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Go green or go home, millennials shop Eco-Friendly, new study finds.

Apparel Brands Go Green

Buy from a brand whose social and environmental practices are trustable.

New data has found that Americans don’t want to get caught buying from a company exploiting the planet.

The findings show that 90% of millennials will buy from a brand whose social and environmental practices they trust, and 95% of them will recommend that brand to a friend.

Considering millennials spend a $600 billion per year, a figure that’s expected to grow to $1.4 trillion, which is 30% of the market, those numbers have a huge significance for brands.

They named Patagonia, Whole Foods, Tesla, Apple and The Honest Company as some of their most-trusted brands, all of which have notable social or environmental practices.

Even Walmart made the list for its recent sustainability initiatives.

In fashion, we’ve seen luxury groups like Kering working toward a greener future. Just this year, Gucci (also owned by Kering) announced that it would be going fur-free — to much fanfare in the industry.

Basically, millennials want to see the companies they shop with caring about where the planet is headed. If brands seek to tap into their loyalty (and wallets), it’s time they get on board, too.

Eco-apparel is growing

In 2011, the top eco-apparel categories were footwear (23%), active/workout wear (21%), and women’s casual wear (21%), with green options purchased by about 20% respondents.

While 69% considered eco/sustainability when purchasing clothing, eco-fashion purchase intent doubles in nearly every category, with these so-called “gateway categories” reaching 48%, 47%, and 47%, respectively.

While price will always be top-of-mind, lack of availability appeared to be a strong limiting factor.

About 33% of those who don’t regularly consider sustainability in their apparel purchases said they didn’t buy sustainable because it wasn’t available where they shop and 28% said they didn’t even know where to purchase eco/sustainable clothing.

”The data is showing a strong interest in eco/sustainable apparel. This represents a growth opportunity, especially if manufacturers and retailers make it easier to find,” Christine Nardi Diette, group president, Ryan Partnership Chicago.

When shoppers do buy eco/sustainable, 57% said they became aware of eco-attributes through product tags, while 37% credited in-store information.

Fewer than one in four use digital means to seek out eco/sustainable information through online search (23%) and brand websites (22%).

Notably, 61% of shoppers expressed interest in an Apparel Sustainability Rating or Index. One consumer said,

“It would be a tipping point if I were choosing between two products of similar price and quality or might persuade me to buy the more expensive product.” Christine Nardi Diette

Diette points out that eco/organic food, personal care and cleaning products have already overcome this eco-awareness hurdle.

”We believe sustainable apparel may be next if the industry can pull together with a similar effort to better market the category,” Christine Nardi Diette

The survey shows that shoppers seek eco-conscious apparel at mainstream retailers where they shop, suggesting those products represent an immediate growth opportunity for all apparel retailers, not just niche shops.

”We believe there’s a case to be made for more consistent and impactful eco-apparel product labeling and compelling point-of-sale signage. A ‘store-within-a-store’ concept for this category could significantly increase shopper perception of availability as well, eliminating a major barrier to purchase,” Christine Nardi Diette

Also, the report revealed eco-conscious consumers aren’t willing to trade fit or durability, and rank a number of “sustainable” factors at the same level of importance in their purchase decision, such as “fun” and “fashionable.”

With the growing availability of a range of stylish yet sustainable apparel options, today’s shoppers can have it all – if they can find it.

Waterless dyeing process

Nike, few years ago, started a partnership to pursue a waterless dyeing process to reduce the environmental impact of fabric production.

Nike says it expects DyeCoo’s “SCF” CO2 dyeing technology, to have a particularly positive impact in Asia, where much of the world’s textile dyeing occurs. The CO2 used in DyeCoo’s dyeing process is also reclaimed and reused. Benefits of the technology include no water consumption, a reduction in energy use, no auxiliary chemicals required, and no need for drying, which makes the process twice as fast as water-based dyes.


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Waterless dyeing process