Author: Claire di Noia, 22 May 2018

Sustainability has been a hot topic over the last few years and with brands such as Zara, ASOS and H&M all pledging to adopt a circular model, in which products and waste are reused. FSP takes a look at what this means, whether it’s a fad and the likelihood of changing shopping patterns.

Sustainability has become an umbrella term that describes a better way of producing clothes. Typical measures include using sustainable cotton, transparency across the supply chain, reducing waste and recycling.

Garments are increasingly being made from recycled cotton, such as Refibra lyocell, with many of the top fashion brands launching sustainable collections such as Join life from Zara and Conscious from H&M. Gone are the days when eco clothes had that crusty look about them and spotting the ECHO edit range from the rest of the ASOS website isn’t straightforward. Equally, the price doesn’t always give it away, with H&M selling organic cotton t-shirts at £6.99.

Recycling means not only the packaging, but also the clothes themselves. Names synonymous with fast-fashion and over-consumption are going some way to counterbalance the problem. Inditex has pledged to have recycling units in 2000 of its stores by 2020 whilst Topshop has created the reclaim to wear collection, made only from surplus materials. The idea that millennials are buying less but better has gained traction recently, although there are many factors behind this.


On the ethical side it’s all about transparency, understanding where the clothes are made and in what conditions. For most shoppers, this is not going to be the main reason to purchase, but could ring alarm bells if missing. Scandals involving suppliers can be damaging and increasingly shoppers want to know where their purchases come from.

So is it a just a fad? We don’t think so; some brands will really embrace this as a point of differentiation and use it to their advantage. Others will simply have to keep up with the pack for fear of being singled out. Either way this will be driven by consumer demand and with millennials more ecologically aware than previous generations, it feels like a trend set that could become the new norm.

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