Sustainability is the new must-have look for high-end apparel brands.

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A growing number of consumers are factoring sustainability considerations into their purchasing decisions. Whether it’s landfill waste, green manufacturing, or social justice, there is a rising awareness that the products we buy have far-reaching impacts on the world we share.

In light of this trend, we recently looked at how affluent consumers view sustainability in the luxury apparel market. Our most recent survey found that 61% of luxury apparel shoppers said sustainability plays an important role in their clothing choices, and 56% say it’s more important today compared to a year ago.

It’s clear that luxury apparel brands need to address sustainability as part of their overall business strategy. Companies are already responding with innovative products and programs that minimize waste, extend product life and reduce their environmental impact.

Gucci’s “Off The Grid” collection leverages the eco appeal of recycled and plant-based materials to target socially conscious luxury consumers who still place a premium on designer style. Patagonia’s WornWear program lets customers exchange their used garments for store credit. The products are then refurbished and resold, keeping them out of the landfill.

Defining Sustainability

It’s important to note that the concept of sustainability means different things to different people. When we asked luxury apparel shoppers to define sustainability, they said:

–”Sustainability means the clothing is harmless to the environment.”

–”It’s made of materials that can be harvested again and again.”

–”It’s durable and luxurious.”

–”It will last multiple seasons without maintenance.”

This diversity of opinion gives apparel manufacturers the flexibility to approach sustainability in a way that aligns with their brand and business operations. If using renewable materials isn’t a viable option, a brand could show sustainability by promoting the durability of its products or its commitment to social issues like living wages.

How Luxury Consumers Describe Sustainable Clothing

With such flexibility in consumer perceptions of sustainability, we wondered what approaches would appeal most strongly to luxury apparel shoppers. How can brands demonstrate their commitment to sustainability in ways that both connect with consumers and improve their bottom lines?

To find out, we asked luxury apparel shoppers to evaluate two different prospective concepts that an apparel company might use to incorporate sustainability in their business: An in-house vintage store selling authenticated pre-owned items directly from the brand, and an online store featuring “upcycled” designer products made from reclaimed fabric taken from unsold garments.

For a detailed look at how each concept was received, download the case study below.

To learn how our luxury market research and analysis can help your brand develop an informed approach to sustainability, or any other topic, contact us to schedule a consultation.

Download the Case Study


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