Eco-friendly fashion often comes with a bit of a stigma. But while it was once thought of as uncool or only a concern for hippies, the tables appear to be turning. According to a recent Unilever study, sustainability issues are increasingly affecting shopping decisions, with 21% of people saying they would support brands that clearly convey sustainability aspects through their marketing and packaging.
This extends beyond food and everyday consumer goods into clothing, too, with a multitude of fashion brands subsequently taking environmental and ethical factors into consideration during the production process.
That being said, research suggests that it’s not always easy to market eco-friendly fashion. A Verdict study found that 20.2% of consumers say they would refuse to pay more for sustainable clothing, while 17.5% of consumers cite a lack of choice and 18.8% cite difficulty in finding it as reasons against.
So, how are fashion brands convincing consumers that sustainability is the way to go? Here’s a run-down of how new and existing sites are promoting the message.
Gurl power pic.twitter.com/gvF79JSv2Y
— HELPSY (@shopHELPSY) January 13, 2017
Helpsy is an ethical e-commerce brand that sells products that are as cool as they are eco-friendly. In fact, it uses this as the basis of its marketing message, with the aim of offering ‘design-forward, cutting-edge fashion’ that just so happens to have a positive social impact.
Using the tagline ‘ethical fashion that’s dope’, it evidently has its sights set firmly on young consumers – a fact which is reflected in the type of products offered. With categories extending to Home and Beauty, it’s reminiscent of Urban Outfitters (with a conscience).
With design at the forefront, it aims to sell products based on their aesthetic qualities as well as ethical characteristics, signalling a key shift in the mindset of consumers.
The next piece in our Inspired by Emma Watson Collection has been revealed! Available for pre-order NOW. Thank you, @EmWatson! pic.twitter.com/aPIa4YUjgL
— ZADY (@Zady) October 3, 2016
Zady is a brand born out of resistance to fast fashion – retailers that prioritise speed over quality, and in turn, contribute to environmental damage and forced labour. In contrast, Zady positions itself as a brand that prioritises ‘style over trends’ and comes with a stamp of quality across the board.
While it is not necessarily as youth-inspired as Helpsy, Zady has recently been given a boost by the support of actress and UN ambassador Emma Watson, who recently collaborated with the brand on a range of bespoke clothing.
As well as acting as an advocate for the brand, Emma perhaps represents the type of consumer that the brand is hoping to target. In turn, by capitalising on the actor’s social influence, the brand aims to capture the interest of consumers who aspire to be like her.
ASOS Made In Kenya
Unlike new or solely-ethical brands, ASOS is one example of an established retailer expanding its efforts in sustainability. Its ‘Made in Kenya’ line is created in partnership with SOKO – a Kenya-based manufacturer that provides women with fair wages, access to pre-school for their children and free medical care.
The latest range for Spring/Summer 2017 draws on its origins, incorporating artwork from local students into its designs. As well as being a subtle nod to where and how it has been produced, this builds on the ‘capsule’ aspect of the line, with the limited range of products also creating a sense of exclusivity to capture interest from consumers.
While ASOS is not a brand that’s typically known for dedication to eco-friendly fashion, it has a surprising amount of information about environmental and socio-economic issues on its site. The ‘corporate responsibility’ section outlines its commitment to fair trade as well as a range of related issues – which is sure to inspire and encourage consumers looking for ethical items.
Industry Of All Nations
One psychological study has shown that shaming consumers or making them feel bad about buying non-ethical clothing can have adverse effects. Instead of guilt leading to a change in behaviour, it can result in them dismissing or insulting those that promote the cause.
Consequently, many retailers focus on empowering consumers, using storytelling to create a sense of overall authenticity. Industry Of All Nations is a good example of this approach, honing in on the background of the people that produce its products to drive its marketing message.
By focusing on the stories of small manufacturers as opposed to the motivations of the consumer, the brand can bypass the sense that is telling people what to do, in turn creating an empowering tone rather than a moral one.
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