Does fashion need to adopt eco-labels to aid consumer purchasing decisions?
According to a new survey, half of U.S. consumers have some level of interest in eco-labels to guide their fashion purchases, including 13.1 percent who are “very interested.”
The survey of 500 U.S. consumers, conducted by Fordham University – Gabelli School of Business’ Responsible Business Coalition (RBC) in partnership with Rockbridge Associates, further found:
- Interest in eco-labels is primarily driven by younger, college-educated and employed fashion consumers who live in urban settings.
- Nearly half of consumers (46 percent) indicated that recyclability is an issue of importance to them that they would like displayed on eco-labels, followed by human and labor rights (39 percent); chemical usage, animal welfare and material usage (33 percent); and information on carbon footprint (31 percent).
- Most consumers (65 percent) want eco-labels attached directly to the garments that they are considering purchasing via a brand label, the price tag, or both. Online, 44 percent preferred an eco-label in the form of a sustainability icon on the website, a website filter, or both.
One major challenge is the fashion industry’s poor track record on sustainability. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation found that while 95 percent of global textiles can be recycled, 73 percent end up in a landfill or incinerator.
Sustainability credentials are also still being fine-tuned.
Last week, the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, an alliance of major fashion brands, announced it was pausing its use of the Higg Materials Sustainability Index, its tool measuring garments’ sustainability, after a Norwegian advertising watchdog found many of the environmental claims were misleading or outright deceptive.
Lerzan Aksoy, a marketing professor at Fordham, believes eco-labels would incentivize fashion brands to make more substantial sustainability commitments. He also believes that while the fashion industry needs a consensus on how to measure and report on sustainability metrics, eco-labels would offer significant value as standards are developed.
Speaking to WWD, Prof. Aksoy said, “We have seen something similar in the history of nutrition claims — these things take time to be codified. Ultimately, an agreed-upon rulemaking body is going to have to set the appropriate criteria for making sustainability claims. But we cannot use this as an excuse to wait.”
- New Study from Fordham University’s Responsible Business Coalition Highlights – Fordham University’s Responsible Business Coalition/Globe Newswire
- Consumer Interest in Fashion Ecolabeling – Fordham University’s Responsible Business Coalition
- Redesigning the future of fashion – Ellen MacArthur Foundation
- Statement from the SAC Regarding the Norwegian Consumer Authority and Environmental Claims – Sustainable Apparel Coalition
- The controversial way fashion brands gauge sustainability is being suspended – Quartz
- Can Farfetch’s Eco-Label Answer Call for 65 Percent of Consumers Amid Industry Setbacks? – WWD
- Eco-Labeling in Fashion: What Consumers Want – Adweek
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What do you think of the consumer appeal of eco-labels and the challenges in developing and implementing them? Would such labels at this point further complicate or help resolve greenwashing claims?