Sustainable Fashion Survey: Sustainability Can Contribute to Ethical Image

As consumers become more and more concerned with sustainability, environmental concerns are making an impact on many different industries. Even fashion and retail companies are starting to consider sustainability and other ethical manufacturing practices in order to appeal to consumers. In fact, fast fashion is one of the biggest polluting industries in the world, according to EcoWatch. Sustainable fashion brands are trying to combat that trend and provide some ethical retail alternatives. So what do consumers think about sustainable fashion? We asked about 900 respondents about their retail shopping habits and their thoughts on sustainable brands.

sustainable fashion

Shopping Habits

In Ask Your Target Market’s latest survey, 7% of respondents said they last purchased clothing or accessories within the past day. 18% have bought clothes within the past week. 27% have done so in the past month. 19% have within the past three months. 12% have within the past year. 8% said it’s been more than a year since they last purchased any clothing or accessories. And another 8% said they just aren’t clothing consumers. In general, 56% of clothing buyers said they normally make those purchases in stores. 32% shop for clothes online. 7% shop through catalogs or mail order. And 4% shop for clothes using mobile apps or devices.

When considering those clothing purchases, 22% ranked price as an important factor. 20% said that quality is important to them. 19% value style. 14% look at the materials used. 12% care about brand name. 8% care about their clothes being ethically made. And 6% want their clothes to be eco-friendly.

Sustainable Fashion

Overall, 61% of clothing buyers said they consider themselves to be at least somewhat environmentally conscious. 50% said they try to purchase eco-friendly products whenever possible. 40% would pay more for eco-friendly products. 46% believe that eco-friendly products are generally more ethically made. And 53% said that they prefer to purchase products that are ethically made whenever possible.

More specifically, 5% of clothing buyers said that they only ever buy clothing and accessories that they consider to be environmentally friendly. 14% said they buy eco-friendly clothing and accessories most of the time. 24% do so about half the time. 27% said they rarely ever buy eco-friendly clothing products. 12% never do. And 19% were unsure or had no opinion. Walmart was named as consumers’ favorite source for eco-friendly options, followed by Target, Levi’s, Macy’s and thrift stores.

Ethical Brands

Alternatively, 5% of respondents said that they only ever purchase clothing or accessories that they consider to be ethically made. 13% buy ethically made clothing and accessories most of the time. 24% do so about half the time. 24% said they rarely ever purchase clothing products that are ethically made. 11% never do. And 24% were unsure or had no opinion. Again, Walmart was the top store named for consumers to find ethically made clothing products, follwed by Target, Trader Joe’s, Nike, Macy’s, Levi’s and Amazon. Of those who purchase from ethical brands at least half the time, the vast majority also said that they purchase eco-friendly clothing items at least half the time. Those shoppers were also more likely to have shopped within the past day, week and month than other consumers.

Key Takeaways

It seems that many clothing shoppers tend to see an overlap between ethical brands and eco-friendly brands. So retailers that use eco-friendly materials or manufacturing processes can potentially use those factors to create a brand image that’s based around being ethical, which seems to be slightly more important to consumers than just being eco-friendly. And although being ethical and eco-friendly were not considered as important as things like price for most consumers, those who value ethics and sustainability seem to be more likely to shop regularly. So it could also be beneficial for clothing brands to target more regular, loyal shoppers with those campaigns designed to call attention to things like ethics and sustainability.

You can view the complete survey results in the widget below and be sure to click “Open Full Report” to take advantage of all the chart and filter options.

Photo Credit: UMM 2010 Fashion Trashion _MG_7822 by Nic McPhee under CC BY 2.0

What do you want to know? If you need some consumer insights on a particular topic, let us know in the comments below and we’ll consider it for an upcoming survey post.

Results were collected on August 5 via AYTM’s online survey panel.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Anne Pilon
Anne Pilon brings 3 years experience to AYTM as a blogger and journalist. She has a degree in journalism and marketing communications from Columbia College in Chicago and enjoys writing about business, marketing, social media, and art.