Influencing Change: How Consumer Behavior Drives Sustainable Fashion Market Trend

The sustainable fashion market is fiercely competitive, particularly in e-commerce, making it one of the world's most competitive industries, supported by extensive fashion market research.

Shireen Noushad
August 27, 2023
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Sustainable fashion is a comprehensive concept that encompasses products, processes, and various stakeholders (such as policymakers, brands, and consumers) striving for a carbon-neutral fashion sector. It emphasizes equality, social justice, animal welfare, and ecological integrity. The fashion industry is experiencing a profound transformation driven by the growing interest in sustainable fashion. This shift is not only influenced by consumer demand but also by the findings of extensive fashion market research. Beyond textiles, sustainability in fashion addresses the entire product lifecycle, spanning production, consumption, and disposal practices, including minimizing landfill waste.

Fast Fashion  

Fast fashion refers to fashion retailers' quick creation and distribution of low-cost, stylish clothes in response to the newest fashion trends. It is distinguished by its speedy, frequently within weeks, transition of designs from the runway to retail shelves. Cheap labour, low-cost materials, and effective supply chain management are the cornerstones of this strategy. Fast fashion encourages customers to buy and toss apparel frequently, which adds to excessive waste and environmental issues. While it provides quick and inexpensive access to fashionable clothing, it has drawn criticism for its unsustainable business practises, such as exploitation of its workers, environmental damage, and a trash culture.


Disadvantages of Fast Fashion  

  • Fast fashion's economic impact: It drains $500 billion annually, causing financial strain on both consumers and economies worldwide.
  • Low clothing recycling: A mere 1% of textiles are reused for new garments, highlighting the wastefulness of the fashion industry.
  • Carbon emissions culprit: Fashion contributes to 10% of global carbon emissions, underscoring its significant environmental footprint.
  • Rapid landfill accumulation: Within a year, 60% of clothing produced ends up in landfills, worsening waste management challenges.
  • Escalating production: Fast fashion doubled its production between 2000 and 2014, driving overconsumption and waste.
  • Soaring consumer purchases: The average individual now buys 60% more clothing, driving excessive demand and textile waste.
  • Water-intensive cotton: Crafting one cotton t-shirt consumes a staggering 2,700 liters of water, stressing water resources.
  • Microfiber pollution: Synthetic textiles contribute to microfiber pollution in oceans, posing a growing ecological threat.
  • Water-hungry industry: Fashion ranks as the world's second-largest consumer of water, straining water supplies globally.
  • Urgency for waste reduction: Tackling clothing waste is essential to mitigate fast fashion's adverse environmental consequences and promote sustainability.

Sustainable Fashion

A new report by Bain & Company and WWF Italy reveals that consumer demand for sustainable fashion is set to rise sharply, possibly reaching 50%. Currently, 15% of fashion consumers express sustainability concerns. The study surveyed 5,900 consumers across seven countries, with 65% showing some environmental concern, though not all prioritize sustainability regularly.  

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Bain & Company emphasizes the need for fashion brands to embrace sustainability, particularly as younger generations show growing interest. The WWF highlights the urgency for brands to act sustainably to ensure their own survival and build loyalty among conscious consumers.

Benefits of Sustainable Fashion

Enhanced Manufacturing Techniques  

Fashion industry companies are changing their production methods to tackle the problem of waste. They recognize that adopting innovative approaches to reduce emissions can have positive environmental outcomes. Moreover, this shift can enhance their brand reputation. Prioritizing better working conditions and sustainable practices is also central to their efforts. Manufacturers are actively involved in efficient waste disposal and sourcing materials ethically.

Reduction in Plastic Waste  

Research indicates that a staggering 100 million pairs of shoes alone are discarded each year. Clothing and other fashion accessories are a different story. Many of these shoes are constructed from polymers derived from crude oil, which are resistant to biodegradation and have severe environmental consequences. However, ethical shoe brands are actively decreasing their reliance on plastic. They minimize waste by opting for environmentally friendly and recyclable materials.

Enhanced Satisfaction  

As a consumer, you wouldn't want to support a company that pollutes the environment. Like many others, you aspire to contribute to the preservation of nature. Consequently, switching to eco-friendly fashion brands can provide a sense of personal satisfaction. It's gratifying to purchase with the knowledge that you're not causing harm to the environment or mistreating animals.

Consumer Behavior in the Fashion Industry

In a fashion market research study carried out by Tien Tran on ‘Consumer Behavior in Sustainable Fashion Industry’ at the Vaasa University of Applied Sciences, Finland – it was shown that customers across various industries, including fashion, increasingly prioritize sustainability. Fast fashion, known for cheap and trendy clothing, has surged in popularity due to its affordability and quick style turnover. A study revealed a sustainability trend in the fashion sector, with 90.2% of participants indicating they sometimes (40.0%), often (40.5%), or always (9.7%) buy from fast fashion, while few rarely (9.2%) or never (0.5%) do. This trend surpasses the 66% mark of all respondents and the 75% of millennials considering sustainability when fashion shopping.

