Green Fashion Forward - Europe Leads the Way

Green fashion is about more than just trendy styles made from recycled materials. It encompasses a whole new way of looking at the clothes we buy – from where they originate to how they get to the racks – and Europe is leading the way for designers and consumers. Just as the premier fashion designers made Europe home in decades past, it also seems to be the forging ground for this new environmental awareness in the fashion world.

In fact, a higher number of eco-friendly fashion stores are cropping up in Europe than in most other parts of the world. Not only are there more stores for consumers, but the quality and prices are competitive and accessible to many. For instance, in Germany you can find an eco-friendly clothing store in practically every large city.

Consumers Search for the Green – And Are Willing to Pay More Green

As much as the world buzzes with words like sustainability, eco-friendly, and green, the reality is that the fashion world just doesn’t have a firm grasp of what these really include. More importantly, they struggle with how to make the changes necessary to truly bear those kinds of labels. The study known as ‘Sustainability 2015’, published in Germany, compared a broad range of business sectors and looked at their strides toward providing sustainable products and services. Across almost all points of consideration, the fashion and textile industry ranks at the bottom of the list. When compared to the motor vehicle industry, energy industry, financial industry, and consumer goods industry, the fashion industry just doesn’t deliver enough options for consumers.

This downfall isn’t all about a lack of demand, either, which usually drives these kinds of numbers. According to the same study, consumers – as many as 44% – do not feel positively about shopping for eco-friendly clothing because there just aren’t enough options. Consumers seem to really want their fashion labels to stand up to the sustainability tests. In fact, more than 80% of them are willing to pay more for their clothing if they know that the manufacturing of the pieces included sustainable measures.

Looking for the Fashion Industry to Get Green

Fashion industry leaders and designers are starting to take notice, and are looking for ways to answer consumers’ call. Again, Europe is leading the green effort. In Germany the Coalition of Fairness is working to plan a platform that supports eco-friendly fashion, and is looking for companies to lead by example.

The Netherlands and France are also getting on board with this new direction in the fashion industry. They are just beginning to form similar organizations that will look to develop guidelines for the industry and identify resources for textile manufacturers.

Standing Apart from the Crowd

Think for a minute of other industries that sat poised on the brinks of change – and those that started the eventually drives for change and success. The fashion world is no different. It is poised and ready for fashion labels to deliver to consumers the sustainable products they want. As Europe sees more and more shops start to carry eco-friendly fashion, and consumers go to these sources, the rest of the world is starting to take notice. There is still enormous room for more labels, both well-known brands and smaller design houses, to strike forward and start providing consumers with sustainable choices. The biggest challenge might be for designers to convince retailers to make room on the racks for these new designs, but if consumers keep asking and brands such as Nudie Jeans, People Tree, and Knowledge Cotton Apparel keep delivering, green fashion will be more than just a passing trend.