For decades, fashion has been in conflict with environment since the former promotes short lifecycles while the latter promotes sustainability, durability, and product reuse. However, the change in consumer behavior and interest in green fashion has resulted in ethical consumption. As Yang et al. (2017) elucidates, global consumers have become conscious of the need for environmental protection, economic sustainability, and social responsibility. As a result, consumers seek environmentally friendly products, including organically grown products, paper, hairsprays, and clothing (Yange et al., 2017). While the industry has not received full acceptance, some brands devoted to remaining green such as Patagonia, Veja, H&M, and Zara continue to flourish.
Two factors characterize the modern fashion industry: globalization and rabid consumerism. Global consumers have become obsessed with low-cost and fast trends. However, the trend has witnessed great criticism due to environmental and ethical issues inherent with such consumerism (Kutsenkova, 2017). Moreover, the fashion industry has been censured for overexploitation of employees, increased textile waste, exhaustion of natural resources, and destruction of the ecosystem (Kutsenkova, 2017). As a result, green fashion has found an avenue for gaining traction. As Cheng (2019) informs, sustainability has become a common refrain within the fashion arena. However, a significant supply gap exists and is yet to be achieved.
Cheng informs that in 2019, despite the five-fold increase in the supply of green fashion products, only 1 percent of the new products were considered sustainable. The statistics indicates the untapped potential of green fashion. As a result, the fashion industry has a long way to achieve the demand for green fashion. Moreover, Cheng (2019) informs that for the past three years, the online search for sustainable fashion has tripled, which shows the growing interest among consumers. The industry is also highly enticing for both consumers and producers. Notably, Cheng (2017) notes that half the industry players are transitioning to sustainable products, and they intend to see half of their products fully produced from sustainable materials.
Companies, such as H&M and Zara have remained profitable for many years by operating within the green fashion. For over a decade, H&M has continually recorded increased sales of its products, such as the Desmond & Dempsey x H&M t-shirt shown in Figure 1 below.
Figure 1: Desmond & Depsey x H&M. Cotton T-Shirt. Retrieved from H&M
According to O’Connel (2020), the global sales of H&M started low in 2006 when it recorded gross sales worth 8.8 billion. However, the sales have steadily grown to reach 24.3 billion. The market trend indicates the thriving nature of green fashion. Similarly, Zara, a high-end street fashion, strives to achieve 100 percent sustainability for all its products (Conlon, 2019). In 2018, the company’s annual sales grew by 3 percent to 26.1 billion euros. The increase in sales comes after consumers continue to become more inclined to responsible consumerism. For instance, Figure 2 indicates one of Zara’s recycled polyester wear.
Figure 2: Zara’s Recycled Polyester Wear. Retrieved from Zara
Currently, customers and companies have learned the need to remain conscious no matter the choice of fashion they adopt. Companies, such as Zara and H&M have realized the negative impression created by the fashion industry. As a result, their intention to become entirely green companies proves that they have realized how profitable and desirable green fashion has become. Hence, green fashion is a viable market whose potential to thrive is barely tapped.
Conlon, S. (2019, July 17). Zara clothes to be made from 100 % sustainable fabrics by 2025. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2019/jul/17/zara-collections-to-be-made-from-100-sustainable-fabrics
O’Connel, L. (2020, July 23). Sales of the H&M Group worldwide from 2007 to 2019 (in million U.S. dollars). Statistica. Retrieved from https://www.statista.com/statistics/252190/gross-sales-of-the-h-und-m-group-worldwide/
Cheng, A. (2019, October 17). More consumers want sustainable fashion, but are brands delivering it? Forbes. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/andriacheng/2019/10/17/more-consumers-want-sustainable-fashion-but-are-brands-delivering-it/#417c1b6634a5