Fashion Challenge: How Businesses Can Align With Consumer Choice?

Sustainability has become a trend that every company is jumping on to continue to exist in the market in the future. It is not only the legal regulations that force an entrepreneur to be more sustainable but also the consumers who demand ecological and social action.

In this article, we are going to explain/show why it's difficult for the fashion industry to keep up with customer needs, how sustainable practices in the eyes of its audience can change a brand's image, and what steps you need to take to go green today.

Three challenges that consumers pose to fashion businesses

The recent Business of Sustainability Index by GreenPrint, a PDI company, revealed that a significant 80% of surveyed young adults in the United States aged 18 to 34 express a willingness to invest more in sustainable products compared to their less sustainable counterparts. Moreover, 69 percent of the surveyed said a product’s environmental impact is vital to their purchasing decision.

It's not easy to meet changing consumer preferences and transform the manufacturing process simultaneously. We compiled three main reasons that put businesses in a tough spot along with the consumer demand shift.

Cost considerations
Eco-friendly manufacturing processes often involve using sustainable materials, ethical labor practices, and environmentally friendly technologies. While these practices align with the preferences of eco-conscious consumers, they can sometimes be more expensive than traditional methods. Fashion businesses may struggle to balance the increased costs associated with sustainable practices while remaining competitive in a price-sensitive market.

Slow technological adaptation
In an effort to adopt eco-friendly practices, fashion companies are faced with the complexity of globalised supply chains involving different suppliers, manufacturers and distributors. Complex logistics require careful coordination of processes as they adapt to new technologies. In addition, companies have the added responsibility of complying with environmental legislation. These labour-intensive adjustments can lead to order delays and negative feedback as the industry makes slow progress towards green practices.

Consumer education and perception
Aligning with eco-conscious consumers requires effective communication and education. However, there can be a gap in understanding between what constitutes eco-friendly practices and consumer perceptions.

Additionally, consumers might not be fully aware of the efforts made by fashion businesses to adopt sustainable measures. Bridging this gap and conveying the true sustainability efforts of a brand can be a communication challenge for fashion businesses. Misunderstanding or skepticism about «greenwashing» may complicate efforts to align with eco-conscious consumers.

Sustainability is not just a matter of fashion

Nowadays, competitiveness is inextricably linked to sustainability and will be even more so in the future. Companies that do not take sufficient care of environmental and/or employee concerns will have little chance of growing in Europe in the future. Therefore, it is necessary to incorporate sustainability into the corporate philosophy.

A sustainability orientation of your company offers the following opportunities:
  • Tapping into fast-growing green markets
  • Increasing sales and profits through environmentally friendly products and services
  • Reducing costs through material and energy-efficient processes
  • Securing and strengthening competitiveness through convincing sustainability arguments
  • Developing new sources of financing, such as specialized funding programs for green and sustainable start-ups
The benefits of an ecologically sustainable business strategy for companies are manifold. On the one hand, they can save costs by implementing energy efficiency measures and reducing waste. On the other hand, they can improve their image and reputation by being perceived as an environmentally conscious company.

74% of consumers express concern about the environmental impact of their products, yet a notable 79 percent of those surveyed say that they need a more straightforward method to identify environmentally friendly companies, indicating a solid inclination to support businesses aligned with their values.

To bridge this gap, understanding customers, their values, and preferences becomes crucial. Dress2Save provides companies with diverse solutions to gain a deeper understanding of their consumers, enabling targeted and successful communication.

Expert Tips on Building an Eco-Conscious Brand Image

Dress2Save is happy to share a few recommendations on how fashion businesses can become more sustainable (and win more customer’s hearts):

  • Circular design and materials. Prioritize circular design principles to ensure products are durable, easily repairable, and recyclable. Emphasize the use of sustainable materials, reducing dependence on virgin resources.
  • Sustainable production. Encourage eco-friendly manufacturing processes, minimizing water and energy consumption.
  • Consumer awareness and empowerment. Foster awareness among consumers about thoughtful choices. Promote the adoption of innovative technologies that empower consumers to make environmentally conscious decisions.
  • Waste prevention and recycling. Implement strategies to minimize textile waste, including collection, sorting, and recycling programs. Support conscious consumption and promote well-thought-out purchases instead of emotional ones.
  • Collaboration and innovation. Encourage cooperation between stakeholders in the fashion industry, including businesses, eco-friendly initiatives, and research institutions. Support innovative approaches for informed shopping, fostering a culture of responsible consumerism.

The benefits of conscious fashion: a practical example

The AI-powered digital plugin combines customer data, market data, and analysis capabilities to enable fashion businesses to make data-driven decisions. The solution helps look into the future market development in the tech and durables sectors. This is not a look into the crystal ball but rather a data-based outlook to the nearest future.

We would like to draw your attention to large companies and marketplaces whose collections are mainly fast fashion. Such companies' production model, characterized by rapidly creating small batches of items that later lead to mass production, contributes significantly to its carbon footprint.

For example, a well-known company like Shein produces each item in limited quantities before mass-producing popular ones, utilizing virgin polyester and consuming substantial amounts of oil. This manufacturing approach results in approximately 6.3 million tons of CO2 emissions annually, falling short of the UN's recommended 45% reduction target for fashion companies by 2030.

For the reasons we described above, it can be difficult for such big players in the fashion market to meet audience expectations.

What benefits could a Dress2Save solution bring to fashion businesses?

Positive brand image
Embracing sustainable practices can enhance a large brand's entire image and reputation. In the current market, consumers are increasingly concerned about environmental issues, which aligns with the core values of Dress2Save. By promoting conscious consumption practices, a brand can confidently position itself as socially responsible, potentially attracting a wider customer base.

Compliance with regulations and standards
Adhering to sustainable practices ensures that a fashion company complies with evolving environmental regulations and industry standards, for example, those set by the Fashion Sustainability and Social Accountability Act or the Fashioning Accountability and Building Real Institutional Change Act (FABRIC Act). This can mitigate legal risks, providing the company with a stable and responsible operational framework.

Cost savings through efficiency
Implementing sustainable practices may significantly optimize resource use and reduce waste. Fashion businesses can benefit from cost savings in the long run by minimizing energy consumption, optimizing supply chain logistics, and embracing circular economy principles. Alternative energy sources can lead to reduced operational costs and increased profitability.

Access to new markets through new partnerships
Micro- and large influencers, with their niche following and shared interests, often cultivate brand loyalty by fostering deeper connections, trust, and credibility. Similarly, businesses can attract collaborations with environmentally conscious retailers to enter markets with stringent environmental regulations, as their specialized audience allows for authentic connections based on shared ecological values. This can enhance trust and credibility in promoting sustainable practices.

Increase in conversion rates
On average, about 70% of the shopping carts in e-commerce remain abandoned. It means that 7 of 10 shoppers leave transactions incomplete — think of what a waste this is for the fashion industry. An AI-driven stylist on the website can significantly reduce the need for multiple delivery attempts and returns by enhancing the accuracy of sizing and style recommendations. Dress2Save can provide personalized suggestions by leveraging user data and preferences. This leads to more satisfied customers who are less likely to encounter fit or style issues, ultimately minimizing the frequency of failed deliveries and returns.

This is just one of the possible examples of how the Dress2Save solution can make a difference for large fashion companies on the market.

Sustainability and sustainable action are our focus and are reflected in our mission, actions, and projects. Dress2Save is here to offer variable measures of implementing your ecological, social, and economic ideas into modern environmental marketing — in other words, while keeping everyone happy. Book a demo today and let your customers enjoy guiltless shopping!