10.9 C
New York
Friday, March 24, 2023

An emerging trend in the garment industry

The sustainable fashion movement is sweeping the fashion and apparel industry as people around the world become increasingly aware of the environmental impacts of their consumption habits. The sustainable fashion trend is also starting to take root in China, driven by young, urban and increasingly environmentally conscious consumers.

With the rise of fast fashion, the mass production of cheap and easily disposable clothing, the fashion and apparel industry has come under increasing scrutiny from environmental activists. By some measures, the fashion and apparel industry is responsible for 4 to 10 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

In contrast to fast fashion, sustainable fashion emphasizes low-emission clothing products that are made to last. As China seeks to radically reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, sustainable fashion has the potential to transform the country’s fashion and apparel industry, but requires long-term investment to drive cultural change among consumers.

What is sustainable fashion?

Sustainable fashion, also known as green fashion, refers to clothing and fashion brands whose business models emphasize the importance of environmental and social sustainability. Sustainable fashion brands can, for example, feature clothes that are less polluting to produce, use locally sourced materials, or use recycled materials.

Many synthetic fibers commonly used in mass-produced garments are technically highly polluting forms of plastic, such as polyester, nylon, and acrylic. Such fibers are not only polluting to produce, but also contribute to microplastic pollution in the ocean during their life cycles.

Furthermore, sustainable fashion brands can also be leaders in environmental, social and governance (ESG) indicators. For example, such brands may adhere to high labor and sustainability standards throughout their supply chains.

In practice, sustainable fashion brands engage in a wide range of practices to reduce their carbon footprint. US brand Everlane, for example, produces jeans using just 0.4 liters of recycled water, compared to 1,500 liters of water used for most jeans. Chinese brand Klee Klee, for its part, offers free repair and recycling services as part of its efforts to reduce waste and pollution.

Some fashion and apparel brands may not fit into the sustainable fashion category, but still adopt practices to improve their sustainability, especially as ESG indicators become increasingly important among consumers, investors, and investors. the regulators. For example, many apparel and fashion brands acquire voluntary environmental certifications, adhere to Global Reporting Initiative standards, and commit to other ESG-related standards.

A niche but emerging trend in China

China is a huge market for fashion and apparel. According to government figures, enterprises above a designated scale (reporting annual revenue of more than RMB 20 million from core business) produced 23.54 billion garments in 2021, an increase of 8.4% from the previous year, and reached 997.46 billion RMB (138.87 billion US dollars) in sales, an increase of 14.2 percent. Market research firm Askci Research projected that China’s overall apparel market would grow to RMB 1.45 trillion (US$201.87 billion) by 2022.

There is a pressing need for greater sustainability in China’s fashion and apparel industry. Currently, the vast majority of clothing in China is not recycled after use, either through the second-hand market or the reuse of materials. About 26 million tons of clothing are thrown away in China every year, and less than one percent of it is reused or recycled.

The Chinese government is taking steps to reduce waste and pollution in the country, while promoting green business practices in all industries. In particular, the Chinese government has committed to reaching peak carbon emissions by 2030 and becoming carbon neutral by 2060. Given this commitment, greater sustainability in the fashion and apparel industry may soon become the norm. and not the exception.

While the sustainable fashion industry represents only a small part of the overall fashion and apparel industry, numerous indicators suggest that there is a potential growing market. According to a survey by market research firm Daxue Consulting, 77% of Chinese consumers surveyed are willing to pay a 5-20% premium for sustainable fashion products, indicating a growing awareness of the importance of sustainable fashion. sustainability.

In fact, China’s leading sustainable fashion brands such as Icicle, Klee Klee, Krop and Ziran largely cater to a high-end market. Other companies, like Bastine, focus on sustainable textile production. Some foreign brands specializing in sustainable fashion have entered the Chinese market, such as Everlane and Allbirds, with mixed success.

