparel consumers but has also found that the majority of shoppers refuse to pay more for sustainable products, suggesting that it is up to brands to lead the way by providing responsibly produced merchandise at affordable prices.


NPD's study suggests that it's up to sustainable apparel brands such as Reformation to offer their products at an affordable price in order to attract consumers. - Instagram: @reformation


While a third of the consumers surveyed by NDP said that the social responsibility of a brand was extremely important to their purchasing decisions, with a further third saying that they would be willing to pay more for sustainable apparel if it was so labeled, two thirds said that they would not shell out more for socially and environmentally conscious products.
 
The findings echo those of a study conducted by LIM College earlier this year, which found that while younger consumers have high expectations in terms of a brand’s green credentials, this often fails to bear out in their purchase choices, which are consistently influenced to a greater degree by factors such as price and convenience.

That said, among respondents to NDP’s survey, 18 to 34-year-olds were the most likely to say that they would pay more for sustainable apparel. Women also ranked highly in this respect, with 33% replying that they would be willing to do so.

The NDP also recently hosted a panel discussion in collaboration with the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York. Panelists included Lamini co-founder Vanessa Urenda; founder of Beyond the Label Taryn Hipwell; Valérie Martin, vice president, global communications and culture at Aldo Group; and Sabra Krock, creative director and co-owner of Everything But Water.
 
The discussion, which was moderated by NPD’s chief industry advisor Marshal Cohen, highlighted that consumers often have different ideas about what exactly sustainability means and that brands need to communicate their specific environmental and social values clearly.
 
This diversity in definitions of sustainability was also mirrored in NDP’s study. When asked about which sustainability issues in particular were important to them, 29% of those surveyed highlighted human rights and fair wages as a priority. Problems concerning toxic dyes and chemicals, animal welfare, minimizing waste and global warming all ranked much lower.
 
“Sustainability will continue to be an important topic for consumers and the industry in the years to come,” said Cohen a release.
 
“To attract consumers, particularly young adults and women, apparel brands and retailers will need to stay in touch with social responsibility issues, and educate and inform their customers with clear messaging and labeling about their sustainability efforts. Brands can’t rely on the fine print on the inside label, it needs to be woven into the ‘fabric’ of the brand.”
 
Further information about the NDP Group’s findings concerning sustainable apparel can be found on the company’s website.

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