01.03.2021 change 01.03.2021

Fashion ethics and ecology of little interest to consumers, finds new study

Credit: Fotolia Credit: Fotolia

The majority of fashion brand consumers have little interest in the ethical and ecological aspects of the products they buy, says a report by students of the Kraków University of Economics.

According to the study carried out on a sample of 130 people aged 18 to 30, mostly from large cities, 90 percent do not check whether the clothes have certificates guaranteeing that the guidelines of ethical fashion are respected (e.g. decent working conditions and remuneration for employees).

Another 57 percent showed no interest in ecological fashion certificates (e.g. clothes made of renewable materials). 

Three-fifths of young consumers say they do not know which clothing brands produce clothes in a "sustainable" manner.

The most important factors for consumers are price (93.8 percent), brand (51.5 percent) and fashion trends (50.8 percent). The country of origin of the product (8.5 percent), certificates (6.9 percent), advertising (6.9 percent) and quality (6.9 percent) have a smaller influence on purchase decisions.

Young consumers decided to buy clothes mainly because they want to have something new in their wardrobe (60 percent) and have worn out their clothes (53.8 percent); they also want to take advantage of special offers and discounts.

The respondents are rather aware (42.3 percent) or fully aware (32.3 percent) that clothing production has a negative impact on the natural environment. Meanwhile, 9.2 percent of the respondents estimate that the production of clothing definitely has no impact on the natural environment.

Consumers know which features an ecologically manufactured product should have; they selected the following answers: recyclability (78.5 percent), environmental safety (77.7 percent), recyclable packaging (67.7 percent ). According to more than half of the respondents, the purchase of fur and clothes made of natural leather is unethical.

The report’s authors, Kamila and Kinga Pierzchała, said: “From the consumers' point of view, the clothing production process is not a factor that significantly influences their purchasing processes. This undoubtedly illustrates that consumers, despite a certain environmental awareness and knowledge, very often exhibit a kind of conformism or ignorance in their purchasing processes.”

They also concluded that the respondents do not realize that their consumer choices have an impact on whether brands adhere to safety standards in factories and pay fair remuneration to their employees.

They said: “Responsible fashion consumers are those who think not only about themselves, but also about others. They have the knowledge and awareness of where the materials used to make clothes come from, who made these clothes and how long they travelled before they ended up on the shelf. Knowing the certificates and reading the information on the tags helps to be such a consumer.”

The authors found that polyester, nylon and other synthetic fibres constitute approx. 60 percent of materials used to sew clothes.

The report 'Ethical and environmental awareness of young consumers of fashion brands' was created as part of the activities of the Scientific Club of the Multidirectional Individual Educational Path of the Kraków University of Economics. (PAP)

author: Beata Kołodziej

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