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UK Fashion & Sustainability Market Report

Everything you need to make the right decisions

Providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information and analysis of the Fashion & Sustainability market, and the behaviours, preferences and habits of the consumer.

Mintel has the answers you’re looking for

What are the key challenges facing the industry? Who is the consumer and what do they want? Where are the opportunities, where are the risks and what lies ahead?

Key points included

  • The dangers of getting hung up on plastics
  • Is there a correlation between price and sustainability?
  • How will shopping more sustainably impact the fashion market’s bottom line?

Covered in this report

This report is designed to give an overview of sustainable fashion, covering concerns including but not limited to:

  • Animal welfare
  • The impact of fashion on the environment
  • Sustainability across the supply chain

For the purpose of this report and unless otherwise indicated, Mintel defines fashion as the following categories:

  • Clothing (including womenswear, menswear, childrenswear and underwear)
  • Accessories (including bags, jewellery and watches)
  • Footwear

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

Written by Chana Baram, a leading analyst in the Retail sector, her extensive knowledge delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

Press headlines and TV documentaries have helped to raise consumer awareness regarding how harmful certain shopping habits can be to the environment. Consumers want to see fashion retailers doing more to help them shop more ethically and sustainably. However, with so many conflicting messages regarding what is, and what is not, sustainable, many shoppers are finding it difficult to discern which retailers are actually sustainable. More retailers and brands should be coming together to push for industry-wide best-practice guidelines when it comes to producing fashion sustainably Chana Baram
Retail Analyst

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Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Products covered in this Report
      • Executive Summary

          • The market
            • The Rana Plaza disaster caused widespread concern around fast fashion
              • Figure 1: The number of brands and retailers disclosing information about their suppliers, 2017-19
            • Concern for plastic pollution has swept the nation
              • Figure 2: Top environmental concerns, April 2018
            • More is being done to reduce CO2 emissions
              • Figure 3: UK total greenhouse gas emissions headline results, 1990-2017
            • Companies and brands
              • Marks & Spencer seen as the most ethical fashion retailer
                • Figure 4: Agreement with “ethical” and “unethical” for M&S, August 2014-April 2019
              • The consumer
                • Nine in 10 made a fashion purchase
                  • Figure 5: Fashion items purchased, June 2019
                • Consumers demand greater transparency
                  • Figure 6: Attitudes towards sustainable and ethical fashion, June 2019
                • Sustainable fashion ranges prove popular
                  • Figure 7: Most important sustainable factors when buying fashion, June 2019
                • Plastic pollution is a top concern for fashion customers
                  • Figure 8: Issues taken into consideration when shopping for fashion, June 2019
                • Repairing fashion has mass appeal
                  • Figure 9: Sustainable behaviours towards fashion, June 2019
                • People learn about sustainability from their peers
                  • Figure 10: Sources trusted by fashion shoppers when learning about sustainable fashion, June 2019
                • People find sustainable fashion confusing
                  • Figure 11: Behaviours towards sustainable and ethical fashion, June 2019
                • What we think
                • Issues and Insights

                  • Is there a correlation between price and sustainability?
                    • The facts
                      • The implications
                        • The dangers of getting hung up on plastics
                          • The facts
                            • The implications
                              • How will shopping more sustainably impact the fashion market’s bottom line?
                                • The facts
                                  • The implications
                                  • The Market – What You Need to Know

                                    • The Rana Plaza disaster caused widespread concern around fast fashion
                                      • David Attenborough inspires a plastic revolution
                                        • Trends towards minimalism are discouraging excess shopping
                                          • The rise of the sharing economy
                                            • More is being done to reduce CO2 emissions
                                              • Government urged to do more to address sustainable fashion
                                              • Market Drivers

