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Millennial consumers are much more aware of the textile industry’s environmental and social shortcomings than their parents’ generation, a new study has found.

The latest Oeko-Tex global consumer survey – ‘The Key To Confidence: Consumers and Textile Sustainability – Attitudes, Changing Behaviors, and Outlooks’  – found millennials are more inclined to consider the textile industry to be a major polluter. As a result, they are more concerned about harmful substances in their clothing and home textile products.

The results, which sampled over 11,000 consumers worldwide, make up the second round of findings for Oeko-Tex’s ongoing study on current and future textile and apparel buying patterns.

The research, conducted in the second half of 2017, profiles two of the most powerful consumer groups – millennials and parents – who will influence global textile markets for decades to come.

Of the total sample, around 30% fell into the age group born between 1981-2000, otherwise known as millennials. In the second round of findings, Oeko-Tex shared how millennials think differently about textile sustainability and how parenthood affects those attitudes.

It found that parenthood tends to intensify worries about all things. Parents of young children in particular voice concerns about harmful substances in a wide variety of products, but especially in home textiles and apparel. Parents’ product safety qualms outpace the concerns of non-parents. Their awareness of, and reported purchase of, ‘eco-friendly’ clothing and home textiles is substantially higher than people without young children in the house.

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Correspondingly, interest in certified textiles is higher with both millennials and parents. “Both of these time-starved consumer groups are seeking shortcuts to trust and transparency,” says global brand and sustainability research expert Ellen Karp. “Millennials and parents want to do the right thing for society and the planet as well as for their families. Brands and certifiers play important roles in communicating the information that helps these engaged consumers make the responsible purchase decisions they are eager to make.”

Anna Czerwinska, head of marketing and communication at Oeko-Tex, adds: “The information reinforces the important role that independent Oeko-Tex certifications and labels can play in helping millennials and parents select sustainable textile products that are better for their families and the planet.”

Results published from the study in November revealed climate change is a bigger concern for clothing consumers than recent reports had indicated, with the issue ranking third on a list of 16 modern-day worries.

Climate change top of mind for apparel consumers