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2020 Macro Trend: Conscious Consumption

The fashion industry produces 10% of global carbon emissions and accounts for 20 to 35% of microplastic flows into the ocean, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). Textile dyeing is the second-largest polluter of water globally and it takes around 2,000 gallons of water to make a single pair of jeans. It’s no wonder that the conversation around apparel consumption has shifted in recent years.

Demand for change is being led by young activists like Greta Thunberg and the 7.6 million people who were inspired to participate in the Global Climate Strike last September. Consumers are increasingly aware of the environmental impact of fashion and are ready to hold companies accountable for their actions, or lack of. With the whole world watching, it is time for the industry to undergo a systemic change for the future of our planet.

The fashion industry particularly has come under scrutiny for the habits of overconsumption that drive it, but companies like Depop and Rent the Runway are trying to address this problem with modern resale and rental business models. The secondhand market is projected to reach $51 billion in 5 years and you just need to look at the growing roster of apparel rental companies to know that rental is having a moment. But while these newer business models aim to tackle the issue of overconsumption, the problem won’t truly be solved until the industry reaches full supply chain circularity.

With the help of transparency tech, like sensors, blockchain, and artificial intelligence, companies and consumers alike can better track products throughout their lifecycle. But is transparency enough? This effort to build a more ethical supply chain to achieve circularity must be accompanied by concrete targets that lead to meaningful action. Just as they are learning what is sustainable, consumers are also learning how to spot ingenuine marketing tactics and greenwashing. Armed with more information than ever, consumers are making value-based purchasing decisions that affect change and drive their values forward, so act accordingly.

1. The Shared Economy

Plagued by environmental concerns and the reality of climate change, the fashion industry is looking for new conscious ways to reach consumers.

2. Transparency Tech

Brands must consider fresh ways to tackle transparency at various touchpoints along the supply chain and set concrete targets that inspire meaningful action.

3. Woke Capitalism

Armed with more information than ever, consumers are making values-based purchasing decisions that affect change and social discourse.

4. Anti-Authenticity

Information overload and untrustworthy marketing tactics have given consumers every reason to question a company’s sustainability claims.

By The Numbers

Sustainable Fashion Data

If you’re interested in the full Conscious Consumption report or want to learn more about trends that are growing — and dying, please contact