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Generation Zers express a wish to buy sustainable clothing, but are still big ‘fast fashion’ purchasers
Our digital strategy experts at Skywire London have written previously on what might be perceived by some as the “hypocrisy” of members of the Generation Z cohort with regard to their purported attitudes towards – and engagement with – sustainable versus ‘fast’ fashion. It therefore intrigued us to hear of further evidence of this emerging from new research.
Specifically, four researchers from Sheffield Business School at Sheffield Hallam University polled 56 university students in the 18-to-24 age bracket, along with four people aged over 24. Six participants were also interviewed in-depth on sustainable clothing, which can be defined as clothing produced with minimal carbon emissions, and without the exploitation of workers or animals.
Thought-provokingly, it became apparent that while the polled Generation Zers expressed a wish for their clothes to be sustainable, they still regularly purchased ‘fast fashion’ items – a signal of a “clear gap” between ideals and practice.
Eyebrow-raising contradictions in Gen Zers’ relationship with fashion
Over several days in late August and early September, the British Academy of Management (BAM)’s annual conference took place at Alliance Manchester Business School.
It was at this event that it was revealed that according to the Sheffield Business School research, nine in 10 Gen Zers purchased fast fashion, but only a sixth of them could name a brand that produced sustainable clothing.
The survey also found that although women were likelier than men to advocate for sustainable clothing, they were actually less likely than men to go as far as buying it.
63% of the Sheffield Hallam students quizzed agreed that they were concerned about the fast-fashion industry’s social implications, while 48% signalled concern about its implications for the environment. A mere 3% of respondents indicated that they were not concerned at all about the fast-fashion sector’s social or environmental impacts.
However, it also emerged from the research that almost a fifth – 17% – of those questioned admitted shopping at a fast-fashion retailer on a weekly basis, with 62% doing so monthly, and 11% yearly. A mere 10% of the survey participants claimed that they had never bought from a fast-fashion retailer, and only 43% of those surveyed said they had considered where or how their clothes were made prior to purchase.
Five out of the six people interviewed were also unable to name any brands that produced sustainable clothes. All six cited price as the principal barrier to buying sustainable clothes.
The researchers pinpointed six factors in all that were preventing people buying sustainable clothing: price, lack of knowledge, insufficient choice, a lack of aesthetic choice, scepticism with regard to business transparency, and social desirability.
One of the researchers, Dr Marc Duffy, said to the conference: “Generation Z are increasingly concerned for the planet… but the large proportion who admitted buying fast fashion demonstrates a clear gap between pro-sustainability ideologies and observed behaviour.”
Allow our skilled and informed digital strategy experts to show you the way
Is your high-end fashion or lifestyle brand gunning for growth for the duration of 2022, 2023, and beyond? If so, it might now be the right moment to enquire to the Skywire London team.
Although we are based in the UK capital, we take great pride in our globally oriented service. Reach out to us now, and we can discuss how our creative, strategic, and digital excellence can help drive your brand’s growth over the months and years ahead.
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