The fashion industry is notorious for a lot of things, but its unsustainable practices top the list. The fashion industry pollutes waterways with toxic dyes and produces mountains of textile waste that end up in landfills. However, the rise of Gen Z consumers is changing the game.
Born between the mid-1990s and the mid-2000s, Gen Z is the first generation to grow up with the internet and social media. Thus, making them more aware and informed about social and environmental issues than any previous generation. As a result, Gen Z is pushing for a more sustainable fashion industry that prioritizes environmental and ethical practices.
The Rise of Sustainable Fashion
Gen Z consumers are driving the rise of sustainable fashion. This is mainly because they are increasingly aware and informed about social and environmental issues. A survey by McKinsey saw 70% of Gen Z consumers are willing to spend more on brands that support environmental and social causes. Additionally, Nielsen found that 73% of Gen Z respondents are willing to pay more for sustainable products.
The sustainable fashion market is also growing rapidly. Even the second-hand market is projected to double in value over the next five years. Thus, reaching $77 billion by 2025, according to ThredUP’s 2020 Resale Report. This growth is being driven majorly by Gen Z consumers, who are more likely to shop second-hand than any other generation.
The Environmental Impact of the Fashion Industry
The fashion industry’s impact on the environment is staggering. According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the fashion industry produces 10% of global carbon emissions. Along with that, it is responsible for 20% of wastewater worldwide. Additionally, the industry generates an estimated 92 million tons of textile waste each year.
Fast fashion, in particular, is a major contributor to the industry’s environmental impact. It refers to the production of inexpensive clothing that is quickly replaced by new styles, resulting in a never-ending cycle of consumption and waste. The production of fast fashion has doubled in the last 15 years. Today, the average consumer purchases 60% more clothing items each year and keeps them for about half as long as they did 15 years ago.
How Gen Z is Pushing for Sustainable Fashion
Gen Z consumers are pushing for a more sustainable fashion industry in a number of ways. One way is by demanding transparency from fashion brands. The Fashion Revolution’s 2020 Transparency Index found that out of 250 major fashion brands, only 62 disclosed a list of their suppliers, while only 37 disclosed their raw material suppliers. Gen Z consumers are increasingly demanding to know where their clothes come from and how they are made.
Gen Z consumers are also turning to sustainable alternatives to fast fashion. Like second-hand and vintage clothing. According to a survey by ThredUP, 59% of Gen Z consumers have bought second-hand clothing. Compared to 44% of millennials and 35% of baby boomers.
Going Green: How Gen Z is Inspiring Brands to Embrace Sustainable Fashion
Gen Z’s love for sustainable fashion is inspiring brands to embrace sustainability and make it a core part of their business model. Today, brands are now investing in eco-friendly materials. Additionally, they are also reducing waste and implementing fair labour practices. This shift towards sustainability is not just good for the environment. It is also good for business. Gen Z is proving that sustainable fashion is not just a trend but a profitable market that is here to stay.
Accenture estimates that the sustainable fashion market is projected to reach $9.81 billion by 2025. This growth is being driven in part by Gen Z consumers since they are willing to pay more for sustainable and ethical products. Brands that fail to keep up with this shift risk losing market share and damaging their reputation.
Brands that are leading the way in sustainable fashion include Patagonia. They have a long history of pioneering in ethical and sustainable practices for over 40 years. The brand has implemented fair labour practices, uses organic cotton, and has committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2025. Another brand that is leading the way in sustainable fashion is Everlane. They pioneer in being transparent about pricing and production practices. Also, they have a long-standing commitment to using sustainable materials.
The rise of sustainable fashion is a trend that is being driven in large part by Gen Z consumers, who are demanding more environmentally and socially responsible practices from the fashion industry. The fashion industry’s impact on the environment is staggering, and it is up to all of us to demand change. By supporting sustainable fashion brands and making conscious choices as consumers, we can help create a more sustainable and equitable future for all.
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