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Sustainability now becoming a must for UK fashion retailers: study

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Sustainability is fast becoming a must for UK fashion retailers, a new study suggests.

Analysis by Drapers questioned 372 fashion business leaders and professionals and found that 92.2% felt there was now a commercial imperative to become more sustainable. Some 91.6% of respondents to the Drapers Sustainability Survey said their customers were showing a growing interest in sustainability, while 59.9% thought they were willing to pay more for that.

Costs stand in the way, cited by 60.3% as the primary barrier to becoming sustainable. However 36.2% said there was a lack of consumer demand, or that customers were not willing to pay, while 34% said there was not enough knowledge or skills in the business. That said, 80.5% said their business’ leadership team was supportive.

Most respondents said they wanted government support to become greener, agreeing with the recommendations of the Parliamentary environmental audit committee that retailers should have mandatory targets (94.9%) and zero emissions targets (96.4%). 

They also wanted to see investment in recycling infrastructure (84.1%), the outlawing of unsustainable practice (71%) and taxes to encourage sustainable consumption (58%).

Drapers editor Keely Stocker said the study sent a signal that UK fashion wanted to clean up its act. 

“Retailers and brands are demanding government support for innovative new business models and practices and with communicating the necessity of sustainability to the consumer,” she said. “Doing nothing is no longer an option.” 

The study came soon after a study from personalisation and AI specialist Nosto suggested that consumers wanted more sustainable fashion, but were not prepared to pay extra to get that. Rather, they would be more likely to keep clothing for longer. 

Image: Fotolia

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