Fashion with a conscience: Why sustainable fashion is the next retail frontier

H&M Conscious Exclusive

Instock retail data reveals that in the US, sustainable fashion products* have grown 19.0% year-to-date (YTD) 2017, compared to last year. In addition, volumes of sustainable fabrics such as Tencel and Lyocell have grown by 19.7% year-on-year (YOY), highlighting retailers’ efforts to make their assortments more sustainable. Importantly, this growth is spread across all market segments, from value to luxury.

Sustainability and eco-friendly credentials are no longer niche concerns

Facilitated by social media, consumers have become more vocal regarding sustainable issues, making it imperative for retailers to offer visibility over their material procurement and apparel production practices. Accordingly, the growth in sustainable fashion has come from retailers launching dedicated sustainable collections (such as Mango’s Committed collection), broadening existing ones (such as Zara’s Join Life and H&M’s Conscious collections), and expanding the presence of sustainable products in core collections.

Apparel at forefront of sustainable investment

Sustainable fashion line: Mango Committed

Mango Committed

There is growing shopper awareness and interest in sustainable clothing and consequently demand is higher – thereby justifying retailers’ investment in sustainable apparel.

However, as shoppers become increasingly considered with their disposable incomes and buy less but better – a product’s sustainable credentials alone are not enough to encourage shoppers to part with their cash. Sustainable collections must stand up to core fashion collections in terms of design, quality, fit and fashion credibility – a fact some retailers have already woken up to.

As fast-fashion giants Zara, H&M and Asos have grown sustainable ranges, they have become increasingly sophisticated in terms of design, dismantling perceptions of unappealing, one-tone sustainable collections. In addition, collections are increasingly designed and marketed in line with wider collections, easing consumer adoption and justifying prices.

New entrant, Mango Committed’s women’s average price is £45.19, £5.40 higher than Mango’s main collection, but the collection’s distinctive design and premium feel helps justify these. Similarly, H&M recently launched a higher-priced Exclusive collection for H&M Conscious with a glamorous party in LA, further breaking down perceptions of rough-hewn sustainable collections.

Opportunities lie in footwear

Despite advancements, current range expansion and development investment remains in apparel as sustainable footwear volumes actually declined 34.6% YOY in the YTD 2017. However, soon consumers will start to demand the same levels of transparency from footwear and accessories as they do from apparel. Retailers who invest in these smaller categories now have the opportunity to benefit from first-mover advantage.



Note: Sustainable data is collated by selecting those products from the Instock platform that have the keywords ‘recycled’, ‘sustainable’ or ‘organic’ in the product name or description

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  • Santare Rukaite

    In acccessories category DIZAIND Bags http://www.dizaindbags.com offers a very sustainable fashion model. Making just one bag at the time, when the order is placed, helps to save environment, reduce the waste and make customer happy with one of the kind handmade leather bag.

    • Carlene (Team WGSN)

      Cool idea, thanks for the information @santarerukaite:disqus

      • Santare Rukaite

        Happy to share! 🙂

  • Camille Reed

    Australia’s upward trend around sustainable fashion is growing, a new website platform called Ecoture supports various forms of sustainable and ethical fashion (plus accessories) from worldwide SME’s.

    We have terrific awareness of what we can do to join the movement and be a part of this soo-to-be million dollar industry.

  • Matthew James Boelk

    For those looking for a sustainable brand or sustainable private label options please look into Groceries Apparel – We are the only Brand 100% committed to to the exclusive use of environmentally friendly materials, with our own factory in the USA.

    Both Sustainable and Local in the USA =)

    Retail line, small scale boutique private label, and volume blank garment packages available!



    Thank you so much!

    • Carlene (Team WGSN)

      Thanks so much for the comment @matthewjamesboelk:disqus – the retail line sounds great, but unfortunately the link to the website is not working for me.

      • Matthew James Boelk

        Hi Carlene, there was a typo, thank you! Should work now.

        Also shoot me an email and let me know what you are looking for and I can get you all the real info! matt@grocerisapparel.com

  • Marco Ricchetti

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/66d7e3c5f89263437c38dd8340126b0a656709b71e4247e777d692b0204b9375.jpg Are You coming to Pitti Uomo 92 in Florence? On june 13 h:14-16 within the Fortezza da Basso (Press meeting Room, Area Monumentale, 1stFloor) my new book on Sustainable Materials for Fashion in the Circular Economy will be presented wihch includes several case studies. RadiciGroup, Adidas, Vibram, Tessitura Canepa, Dienpi Labels will join the discussion

  • gabriella

    I am a final year student at London College of Fashion doing research for my grad collection, if anyone reading produces organic, sustainable garments or fabrics i’d love to talk to someone about sourcing! Please contact me at g.coryapace1@arts.ac.uk if you have any information about eco friendly fabric. Especially innovative techniques or new material possibilities (seaweed, or tech assisted innovation, etc). Thanks!

    • Anna Luckai

      I’m sending you an email.

  • Such a great article! I’m a huge believer that the future lies in sustainability, and the final paragraph was really reassuring, considering the fact that I’m in the sustainable accessories business, hoping to expand into footwear in the future! 🙂

    • Carlene (Team WGSN)

      Hi @disqus_mQr1ADutL1:disqus thanks for the kind words about the article, your vegan accessories line looks super interesting

  • Pingback: sustainable fashion as the next retail frontier – BEATRIZ HERNANDEZ ARROYO()

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  • Paula Punch

    Exciting new opportunities for new brands….Thanks for article!

  • Pingback: El retail ha muerto. Larga vida al retail - Flow, The Retail Partner()

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