                                                • The rise of social media has resulted in higher levels of awareness
                                                  • Figure 12: Motivations to use social and media networks, March 2019
                                                • Rana Plaza collapse has led to an increased interest in provenance
                                                  • ‘Who Made My Clothes?’
                                                    • Figure 13: The number of brands and retailers disclosing information about their suppliers, 2017-19
                                                  • Concern for plastic pollution has swept the nation
                                                    • Figure 14: Top environmental concerns, April 2018
                                                  • The Marie Kondo effect
                                                    • Figure 15: Social media posts about Marie Kondo’s cleaning method, 2019
                                                  • The rise of the rental economy
                                                    • Efforts to reduce CO2 emissions
                                                      • Figure 16: UK total greenhouse gas emissions headline results, 1990-2017
                                                    • Vegan nation
                                                      • Figure 17: The number of vegans in Britain, 2014-18
                                                    • Government urged to do more to address sustainable fashion
                                                    • Companies and Brands – What You Need to Know

                                                      • Brands have been working on ways to close the loop
                                                        • The second-hand market goes high end
                                                          • Transparency is high on the agenda
                                                            • The uptake of veganism has led to more animal-friendly policies
                                                              • M&S seen as the most ethical fashion retailer
                                                                • Primark tries to change brand perceptions
                                                                • Launch Activity and Innovation

                                                                  • Working together for sustainability
                                                                    • Google and Stella McCartney team up to tackle fashion’s eco problem
                                                                      • Fashion retailers partner with The London Waste and Recycling Board
                                                                        • Closing the loop
                                                                          • Allbirds debuts sugar flip-flops
                                                                            • Figure 18: Allbirds Zeffer flip-flops made from sugar, 2018
                                                                          • George at Asda to sell products made from recycled materials
                                                                            • ASICS making Olympic uniforms out of used clothing
                                                                              • Boohoo launches recycled fashion collection
                                                                                • Veja launches biodegradable shoes
                                                                                  • Figure 19: Veja’s biodegradable Campo trainer, 2019
                                                                                • Remade, Reduced, Recycled: transforming old tents into bags
                                                                                  • Figure 20: Remade, Reduced, Recycled collection by RÆBURN x The North Face, 2019
                                                                                • mimycri turns boats into bags
                                                                                  • Figure 21: A bag made from boats by mimycri, 2019
                                                                                • Swedish Stockings produces tights from recycled materials
                                                                                  • Figure 22: Sustainable tights by Swedish Stockings, 2019
                                                                                • Sustainable collections
                                                                                  • & Other Stories releases sustainable capsule collection
                                                                                    • Everlane launches carbon-neutral trainers
                                                                                      • Figure 23: Everlane’s sustainable Tread trainers, 2019
                                                                                    • Fashion rentals
                                                                                      • Urban Outfitters to rent out clothing
                                                                                        • Little Mistress to launch rental service
                                                                                          • Sustainable filters
                                                                                            • Fashion brands team up with Xarista
                                                                                              • Net-a-Porter adds filter to curate ethical products
                                                                                                • Figure 24: Net-a-Porter’s new sustainable platform, Net Sustain, 2019
                                                                                              • ASOS launches sustainable product category
                                                                                                • Figure 25: ASOS’ ‘Responsible Edit’ showing clothing that is more sustainably made, 2019
                                                                                              • Second-hand market
                                                                                                • H&M sells vintage clothing
                                                                                                  • Harrods hosts pop-up charity shop
                                                                                                    • Figure 26: The second instalment of the Fashion Re-Told pop-up shop, 2019
                                                                                                  • Farfetch pilots handbag resale service
                                                                                                    • Galeries Lafayette’s second-hand platform
                                                                                                      • Who made my clothes?
                                                                                                        • H&M to reveal list of suppliers
                                                                                                          • Primark publishes supplier map
                                                                                                            • Veja unveils new website that traces the source of its shoes
                                                                                                              • Use of blockchain technology
                                                                                                                • Figure 27: The smart label produced for Martine Jarlgaard using blockchain technology, 2017
                                                                                                              • Animal-friendly
                                                                                                                • ASOS no longer selling mohair, cashmere and silk
                                                                                                                  • Luxury retailers ban exotic skins
                                                                                                                    • More brands stop using fur
                                                                                                                      • Topshop unveils vegan shoe collection
                                                                                                                        • Figure 28: Topshop’s vegan shoe collection, 2019
                                                                                                                      • Collaborations
                                                                                                                        • Mother of Pearl teams up with BBC Earth
                                                                                                                          • Figure 29: BBC Earth x Mother of Pearl sustainable collection, 2019
                                                                                                                        • Lacoste raises awareness for Save Our Species
                                                                                                                          • Figure 30: Lacoste’s first campaign with IUCN, 2018
                                                                                                                        • Allbirds and the National Audubon Society work together for Earth Day shoe
                                                                                                                          • Figure 31: Allbirds Earth Day collaboration with the National Audubon Society, 2019
                                                                                                                        • Plastic not so fantastic
                                                                                                                          • Prada announces Re-Nylon collection
                                                                                                                            • Figure 32: Prada’s Re-Nylon collection modelled by actor Bonnie Wright, 2019
                                                                                                                          • adidas pledges to go plastic-free
                                                                                                                            • Burberry aims to go plastic-free by 2025
                                                                                                                              • Membership schemes
                                                                                                                                • Knickey encourages customers to send in old underwear
                                                                                                                                  • For Days swaps any item for cash
                                                                                                                                  • Brand Research