Factors influencing consumer behavior in sustainable fashion were examined, including personal, psychological, social, and cultural aspects.

  • Personal Factors: Age, income, lifestyle, and more impact purchasing intentions in fast fashion and sustainable fashion. Correlations and regression analysis confirm their significance.
  • Psychological Factors: Motivation, perception, learning, beliefs, and attitude affect fashion buying behavior positively. Their mean values exceed 3.0, and both correlation and regression analyses reinforce their importance.
  • Social Factors: Reference groups, family, roles, and status influence fashion buying. Participants acknowledge their impact, with strong correlations and a robust association found in regression analysis.
  • Cultural Factors: Culture, subculture, and social class significantly shape behavior in the fashion industry. Participants accept these influences, which align with Thomas's insights on how culture guides fashion product objectives.


Surge in ‘Sustainable’ Searches  

Over the past few years, more and more people have been searching for terms like "ethical clothing" and "sustainable fashion" on search engines. This increased search volume reveals a rise in consumer knowledge in clothing options that adhere to moral and ethical standards. People are actively looking for knowledge about companies, products, and practices in sustainable fashion.  

These numbers are important as they reflect a change in consumer behaviour and preferences. Customers now are also considering the social and environmental implications of their fashion selections. This rising awareness is the primary motivator behind the fashion industry's transition to more sustainable practices.  

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Sales of Eco-Friendly Fashion Brands and Products

There has been a substantial growth in the sale of eco-friendly brands and products in the recent years. This growth signifies a significant market shift towards sustainability. Consumers are not just expressing interest through online searches; they are also backing their preferences with purchasing power.

The increase in sales can be attributed to consumers are becoming more informed about the environmental and social implications of their clothing choices. They are seeking out brands that prioritize sustainability, whether through the use of eco-friendly materials, ethical production processes, or transparent supply chains.

Furthermore, as sustainability becomes more mainstream, eco-friendly fashion is no longer a niche market. It has gained wider acceptance, attracting a broader customer base. Brands that embrace sustainability are reaping the benefits of increased sales and market share, demonstrating the business case for eco-conscious practices.

The Future of Sustainable Fashion You Need to Know

  • Growth Trajectory: The sustainable fashion industry, valued at $6.5 billion, is poised for remarkable expansion, projected to reach $10.1 billion by 2025 and a substantial $15 billion by 2030.
  • Product Preference: Products labeled as sustainable are forecasted to outpace non-sustainable ones, growing at a rate 5.6 times faster.
  • Global Ethical Fashion: Asia Pacific commands the largest share of the global ethical fashion market, accounting for 36% of this burgeoning sector.
  • Profit Potential: Brands establishing trust within the sustainable fashion domain can be not only socially responsible but also highly profitable, thanks to significant opportunities in eco-friendly segments.
  • Eco-Friendly Segment: Eco-friendly clothing sales are anticipated to grow substantially, adding $1,574.2 million to global annual sales by 2025.
  • Organic Growth: The organic clothing segment, with a projected annual growth rate of 16.2%, stands out as the fastest-growing niche.
  • Baby Clothing Market: Organic baby clothing, valued at $1.79 billion in 2022, is set to reach $2.81 billion by 2029, highlighting the broader trend toward organic fashion.
  • Economic Impact: Addressing the issues associated with fast fashion has the potential to inject a substantial $192 billion boost into the global economy by 2030, fostering sustainability and economic prosperity.

Importance of Fashion Market Research  

Market Responsiveness to Trends in Sustainable Fashion

According to fashion market research, influencers—who can be anyone with a sizable following in addition to fashion bloggers—have a considerable impact on customer purchasing decisions. Social media and runway trends have historically influenced the fashion business. But the COVID-19 pandemic, which was discovered through fashion market research, significantly reduced sales for both online and offline fashion retailers. Lifestyles and purchasing patterns of consumers have changed, with a growing preference for environmentally friendly and sustainable fashion. For brands to succeed in the market for sustainable fashion, they must nimbly adjust to these developments.

Diverse Customer Segments in Sustainable Fashion

Consumer tastes in sustainable fashion are varied. Some people who once favoured fast fashion are now ecologically conscientious and like custom or used clothig. According to industry study on sustainable fashion, today's consumers are erratic; they can make a different purchase tomorrow. For long-term engagement and interest in sustainable fashion, it is essential to comprehend their developing requirements and ideals.

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Intense Competition in Sustainable Fashion Market

The sustainable fashion market is highly competitive, with numerous brands and stores vying for attention. In some instances, even similar brands have multiple stores within walking distance of each other. When considering the e-commerce segment, brands can enter and exit the market with relative ease. This results in one of the most competitive industries globally, as evidenced by comprehensive fashion market research.

