“Several new online fashion retailers are capitalizing on consumers’ desires to purchase clothing that lasts”, according to Elizabeth Cline of the Atlantic. This article discussed the wasteful and detrimental nature of current clothing trends and the push to become more sustainable and ethically conscious. The first thing the article sites is a survey that found that the majority of women’s clothing is worn seven times before being pushed to the back of the closet or disposed of and it goes into these “throwaway fads”.
Cheap clothing overflows our closets despite the environmental and ethical costs of child labor. Luckily, there have been several brands making a change in this cultural misfortune. Several brands mentioned are “The 30 Year Sweatshirt” by Tom Cridland, “Cuyana” by Karla Gallardo, Zady.com, Warby Parker’s eyeglasses, and Greats’ sneakers. All of these brands focus on durability, ultra-high quality, and sustainability, all at a still relatively affordable cost. The first band, “The 30 Year Sweatshirt” sells Italian organic cotton sweatshirts that were handmade in Portugal that will last until 2046.
Cridland has sold around 5,000 already and expects $1 million in revenue just for this year. Other product lines are coming out soon and celebrities such as Leonardo DiCaprio and Hugh Grant have been seen wearing them. Cuyana similarly utilizes premium materials with a focus on good relationships with ethical factories. Zady.com also has ethical relationships, going as far as providing backstories and photographs for its suppliers. The article delves into the deflation of clothing costs for around twenty years before edging up more recently and the spending habits of consumers.
On average, Americans currently purchase double the amount of clothing per year than they did in the 1990s, and there I no real idea clothing per year than they did in the of investing in fewer quality pieces. Luckily, a recent survey, responded that they are willing to pay more for socially and environmentally conscious products and services.
All of these things are evidence that brands and consumers are shifting in the same direction. There is a desire to become less impulsive and more sustainable. When looking at the buying process, many consumers may go through the steps without ever finding a good alternative to the quick and disposable trends that seem to overwhelm the current market. First of all, consumers may experience problem recognition. The article brings up child labor and factory fires and big brands such as H&M popping up in the news for such atrocities. This could lead to distrust in the brand and subsequently an aversion to the brand, leading to information search. If potential buyers were looking at places to shop for clothing they could go to brick-and-mortar stores or the internet. Physical storefronts typically consist of stores with the same problems as H&M and other trendy and disposable brands, which leaves the internet as a reliable search engine. After delving in and seeing all of the alternatives it should be easier for the consumer to pick and choose a list of criteria to fulfill. During this evaluation of alternatives, the previous criteria that the average consumer may have could be price point and trendiness. However, with the new mindset toward a more ethically and environmentally friendly option, the criteria rule out some of the usual brands. This leaves generally higher-priced items that may not be as trendy and in the moment, but are more timeless investments. More thought has to be put into the product choice and purchase step in the buying process, which is the goal of these brands. They want consumers to take their time and truly invest their hard-earned money into something that they will cherish for years to come whether it be a sweatshirt with a thirty-year warranty or shoes made in a warehouse in Switzerland that you have seen real pictures of. Ultimately, these brands want to impress the consumers and create genuine and lasting relationships while making a positive impact on the world.
This raises a couple of questions. First of all, how will the giant brands that have thrived on child labor and cheap trendy products be taken down? Some of these companies have become so large that regardless of whether or not there is a push to become more socially conscious, there will always be people purchasing their goods simply because they are so cheap. There will always be a demand and many consumers will not be so easily deterred. Second of all, how can we be accountable for these socially conscious and sustainable brands? After demand increases and overhead and production costs build up, how can we be sure that some of them do not turn to the old ways of cheap labor and subpar quality goods? Lastly, is there a way to shift the entire price point in the consumer mindset? In the same way that it is now acceptable to pay $4-5 for a cup of coffee at Starbucks, is it possible to shift the mindset to spend an average amount of $40-80 on a sweater?
All of these things will play a part in this trend and I think that the impact on the brands mentioned before will be large. Some of these brands are very small and although they are mostly online boutiques, it will be more difficult to manage as volume increases tenfold and then even more. It will be a wonderful push towards sustainability and social consciousness, but there will need to be measures put in place to make sure that these brands are upholding the standards that they have set.