Craving Conscious Consumption: How 2020 Has Changed the Fashion Industry for Good

The pandemic has affected many industries including fashion. In 2020 we watched the world come to a halt and so did the fast pace lives of consumers leading to a decline in fast fashion. As we were seeking to find comfort and experiences from home, many of us came to the realization of what we found important in the brands we were purchasing from. 

Consumers are focusing on conscious consumption meaning that they are looking to gain a connection through the products they are purchasing from and a desire to impact the greater good, meaning less waste and the demand for slow fashion movement. 

As the consumer’s mindset evolves, brands are working to communicate their plans for sustainability and ethical decision making. Brands are shifting their designs and production to let us know that they are a part of the sustainable fashion movement and worthy of our hard-earned dollar. 

But is there that big of a difference between shopping fast fashion versus small? 

The answer is yes. Fast fashion has proven to be problematic in multiple ways. Between the blatant disregard of fair labor laws and unfortunate environmental impacts, the industry is far from perfect. 

To start, a staggering one in six people work in fashion worldwide, and the industry contains some of the most and least wealthy people on the planet. While billionaires are capitalizing off cheap, outsourced labor, in countries like Bangladesh only 3% of workers said they were eating adequate amounts of food. 

Further, the environmental impacts of fast fashion are reprehensible. The fashion industry was responsible for 8-10% of global carbon emissions in 2019, amounting to more than all international flights and maritime shipping combined. 

The imperfect state of the fast fashion industry explains why the overwhelming shift to slow fashion prompted by the pandemic is an important occurrence relating to current culture and society’s moral standards. As a community, we are turning away from convenience and considering what our clothing is really costing us. 

What does that mean for communication professionals?

As this shift in demand for the fashion industry occurs, fashion brands must adapt to the needs of the consumers and work to make impactful products. A great example of this would be using marketing methods like cause related marketing which is used by businesses who are not only looking to make a successful business but impact on the community. The shift in this industry could be for the better, it is up to us to hold brands accountable and inspire a change. 

Photograph: Muhammad Fadli/Bloomberg via Getty Images

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