Although sustainable fashion is currently a high-end market in China, there is potential for it to go mainstream as Chinese consumers display some underlying behaviors that support sustainable fashion.

According to a PwC survey, 74% of Chinese consumers tend to choose brands with traceable sources and transparent origin, compared to 56% globally. Interest in transparency among Chinese consumers stems in part from experience with fake and sometimes dangerous products once common in the Chinese market.

Youth leading growth

In China, the idea that someone would pay more for clothing made from recycled materials is not widely held. During China’s economic boom in recent decades, consumers emphasized the value of new, rather than recycled or old. Many people also have the stigma that second-hand clothes are unhygienic.

While not all sustainable fashion products are made from recycled materials, such an attitude reflects a product perception barrier that sustainable fashion brands in China must overcome.

However, young Chinese consumers seem to be more interested in sustainable fashion than previous generations. A report by Research And Markets finds that sustainable fashion is still a new concept for Chinese consumers, but awareness is growing rapidly among young urban consumers.

Similarly, according to the Daxue Consulting survey, Chinese youth with higher incomes and advanced education are the most likely to adapt their purchasing behavior due to sustainability concerns. As many as 20 percent of upper-class respondents said they were willing to pay double for sustainable fashion products.

In addition to freshly made sustainable clothing, buying second-hand clothing has become increasingly common. Chinese e-commerce platforms used for thrift shopping include Catch Fish, Fat Tiger, Feiyu, Zhier, Zhuanzhuan, Xianyu, and Value Yao.

According to research by iiMedia Consulting, more than 60 percent of consumers on Chinese second-hand trading platforms were born in the 1990s. However, while some second-hand consumers reflect consumers’ interest in fashion sustainable, for others it is simply an interest in vintage clothing or a profitable purchase option.

Driving change through social channels

Popularizing the concept of sustainable fashion requires long-term investments to educate consumers about the benefits of such products and relate them to their lifestyles.

To do so, sustainable fashion brands can leverage online social channels to drive change from luxury to mainstream in China. Such channels are important both for the logistics of completing sales and for communicating the importance of sustainable lifestyles more broadly.

Market research firm Research And Markets projects online channels to account for 38.6 percent of China’s apparel market by 2025. However, creating a successful online presence in China requires a social media strategy and a marketing strategy. comprehensive online store instead of just an e-commerce store.

This can be seen most visibly in the key role that influencers play in China’s fashion and apparel industry, especially through live streams connected to e-commerce platforms. In 2020, China’s live streaming e-commerce market grew by 121.5% to RMB 961 billion (US$133.79 billion), demonstrating the explosive growth of the channel. This figure is expected to reach RMB 1.2 trillion (USD 180 billion) in 2022, according to a 2021 iResearch report.

Xiaohongshu e-commerce and social media platform is one of the most popular apps for fashion influencers and product sales, especially for young women. According to Vogue Business, the number of stories related to “sustainability” on the fashion and cosmetics app Xiaohongshu is approaching 300,000.

Engaging influencers who promote socially and environmentally conscious lifestyles can be an effective way for sustainable fashion brands to promote awareness of the need and trend for sustainable fashion. However, while sustainable fashion brands have avenues to succeed in the Chinese market, popularizing the concept requires a long-term strategy as consumers gradually adjust their lifestyle priorities.

About us

China Briefing is written and produced by Dezan Shira & Associates. The practice helps foreign investors enter China and has done so since 1992 through offices in Beijing, Tianjin, Dalian, Qingdao, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Ningbo, Suzhou, Guangzhou, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Shenzhen and Hong Kong. Contact the company for China support at china@dezshira.com.

Dezan Shira & Associates has offices in Vietnam, Indonesia, Singapore, the United States, Germany, Italy, India, and Russia, in addition to our business research facilities along the Belt & Road initiative. We also have partner firms helping foreign investors in the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand and Bangladesh.

Related Articles


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Latest Articles