How Gen Z Shoppers Are Fueling the Sustainable Fashion Movement

Between the widespread use of hazardous synthetic chemicals and the massive amounts of carbon emissions in the textile sector, it’s no surprise an increasing number of shoppers are thinking twice before they buy.

In fact, a new study by information technology firm CGS discovered that consumers actively seek sustainable products, with more than a third of respondents willing to pay 25 percent more than original price for eco-friendly items. Surveying upwards of 1,000 respondents aged 18 and up, researchers also found that almost 70 percent believe sustainability was an “important” factor to consider when making a purchase.

“Today’s buyers are driven by more than price — they’re looking for brands that align with their own values and needs,” said Paul Magel, president of the business applications division at CGS. “To create a loyal customer base, brands must be transparent about the materials and development behind their products.”

Among the most eco-conscious shoppers were Gen Zers. About 68 percent of the demographic have made an eco-friendly purchase in the past year. While price remains the top factor for shoppers, more than 20 percent of Gen Z consumers singled out “ethical business and manufacturing” as a top purchasing consideration. They were also more likely to stay loyal to retailers that champion sustainability as well as prioritize a company’s brand name and mission.

According to the report, Nike ranked No. 1 among fashion, apparel and footwear brands that came to respondents’ minds upon mention of sustainability. The sportswear giant has used plastic bottles, manufacturing scraps and used product to create new pieces, including those in its popular Air collection. (Around 75 percent of all Nike shoes and clothing contain some recycled material.)

Toms and Patagonia were also honorable mentions. In 2015, the former committed to the United Nations General Assembly’s Sustainable Development Goals initiative to promote responsible consumption and production, while the latter’s Woolyester fabric — a blend of wool, polyester and nylon — uses approximately 50 percent of waste materials to reduce the costly impact of wool production.

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