What does ecological fashion mean?
Four categories are grouped under the generic name of ecological fashion, eco fashion or sustainable fashion.
Ethical fashion is committed to the production of garments without the exploitation of child labor and by paying the workers employed a fair wage and decent condition.
This category also includes vegan clothes that do not use animals for their production, in particular without skins.
Ecological fashion is produced using processes that are not harmful to the environment. It includes organic fibers and sustainable materials such as hemp and non-textile fibers like bamboo.
It also includes recycling clothes, which means getting new clothes from the old ones, including vintage, but in this case, it is not necessarily made with organic fibers.
Biological or Organic Fashion
Biological or organic clothing, on the other hand, is obtained with the minimum use of chemical additives and with minimal environmental impact.
Finally, with the fair-trade, we intend to obtain better prices, decent jobs conditions, sustainability for the environment and workers in the so-called third world.
Fashion & Environment
For many years, fashion and the environment have conflicted, as fashion implies products with a short life cycle while sustainability proposes durability and reuse of products.
Sustainable fashion has really taken off in Europe thanks to designer Stella McCartney and Edun, created by Bono of U2 and his wife in 2005. But, despite the growing popularity of the green phenomenon, fashion is a matter of image.
A survey among consumers of the time had highlighted that for the same price, people would choose the "green." But despite being sensitive to the need for environmental protection, many of them were unwilling to pay more than 10% more for an eco-friendly garment.
At the time of purchase, the price and style influenced their choices the most. Mothers were more inclined to choose ecological clothes for their children also because they were more aesthetically attractive.
The Fear Of Going Back
While rejecting any use of animals in her creations, Stylist Stella McCartney was aware that her audience was more attracted by the luxury and beauty of her clothes than by the characteristic of being ecological clothes.
The term organic or organic is somehow perceived by customers as demeaning and lowers the value of clothing. The consumer does not want to go back to the "good things of the past." As you know, fashion demands novelty year by year, so the international companies that have gradually decided to produce sustainable and ecological lines of garments have focused on innovation, that is, presenting the garments as innovative rather than "green."
These include Veja, Patagonia, the eco collections by H&M, and Zara. So it seems that, at least in this case, the industry preceded the market request.
Eco-fashion has had a hard time emerging
A survey conducted in 2005 compared the interest of consumers in North America and Europe in the ecological and sustainable fashion.
It emerged that the European consumer perceived green fashion as dull, gray, and unappetizing. Green fashion was associated with materials such as raw wool and old-fashioned garments belonging to no particular brand.
It was associated with a woman in her forties, who was not attentive to fashion trends, in bad taste, and with a simple and healthy lifestyle, and who was often an activist.
Europeans also tended to associate organic with status. Since organic products are more expensive than others, buying organic seemed like another form of appearing. A way to show one's status, ultimately a luxury that only a few could afford.
The North American Consumer Was Greener
On the other hand, for North American consumers, organic clothing was trendy, young, and sexy.
They associated green clothing with a young woman in her twenties, simple but sexy, with All-Stars sneakers, jeans, and organic t-shirts. She is attentive to her health and unsophisticated, self-confident, with a unique style.
Students associated organic with brands such as H&M, American Apparel, Urban Outfitters and, ironically, thought this style originated in the UK, as they knew the designer Stella McCartney.
Ecological Fashion In Europe
Other surveys in subsequent years have found that in Europe, the intention to buy organic fashion is still moderate.
There is no significant correlation between age, gender, and the intention to purchase organic clothing. The main reasons are the need to use natural clothes due to allergies, the interest in protecting the environment and personal health, and for greater ethics. The "green" consumer is perceived as attentive, sincere, and self-confident. The three adjectives that least define it are materialistic, sophisticated, and sexy.
The main reason for this moderate interest is the average consumer's lack of knowledge of the exact meaning of the term ecological clothing and polluting production processes.
There is a general need to inform better consumers about the need for sustainable fashion. In particular, the origin of the fabrics currently produced, their manufacturing and dyeing process, the chemical treatments, and the tremendous environmental impact of the production process have been made up until now.
The younger population with a higher level of education is more sensitive to the environmental impact and the ethical problem. Young people are inclined to admire clothing brands that participate in social and ecological activities.
It seems absurd, but the movement towards a more sustainable fashion has been set in motion in the clothing industries rather than in the shops and from the needs of consumers.
The reasons that are pushing the offer to be more advanced than the final demand are many. Among these, there is certainly the risk of adverse impacts of possible campaigns by environmental NGOs on the value and reputation of brands.
Today the trend is that every fashion house must necessarily monitor its own environmental impact, demonstrating that it knows how to distinguish itself and blend creativity with sustainable innovation.
The big brands are always the masters. By investing and moving large shares of the market, they are able to determine the fashion sector in the long term and, in this case, sustainable fashion.
A company that intends to become part of this sector must identify an innovative competitive strategy. In addition, it must focus on a niche within the fashion market, in which high quality, creativity, innovation, and socio-cultural trends are combined.
Innovation is the only way in which it is possible to satisfy the tastes of the consumer, who is increasingly demanding, educated, and used to continuous change.
In choosing a dress, the consumer seeks a possibility of distinction from other consumers and at the same time a way of showing their belonging to a group or community of people united by a shared vision or values, rather than by socio-economic characteristics.