Sustainable fashion hits its stride

PV x Institut Français de la Mode STUDY

Conducted for the first time in 2019 and renewed in 2023, the IFM-Première Vision study provides us with information on the dynamics at work in terms of eco-responsibility and new evolutions, helping us guide the entire industry in understanding this new landscape. Discover the findings of the latest edition of this study, based on a panel of 5,000 respondents from five countries: France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy and the United States

So, how do we view eco-responsible fashion and, more importantly, how does it affect our purchases?

The fashion industry is on a journey towards ever-greater environmental responsibility. Having embarked on this path several years ago, its actions are now being noticed and its efforts recognized by consumers, whose buying habits increasingly take sustainability and quality into account. Here’s a look at the state of play.


  1. Fashion has been heard
  2. Ecology and beauty go hand-in-hand
  3. The « Made In » component keeps growing
  4. Consumers are better informed
  5. Three dynamics call for better quality
  6. A need for reliable information
  7. ‘a better way’, the sustainable programme for more transparent sourcing

Fashion has been heard

The transformation is underway. Until recently perceived as one of the most polluting industries, fashion seems to have begun its eco-responsibility revolution in the eyes of the general public. Its continued efforts towards a more sustainable production are being more closely watched and better understood.

“The image of fashion is definitely improving. The efforts made by brands, especially in terms of information and transparency, are being noticed”.

Gildas Minvielle, Director of the IFM Economic Observatory
Perception of sustainability of fashion industry

Ecology and beauty go hand-in-hand

Underlying factors can explain the rise of sustainable fashion, starting with a heightened awareness of environmental issues, but also a shift in consumers’ minds: eco-responsible fashion is now perceived as being compatible with trends and elegance. The change initiated by a few luxury brands several years ago is catching on.

In the five countries surveyed,
9 out of 10 people
see sustainable products as fashionable.

The “Made In” component keeps growing

Perceptions of environmental responsibility remain strongly correlated with the geographic proximity of production

sites. To be considered sustainable, a garment must be made in France for 82.3% of French people, in Italy for 79% of Italian respondents and in the United Kingdom for 78.4 % of British people. In Germany, the figure reaches 81%, while nearly 7 out of 10 Germans also believe that a garment made in Europe also offers guarantees of environmental responsibility.

This “regionalist” movement witnessed in Europe isn’t at all visible in the United States. While 53% of consumers used to believe that a product made by their Central American neighbors could be considered responsible, today only 28% do.

Consumers are better informed

Just three years ago, a lack of information was cited as the main obstacle to buying eco-responsible clothing. The level of information among the public has since risen sharply. In France, only 33% of people surveyed consider that they don’t know enough about the issue, as opposed to 50.4% in 2019.

Proof that the industry is turning a corner in terms of transparency and has reached a higher level of maturity on these issues, consumers are also more likely to know where to find these products in their local stores. Among the channels of information preferred by customers, two sources stand out. The first one is the garment label itself, followed by information given directly at the point of sale. the brand’s website, media or social networks, lag far behind.

L'étiquette : première source d'information

The garment label is cited as the #1 channel of information in all surveyed countries, with figures between 60% and 70% across all the markets.

Three dynamics call for better quality

Quality of garment

Buy less often and keep items longer. More attention is being paid to the materials from which they are made and their quality, which directly impacts a product’s durability. In France, 37.7% of respondents cite materials as the first metric for eco-responsibility.

The importance of repairability

The idea of repairing clothes or having them repaired is spreading rapidly. In 2023, no less than 82.4% of Italian respondents said they had repaired at least one item of clothing. Offered by certain brands and even new companies dedicated to this service, the trend towards reparability is anything but anecdotal. Clothing joins other sectors where this trend can be seen (furniture, household appliances, decoration, etc.).

Le succès de la seconde main

The global second-hand market keeps growing. 58.5% of American women and 52.6% of American men bought second-hand clothing in 2022. That’s the highest figure in all countries surveyed. Although still in the first place for all respondents (between 56% for Italians and 68.6% for French people, lower prices are less frequently cited as a reason for purchase than in 2019.

A need for reliable information

Consumers want to keep the momentum going: they ask for clear and reliable information about how their clothes are made. However, while the proportion of consumers who feel they have enough information has doubled in recent years, it still only represents a third of the sample, except in the United States.

6 out of 10 American respondents
feel they have enough information
about sustainable fashion

Regulatory changes—whether national, European or American—are anticipated by both shoppers and brands. Certification labels have a key role to play in guiding them. But their sheer number—there are now more than 400 eco-responsible labels—makes them difficult to understand. Of the 12 labels selected and presented to respondents, knowledge is unsurprisingly very heterogeneous.

EU Ecolabel, bien reconnu par les répondants français

The EU Ecolabel is the only one that stands out, with 74% awareness. The other 11 labels are recognized with difficulty.

‘a better way’, the sustainable programme for more transparent sourcing

To help the industry adapt to these new challenges, Première Vision is launching ‘a better way’, a solution that analyzes exhibitors’ initiatives and highlights their efforts to buyers and visitors. A specific pictogram guarantees verified commitments in five areas: social initiatives, production site impact, traceability, product composition, sustainability and end-of-life. 290 manufacturers are already eligible for ‘a better way,’ designed to simplify and guide a market that needs it.

Content produced in partnership with the Institut français de la mode.

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