                                                                                                                                    • M&S seen as the most ethical fashion retailer
                                                                                                                                      • Figure 33: Agreement with “ethical” and “unethical” for M&S, August 2014-April 2019
                                                                                                                                    • Affordable brands viewed in a positive light
                                                                                                                                      • Figure 34: Top ranking of fashion brands, by agreement with “ethical”, April 2018-June 2019
                                                                                                                                    • Primark’s reputation as an unethical retailer persists
                                                                                                                                      • Figure 35: Agreement with “ethical” and “unethical” for Primark, July 2012-August 2018
                                                                                                                                  • Start-ups and Disruptors Case Study: Save Your Wardrobe

                                                                                                                                    • Company overview
                                                                                                                                      • What is it?
                                                                                                                                        • Founded:
                                                                                                                                          • Founders’ story:
                                                                                                                                            • Sources of funding and support
                                                                                                                                              • Mintel analyst view
                                                                                                                                                • Mintel Trends
                                                                                                                                                  • Why it could succeed
                                                                                                                                                    • Why it could fail
                                                                                                                                                      • The verdict
                                                                                                                                                        • Media profile
                                                                                                                                                          • Social media metrics
                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 36: Social media metrics for Save Your Wardrobe, July 2019
                                                                                                                                                        • Start-ups and Disruptors Case Study: The Adorned

                                                                                                                                                          • Company overview
                                                                                                                                                            • What is it?
                                                                                                                                                              • Founded:
                                                                                                                                                                • Company mission statement:
                                                                                                                                                                  • Founders’ story:
                                                                                                                                                                    • Sources of funding and support
                                                                                                                                                                      • Mintel analyst view
                                                                                                                                                                        • Mintel Trends
                                                                                                                                                                          • Why it could succeed
                                                                                                                                                                            • Why it could fail
                                                                                                                                                                              • The verdict
                                                                                                                                                                                • Media Profile
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Social media metrics
                                                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 37: Social media metrics for The Adorned, July 2019
                                                                                                                                                                                • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                                                                                                                                                                  • Consumers demand greater transparency
                                                                                                                                                                                    • Sustainable fashion ranges are popular
                                                                                                                                                                                      • Plastic pollution is a top concern for fashion customers
                                                                                                                                                                                        • Many like the idea of preserving worn-out fashion items via repairs
                                                                                                                                                                                          • People learn about sustainability from their peers
                                                                                                                                                                                            • People find sustainable fashion confusing
                                                                                                                                                                                            • Fashion Items Bought

                                                                                                                                                                                              • Nine in 10 made a fashion purchase
                                                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 38: Fashion items purchased, June 2019
                                                                                                                                                                                              • Childrenswear shoppers want to know how products are made…
                                                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 39: Fashion items bought, by factors that would encourage people to purchase, June 2019
                                                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 40: WWF and H&M childrenswear collaboration, 2018
                                                                                                                                                                                              • …while treatment of workers and animal welfare are most important to accessories shoppers
                                                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 41: Fashion items bought, by most important ethical and sustainability issues, June 2019
                                                                                                                                                                                            • Attitudes towards Sustainable Fashion

