- Today, 79% of people are willing to change their purchase preferences based on environmental impact (Capgemini, 2020)
- There’s been a rise in the number of people willing to buy secondhand (70%) and those who have been cleaning out their wardrobe (50%) (Global Data and ThredUp, 2020)
- The online rental economy, which is predicted to be worth $2.08 billion by 2025 (Business Wire, 2020)
- With a drive to live more consciously, consumers are looking for new ways to enhance the lifecycle of the products they own
- The desire for sustainable living is driving brands across multiple industries to evolve their offerings to help customers live, learn and act with positive intent.
In this regular column, creative agency Household explores how modern wellness businesses can leverage consumer behaviour to create brand stories and experiential points of discovery for customers.
With London Fashion Week in the headlines last month, this month Household explores how the fashion industry is evolving to meet new customer needs around sustainability, and what insights wellness brands can take from their lead.
Fashion and sustainability have often clashed. Fast-fashion, overconsumption and overproduction have driven the industry to become one of the biggest polluters in the world. Research has consistently shown if nothing is done to reduce its carbon footprint, the industry itself could contribute to a 2°C rise in global temperature by 2050.
However, consumers with a greater awareness of the climate crisis are catalysing a reset for the entire industry. This has only intensified during the COVID-19 pandemic, with individuals now reassessing their role in sustainable change.
With a recent study showing that 79% of people are willing to change their purchase preferences based on environmental impact (Capgemini, 2020), it appears that a growing body of consumers are deciding to take personal action to better the world that they live in. But, realising they cannot stop climate change alone – they expect support from the brands they engage with to help them make a positive impact.
This desire for sustainable living is driving brands across multiple industries to evolve their offerings to help customers live, learn and act with positive intent. At Household, we’ve identified this as the rise of ‘Conscious Living’, a trend which we see shaping experiences in 2021 and beyond.
This month, we explore three ways Conscious Living is already impacting the fashion industry and what that means for wellness brands.
- Secondhand turns into social selling
- Rental becomes accessible for the whole family
- Upcycling weaves into the store
Secondhand turns into social selling
Throughout lockdown, we have seen a rise in the number of people willing to buy secondhand (70%) and those who have been cleaning out their wardrobe (50%) (Global Data and ThredUp, 2020). This isn’t just coincidental, it’s complementary to, and at the heart of, a recent boom in the social resale market.
The benefits of recycling work for everyone. For shoppers, it goes beyond saving the planet, as it allows them to purchase aspirational products at a discounted rate. For sellers, their eco-conscious actions get positively reinforced with a nice financial incentive (and a cleaner wardrobe to boot).
What’s made social selling really take off is the variety of peer-to-peer resale platforms that specialise in different products as well as targeting particular sub-cultures. This has enabled a wide range of people, with different fashion tastes to start shopping or selling. For example, Depop is the go-to for preloved streetwear, The RealReal for luxury brands and eBay for general fashion and beyond.
With growing demand and a rise in engagement, it’s no surprise to see that the resale market grew 25 times faster than the wider retail market last year and it’s set to rise to $64 billion in the next five years (Charged Retail, 2020).
With customers moving from new to secondhand, there is a growing opportunity for Highstreet and luxury fashion brands to partner or create their own marketplace, allowing customers or the brands themselves to resell their old garments in controlled ways. This enables brands to meet customers desire for sustainability, whilst ensuring authenticity of garments sold and building hype towards pre-loved products.
Take athleisure brand TALA, it recently partnered with Depop to offer its customers access to samples from its pre-production, shoots and campaigns, at a discounted price via the popular fashion app. The ongoing collaboration, which includes the sale of many one-off and exclusive items, has successfully added another layer of hype to the already in-demand brand.
Access will become a key part of enabling consumers to continue reselling with positive intent. As demand continues to grow, the next logical step for brands is to bring these services into physical environments through collaborative pop-ups, selling both new and pre-loved products in one place.
