A new survey reveals consumers are willing to pay up to five percent more for ethically produced clothing, but one in five don’t trust the information provided by brands.
The poll also found that almost 74 percent of UK respondents believe that fashion brands should be responsible for ensuring garments are manufactured in an environmentally friendly way but only one in ten feel that they are provided information about impacts of clothing manufacturing on the environment and people.
The findings are a result of a wide-ranging opinion poll of shopping habits and public perceptions about garment supply chains. Conducted by Ipsos MORI and commissioned by the Changing Markets Foundation and Clean Clothes Campaign 7,701 adults aged 16-75 in seven different nations were interviewed. Over 1,000 interviews were conducted in each country; UK, US, France, Germany, Spain, Italy and Poland.
“This is the most comprehensive consumer survey to date looking at perceptions of environmental and social standards in the clothing industry. It shows that people expect brands to take responsibility for what happens in their supply chains, both in terms of their workers and the environment,” said Urska Trunk, Changing Markets Foundation’s campaign adviser.
“All the indications are consumer mindsets are changing: they want more accountability, and more information and they are increasingly putting their money where their mouth is.”
According to UK workers rights focussed campaign group, Labour Behind the Label, the global garment industry turns over almost $3 trillion a year, but many garment workers don’t earn enough to live above poverty levels, with some earning just $21 a month.
Consumers are concerned about sweatshops and exploitation of workers within the fashion industry too, with seven in ten (69 percent) feeling that the fashion industry pays workers in its supply chain poor wages, however an almost equivalent number of survey participants say it is hard to know if the brands they buy from meet ethical standards.
The survey also finds that eight out of ten (79 percent) respondents feel that clothing brands should be transparent and provide information on whether the workers in their supply chains are paid a living wage. More than half said they would be deterred from purchasing from a brand that did not do so.
“These findings show that people in the UK want more information on working conditions and would be put off buying from brands who are not paying a fair living wage,” said Dominique Muller of Labour Behind the Label, Clean Clothes Campaign UK a non-profit organisation that works with 250 partner organisations worldwide such as NGOs and trade unions to improve labour standards for garment workers. “It’s time for the government to act if the industry is not going to.”
The findings of this survey are complemented by the Ethical Consumer Markets Report 2018 which shows a 20 percent sales increase for ethically-produced clothing last year and an almost 23 percent increase in second-hand clothing purchases, indicating that shoppers are concerned about the environmental and social impacts of fashion and are choosing to vote with their wallets.
In addition, Lyst, the largest global fashion search platform, tracked more than 100 million searches conducted on its site and found a 47 percent increase in shoppers looking for items that have ethical and style credentials with terms such as “vegan leather” and “organic cotton”.
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