The UK retail scene is experiencing a shift in attitudes with shoppers increasingly choosing more expensive, long-lasting clothes, over cheaper fashionable items, with recycling also a more common theme.
Research by the Fashion Retail Academy shows the number of sustainable shoppers in Britain has jumped by one-third in just 12 months, threatening to spell the end of fast fashion.
“The sustainability agenda has made massive strides worldwide in the past year, with campaigners including Greta Thunberg capturing the public imagination and convincing millions more people to live environmentally friendly lives,” the Academy says. “As a result, there has been a huge shift in Brits’ shopping habits, with millions more choosing quality over quantity.”
The research shows that more than half of Brits (51.4%) are choosing long-lasting clothes over cheaper fashionable items, up 33.8% on a year ago. While the proportion of shoppers who consciously opt for fast fashion — typically cheaper, more fashionable items — has fallen 46.2% in the same period to 14% of consumers.
Meanwhile, Brits are now less likely to throw away their clothes than they were last year, with almost three quarters (71.3%) of consumers choosing to recycle compared to 59.7% last year – a 19.4% increase.
And shoppers are just as inclined to buy second-hand clothes rather than buying new, with over two thirds (66%) of the UK rifling through rails in charity shops or browsing second-hand clothes apps online.
Women are leading this sustainable clothing revolution, as 25.4% more women wear second-hand clothes than men, and 31.4% more women recycle their clothes.
“The focus on sustainability has finally been embraced by consumers in a big way and we’ve witnessed a big shift in shopping habits over the past year,” says Lee Lucas, principal of the Fashion Retail Academy.
“Shoppers are moving away from fast fashion and there are new waves of consumers who are willing to invest in higher quality items, acknowledging that more expensive price tags might mean more mileage from certain items of clothing.
“This shift towards quality over quantity, recycling and buying second-hand is not just about saving money, it is a reflection of how customers are increasingly mindful of fashion waste and the supply chain.”
The survey was carried out by Onepoll who sampled 2,000 UK adults, from 22-24 January 2020.