For example, in the past Depop has also collaborated with Selfridges, creating a resale marketplace for their community to tangibly connect with the best second-hand garments and sellers. Initiatives like this enable consumers to live and shop sustainably, wherever they are.
Rental becomes accessible for the whole family
Over the last few years, we’ve seen consumers re-think ownership in a bid to be more sustainable. This has led to a boom in the online rental economy, which is predicted to be worth $2.08 billion by 2025 (Business Wire, 2020). In the US and UK, HURR, Rent the Runway, Nuuly and By Rotation have led the way, particularly by targeting the womenswear category.
But with consumers across all categories looking to make a difference, emerging players are entering the market, focusing on menswear and childrenswear, to allow the whole family to try the ‘latest’ styles without the ecological impact of buying new products. For example, Arket has partnered with online rental service Circos. The subscription service gives parents the flexibility to rent kids clothing for as long as they fit the child. For €19.50 per month, it can be viewed as a cost-effective service, when compared to how quickly children outgrow items.
In the US, resale platform Seasons specialises in designer menswear. The brand offers different subscription tiers at different prices, allowing members to join a plan that’s right for them. For an ‘all access’ membership, members can gain access to exclusive weekly drops, unlimited swaps and can pause the subscription at any time.
And, with more wellness brands also entering the rental market — including Lululemon and P.E Nation on Rent the Runway and Varley on Nuuly — this will boost awareness of this method of ownership amongst the wellness consumer, increasing the accessibility of the service and encouraging more people to join in.
We’ll start to see more wellness brands creating new innovative subscription models, enabling families to opt-in-and-out to get what they need when they need it.
Upcycling weaves into store
With a drive to live more consciously, consumers are looking for new ways to enhance the lifecycle of the products they own. One way to do this is to repair, reuse and upcycle old products into ‘new’ garments. 80% of people say that recycled materials are important when purchasing eco-friendly products (GWI, 2020).
Fashion brands are now starting to work upcycled materials into their latest collections to create versatile garments that meet consumers’ desire for sustainable fashion. Priya Ahluwalia was recently awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design. In her latest LFW collection, puffer jackets were designed to be reversible, shorts were made from recycled water bottles and old Levi jeans were modified into new designs.
On the Highstreet, Levi’s Soho store in London focuses on circularity. Customers can buy a new capsule collection made exclusively of faulty or returned items, have items repaired or customised on the shop floor and redeem a 10% donation for donating unwanted Levi clothing.
Upcycling is working its way throughout the entire supply chain. New tech is allowing stores to play an active role in the facilitation and incentivisation of upcycling, creating a one-stop fashion production space.
We’ve discussed previously the technological innovation H&M is pioneering in its Stockholm flagship. The new garment-to-garment recycling machine is located on the shop floor and upcycles old clothing into new, creating a visible way for customers to see how their old products can be reborn into new and inspiring clothing.
Upcycling and recycling are now becoming new pillars of the fashion industry and this is already starting to trickle through to the wellness industry, with clean beauty and personal care brands also leading the charge.
Beyond integrating it into the creation of new products, some brands are leveraging circularity to become an entire part of their experience, transforming their physical environments to encourage customers to live a sustainable lifestyle.
What does this mean for wellness brands?
Rental, resale and upcycling goes beyond the fashion industry. This new need to live with positive intent is creating an opportunity for brands across industries to get evolve their experiences, experimenting with new ways for their customers to live, shop and learn how to be more sustainable. It also provides new ways for brands to achieve their own sustainability goals and improve their processes, creating a new world of conscious living for everyone.
Here are three things for wellness brands to consider:
- Can you create new subscription services that allow your customers to flexibly rent products for as long as they need them?
- Could you launch or partner with resale companies to control the secondhand market and make sure it aligns with your brand?
- How could you make it easier for customers to repair and upcycle your products conveniently in-stores?