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Insight of the Day: Sustainable fashion: Young consumers at odds with older generations


The study by the French Fashion Institute (IFM) and Première Vision revealed key differences in how young consumers (18-34) perceive and engage with sustainable fashion compared to the general population.


  • Environmental focus vs. materials focus: 18-24-year-olds prioritize environmental protection in their definition of sustainable fashion, while 25-34-year-olds prioritize materials.

  • Higher purchasing rates: Young consumers are more likely to purchase sustainable fashion items than the general population.

  • Second-hand preference: Younger consumers are significantly more likely to buy second-hand fashion, driven primarily by price.

  • Prioritizing quality and style: Young consumers value quality and style over brand appeal and ethical considerations, although environmental impact is still a significant factor.

  • Expectations from brands: Younger consumers expect brands to prioritize product quality, sustainability, accessibility, diversity and inclusion, and authenticity.

The study highlights several key differences between young generations (18-34) and older generations regarding sustainable fashion:

  1. Definition of Sustainable Fashion:

  • Younger Generations: Prioritize environmental protection (18-24) or materials (25-34).

  • Older Generations:  The study doesn't explicitly state their focus, but it's implied they don't prioritize the environment or materials as much as younger generations.

  1. Purchasing Behavior:

  • Younger Generations: More likely to have purchased sustainable fashion in the last 12 months, both for themselves and others.

  • Older Generations: Less likely to have purchased sustainable fashion compared to younger generations.

  1. Attitude Towards Second-Hand Fashion:

  • Younger Generations: Significantly more likely to buy second-hand fashion, driven primarily by price but also influenced by sustainability concerns.

  • Older Generations: Less likely to buy second-hand fashion compared to younger generations.

  1. Purchasing Criteria:

  • Younger Generations: Prioritize quality, style, and ethical/environmental considerations over brand appeal.

  • Older Generations: May be more influenced by brand appeal and less concerned with ethical/environmental factors compared to younger generations.

  1. Expectations from Brands:

  • Younger Generations: Expect brands to prioritize sustainability, accessibility, diversity, inclusion, and authenticity.

  • Older Generations: The study doesn't explicitly state their expectations, but it's implied they may not prioritize the same values as younger generations.

Overall, younger generations are more engaged with sustainable fashion, prioritize different aspects, and have higher expectations from brands compared to older generations. This highlights the need for brands to adapt their strategies to cater to the evolving values and preferences of younger consumers.

Key Takeaway:

Young consumers are a driving force in the sustainable fashion movement, but their priorities and preferences differ from those of older generations. Brands must understand these nuances to effectively engage with this crucial demographic.


The study indicates a growing trend of conscious consumerism among young people, with a focus on environmental protection and ethical considerations in their fashion choices.

Consumer Motivation:

Young consumers are motivated by a desire to align their fashion choices with their values, including environmental protection, ethical manufacturing, and inclusivity.

Driving the Trend:

Increased awareness of environmental issues, concerns about social responsibility, and the rise of second-hand fashion are driving this trend.

People Referred to in the Article:

  • Gildas Minvielle, Head of the IFM's Economic Observatory

Description of Consumers and Product/Service:

The study focused on consumers aged 18-65 in France, Italy, Germany, the UK, and the USA. The product/service is sustainable fashion, including new and second-hand items.


  • Young consumers are a key target market for sustainable fashion brands.

  • Brands need to tailor their messaging and product offerings to appeal to the specific values and preferences of young consumers.

  • The second-hand market is a crucial component of the sustainable fashion landscape, especially for younger generations.

Implications for Brands:

  • Brands must prioritize transparency and communication about their sustainability efforts to build trust with young consumers.

  • Brands need to offer high-quality, stylish, and affordable sustainable fashion options.

  • Brands should consider incorporating second-hand initiatives into their business models.

Implications for Society:

  • The growing demand for sustainable fashion could drive positive change in the industry, promoting more ethical and environmentally responsible practices.

  • Increased awareness of sustainability issues among young consumers could lead to a broader shift towards conscious consumerism.

  • The second-hand market has the potential to reduce waste and promote a more circular economy in the fashion industry.


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