News • 24.01.2020

Britain’s thrifty young fashionistas

More than half of 25-34-year-olds buy second-hand clothes

Young teenagers male and female in hip clothes standing together having fun...
Source: PantherMedia/konradbak

Savvy young Brits are buying, selling, mending, swapping and renting their clothes, according to the latest research from Mintel.

‘Thrifting’ is the way forward among young British fashion shoppers, as Mintel research shows that in the last year alone over half (52 percent) of those aged 25-34 bought second-hand clothes, compared to an average of 43 percent. Young Brits are turning their old clothes into hard cash, with 50 percent of 25-34-year-olds selling unwanted clothes in the last year, compared to 35 percent of consumers as a whole. And in the spirit of ‘make do and mend’, half (50 percent) of 25-34-year-olds have repaired damaged or worn-out clothes.

‘Swishing’, the act of swapping clothes with friends or acquaintances, is also becoming on-trend, particularly among young people. Three quarters (75 percent) of 16-24-year-olds say they either have swapped fashion items with others or would be interested in doing so in the future. This compares to an average of just 51 percent of Brits.

Meanwhile, looking at the habits of fashion shoppers, Generation Z (16-24-year-olds) is the demographic group most likely to use rental services, with 54 percent saying they have rented or would be interested in renting fashion items, compared to an average of 33 percent of Brits. Overall, 57 percent of Brits agree that buying too many fashion items is bad for the environment.

Chana Baram, Mintel Retail Analyst, said: “The idea of ‘reusing, reducing and recycling’ has the potential to be a big disruptor in the fashion industry. […] It’s no longer enough for clothing to be priced well, or to reference the latest trends; fashion brands and retailers also have to think about working towards a goal of providing more sustainable options. Many young people today are […] becoming far more aware of the negative effects fast fashion can have on the environment. As a result, we have seen a real increase in the number of businesses and retailers offering repair services, second-hand items or rental options.”

Interest in sustainable fashion – but there’s confusion

Following in the green footsteps of celebrity sustainable fashion advocates, such as Emma Watson and Joaquin Phoenix, younger consumers are starting to shop more responsibly when it comes to fashion. In fact, 68 percent of 16-24-year-olds say they are trying to make more ethical fashion purchases now than they did in the last 12 months; this compares to an average of 57 percent of British shoppers.

Overall, 30 percent of consumers agree they would choose a retailer based on whether or not they sold sustainable fashion ranges. However, 79 percent find it difficult to know which fashion retailers are ethical. Price is not perceived as an indicator of sustainability, with just 22 percent agreeing that the more you pay for fashion, the more likely it is to be ethical. However, six in 10 (59 percent) Brits would be willing to pay more for sustainable fashion.

Finally, while Brits are interested in sustainable fashion, transparency is essential, as over two thirds (67 percent) of people agree that fashion retailers should let customers know when items are not made sustainably. 

Chana Baram: “Consumers want to see fashion retailers doing more to help them shop more ethically and sustainably. However, with so many conflicting messages regarding what is, and what is not, sustainable, many shoppers are finding it difficult to understand which retailers and brands are truly leading the way. It has become more necessary than ever for the fashion industry to work together and push for industry-wide best-practice guidelines when it comes to producing fashion in a way that will have the lowest environmental impact.”

Source: Mintel Group

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