Connecting with the Target Audience in Sustainable Fashion

Fashion market research offers an intelligent means to connect with the target audience in sustainable fashion. Brands can leverage large-scale online surveys, often accompanied by discount codes, to engage with customers and gain valuable insights. These surveys can delve into various aspects, including preferred styles, products, and the reception of recent advertisements, enhancing brands' understanding of their eco-conscious target audience in sustainable fashion.

Understanding Consumer Preferences: Fashion Market Research  

Surveys and Questionnaires for Comprehensive Insights

Conducting surveys and questionnaires is a fundamental aspect of 'fashion market research.' These tools are indispensable for unraveling intricate details about consumer behavior, shopping habits, and sustainable preferences. By systematically posing questions to a representative sample of the target audience, brands can gather valuable data to inform their strategies.

Fashion market research surveys delve into consumers' shopping patterns, uncovering key trends and shifts in preferences. For instance, they may inquire about the frequency of sustainable fashion purchases, preferred sustainable materials, or even factors that motivate eco-conscious buying decisions. The insights garnered through these surveys form the bedrock upon which brands can tailor their sustainable fashion offerings.

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Social Media Engagement as a Real-Time Barometer

Social media platforms are indispensable tools for fashion market research and understanding consumer preferences. Brands actively engage with their audience on these platforms to gauge sentiment and demand. The interactions on social media provide real-time feedback on the reception of sustainable fashion initiatives and products.

By monitoring comments, likes, shares, and direct messages, fashion brands gain immediate insights into consumer reactions. Fashion market research leverages social media as a barometer of trends and sentiments, helping brands stay agile in responding to emerging preferences. Additionally, social media serves as a channel for educating consumers about sustainable practices, reinforcing their commitment to eco-friendly choices.

Focus Groups for Profound Consumer Insights

When fashion market research requires a deeper understanding of consumer mindsets, focus groups come into play. These in-depth sessions gather a select group of participants who engage in open discussions and provide qualitative insights.

Focus groups offer a nuanced view of consumer attitudes and motivations. Brands can explore participants' emotional connections to sustainable fashion and uncover underlying factors that influence their choices. These sessions go beyond numerical data, providing qualitative context to complement quantitative fashion market research findings.

With insights from surveys, social media interactions, and focus groups, brands can create a comprehensive understanding of consumer preferences in the sustainable fashion niche. This multifaceted approach to fashion market research ensures that brands can navigate the evolving landscape of sustainable fashion, meeting the desires of their eco-conscious audience effectively.

Streamlining Fashion Market Research with Decode

Decode emerges as an indispensable resource for fashion brands looking to streamline their 'fashion market research' efforts. It acts as a centralized platform that simplifies the complex process of gathering and analyzing consumer data.

By utilizing Decode, fashion brands can efficiently manage their research initiatives, ensuring that every aspect of consumer preferences, from shopping habits to sustainable choices, is comprehensively covered. This streamlining of research processes saves time and resources, enabling brands to make data-driven decisions swiftly.

Leveraging Cutting-Edge Technology for In-Depth Analysis

Decode incorporates cutting-edge technology that goes beyond traditional research methods. It harnesses advanced techniques such as facial coding, eye-tracking, and Voice AI to extract deeper insights from consumer feedback.

Facial coding enables brands to decode consumers' emotional responses, uncovering their genuine reactions to sustainable fashion initiatives. Eye-tracking technology offers a unique perspective by highlighting the elements that capture consumers' attention. Voice AI analyzes vocal cues, providing clues about consumer sentiments that may not be apparent through text alone.

Efficient Processing of Large Data Volumes

Deciphering vast amounts of information is a challenge, since its all about big data now. Here, Decode's capabilities shine. It possesses the ability to efficiently process large volumes of data derived from fashion market research.

Through data visualization tools and custom reporting features, Decode translates raw data into actionable insights. Visual representations aid in comprehending complex trends and patterns quickly. Custom reports provide tailored information relevant to specific research objectives.

Decode also facilitates seamless sharing of insights with stakeholders, ensuring that decision-makers within the fashion brand have access to the knowledge required to make informed choices.

In essence, Decode serves as a powerful ally for fashion brands when it comes to fashion market research. It not only streamlines research processes but also leverages advanced technology to delve deeper into consumer preferences. By efficiently processing extensive data and providing actionable insights, Decode equips fashion brands with the tools necessary to navigate the dynamic landscape of sustainable fashion successfully.


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Author Bio

Shireen Noushad
Shireen adores writing and currently, she’s all about making B2B content fun, engaging, and 100% non-boring. She's intrigued by the scope of AI(not scared, yet), and how it helps advance operations on all fronts across industries. On a typical day, she scours the internet for anything and everything AI-related, and goes on a loop of writing and re-writing cause it’s just not perfect.

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