Sustainability 2018: Adapting to a new ecosystem


Sustainability continues to play a key role on the UK high street, growing 128.4% within the new-in womenswear market YOY. However, no longer is it about simply working on sustainable collections, but creating new ethical ecosystems that encompass a holistic view– incorporating fairtrade practices and sustainable manufacturing.


Here are our four key strategies for success in this shifting market:


Pressures on disposable incomes continue, lessening sustainability as a priority in shopping as affordability and necessity is favoured. Sustainable products will need to encompass more than just its sustainable status to drive demand. Retailers must ensure that style and value for money are also adhered to in order to drive demand and should push via aspirational editorials and social media channels to visualise this.


There is no doubt that sustainability is no longer a niche concern; however, authenticity is more important than sustainability. It is vital for retailers to understand their customers and their needs– and tailor ethical/ sustainable initiatives to them for greatest resonance. For some, this could mean affiliation with charities, for others it may translate to innovations in fabric and production and, for some, it could be concerning supply chain transparency. Companies that push sustainability simply through an increase in products (withouts a story and connection to the retailer’s consumers), will prove inauthentic and ultimately fail.


In a saturated fashion market, consumers increasingly relate to brands on an emotional level, focusing less on what they are buying and more on what they’re buying into. Sustainability lends itself perfectly to this concept but retailers have to make it an authentic, core value of their business for consumers to believe and buy into it. To emotionally connect to shoppers, retailers should use content to tell stories of their processes; bringing a human touch to their brand’s identity and creating destination appeal.


Brands must be investing in sustainable innovations, bringing experimental elements to sustainability in order to drive excitement. Gone are the days where recycled cotton has to lead the way and now pathways are paved to introduce fresh alternatives, such as fishnets recovered from the ocean beds or sustainable activewear collections. When worthy investments have been made, higher price points can be justified as consumers look to buy less but better product.


Know what’s next. Become a WGSN member today to benefit from our daily trend intelligence, retail analytics, consumer insights and bespoke consultancy services.

WGSN Insider Bulletin

Experience the leading provider of consumer foresight.

Related Stories

New film Interior Motives explores the links between fashion and interiors

Three inspiring eco collections from the bioFASHIONtech Summit

Design activism from Africa