                                                                                                                                                                                              • Transparency is key
                                                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 42: Attitudes towards sustainable and ethical fashion, June 2019
                                                                                                                                                                                              • Patagonia’s plastic packaging trial
                                                                                                                                                                                                • Younger consumers more likely to agree that there is a correlation between price and sustainability
                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 43: Attitudes towards the correlation between price and ethical fashion, by age, June 2019
                                                                                                                                                                                                • Men more likely to care about style than sustainability
                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 44: Attitudes towards style over sustainability, by gender, June 2019
                                                                                                                                                                                              • Sustainable Priorities for Fashion

                                                                                                                                                                                                • Alternatives for animal products and plastic encourage purchasing
                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 45: Most important sustainable factors when buying fashion, June 2019
                                                                                                                                                                                                • Women are more likely to be drawn towards retailers that don’t sell animal-based products
                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 46: People most likely to buy from a retailer that promises to stop using animal products, by age and gender, June 2019
                                                                                                                                                                                                • Retailers are introducing sustainable ranges
                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 47: H&M’s Conscious Exclusive spring collection, 2019
                                                                                                                                                                                                • The younger generations want retailers to be more vocal
                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 48: People most likely to buy from a retailer that raises awareness about environmental issues, by generation, June 2019
                                                                                                                                                                                              • Sustainable Fashion Concerns

                                                                                                                                                                                                • Awareness around plastic pollution makes it a top concern
                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 49: Issues taken into consideration when shopping for fashion, June 2019
                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 50: Tennis player Garbiñe Muguruza in Stella McCartney for adidas biodegradable tennis whites, 2019
                                                                                                                                                                                                • City dwellers are more likely to be worried about carbon emissions
                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 51: Amount of people who take carbon emissions into account when shopping for fashion, by location, June 2019
                                                                                                                                                                                                • Treatment of workers is more important than plastics for Millennials
                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 52: The top three issues taken into consideration when shopping for fashion, by generation, June 2019
                                                                                                                                                                                                • Made in Britain
                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Parents of young children are more concerned about the use of chemicals
                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 53: Concern over the use of chemicals in fashion, by age of children in household, June 2019
                                                                                                                                                                                                • Sustainable Fashion Shopping Habits

                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Three quarters have donated to a charity shop
                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 54: Sustainable behaviours towards fashion, June 2019
                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Repairing fashion items is a popular option
                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Rented fashion has a long way to go before it becomes mainstream…
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 55: How fashion shoppers feel about renting fashion items, by age, June 2019
                                                                                                                                                                                                    • …whereas pre-loved fashion is currently a more popular option
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 56: Shopping behaviour towards second-hand fashion items, by financial situation, June 2019
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 57: Boutique by Shelter’s Hampstead charity shop
                                                                                                                                                                                                    • More publicity is needed around brands that swap old items for rewards
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 58: How fashion shoppers feel about donating old fashion items for a reward, by age, June 2019
                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Trusted Sources for Sustainable Fashion

                                                                                                                                                                                                    • In a ‘fake news’ era trust is hard to win…
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 59: Sources trusted by fashion shoppers when learning about sustainable fashion, June 2019
                                                                                                                                                                                                    • …leading brands to become reliant on friends and family
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 60: Sources trusted by fashion shoppers when learning about sustainable fashion, by age, June 2019
                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Young men are more likely to trust magazines, while young women trust influencers
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 61: Sources of influence when finding out about sustainable fashion, by gender and age, June 2019
                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Behaviours towards Sustainable Fashion

                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Fashion retailers must cut through the noise
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 62: Behaviours towards sustainable and ethical fashion, June 2019
                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Men more likely to educate themselves about sustainability
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 63: Researching ethical fashion, by gender, June 2019
                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Urbanites show more awareness towards sustainable fashion
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 64: Behaviours towards sustainable and ethical fashion, by location, June 2019
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 65: H&M’s repair stations at its Hammersmith location, 2018
                                                                                                                                                                                                  • CHAID Analysis: Paying More for Sustainability

                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Those concerned about the treatment of workers will pay more
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 66: Fashion and Sustainability – CHAID – Tree output, June 2019
                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Methodology
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 67: Fashion and Sustainability – CHAID – Table output, June 2019
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 68: Fashion and Sustainability – CHAID – Table output, June 2019
                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Appendix – Data Sources, Abbreviations and Supporting Information

                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Abbreviations
                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Consumer research methodology