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How Fashion Players Can Add “Value” with Volume Sales Under Threat

Marguerite LeRolland Profile Picture
Marguerite LeRolland Bio

As Global Fashion Agenda’s Global Fashion Summit 2024 is about to take place in Copenhagen during 21-23 May, Euromonitor International looks at the EU Right to Repair and how, more generally, the regulation shaping up in Europe is increasingly trying to limit high-volume fast fashion models and pushing for added-value services such as repairs, rental and resale to drive circularity in fashion.

In the current economic context, consumers want their money to go further

Global inflation is forecast to moderate in 2024 due to slower economic growth, stabilised energy and commodity prices and supply chain improvements. However, geopolitical instability has cast a shadow on this scenario and, in any case, under the Euromonitor International baseline scenario published in Q1 2024, global inflation is still forecast to stand at 4.4% in 2024, ie above central banks’ targets. Hence, tighter monetary policies are expected to continue. So, although inflation rates are slowing, prices remain generally elevated. This has led to a normalisation of budgeting among consumers who recognise the need to manage spending for the long haul.Chart showing Global Consumer Price Inflation Baseline Forecast 2022-2026With consumers’ spending power facing ongoing pressure, the record revenues reported by companies such as Primark, Shein and Temu underscore the unwavering demand for inexpensive garments. But cash-strapped consumers do not only seek bargains to save money – some are also adopting more creative approaches to make their money go further, in free or low-cost activities and leveraging social media to find out about best deals or TikTok hacks and the best “dupes”, ie convincing copies of the original item but at a fraction of the price.

Affordability and distrust are still forming substantial barriers to the growth of sustainable fashion

Challenges such as affordability and distrust are definitely forming barriers to sustainable fashion, and, in addition to this, rising living costs and spending cuts are resulting in consumers becoming frustrated with the typically higher cost of sustainable options, which they struggle to afford or cannot justify paying more for.

But a growing number of consumers also see value in more durable items and those that can be repaired. As their budgets tighten, the cheaper option for these consumers also becomes about seeking to rent or repair items rather than buying new ones, a trend that the regulators in the EU are trying to accelerate with the proposed Right to Repair Directive concerning not only appliances but also textiles.Chart showing Consumer Strategies to Save Money in 2024In fact, as consumers are questioning what companies are really doing to make a difference and might still be reluctant to pay more for sustainable items, the regulators are trying to force a change in the industry and stepping up the pressure on volume-driven business models.

Fast fashion business models increasingly face scrutiny by regulators

Not only do so-called “ultra-fast” fashion brands increasingly face scrutiny in the press about waste, pollution, copyright infringements and questionable labour practices, but the sustainable fashion regulation is also shaping up in various parts of the world, led by the EU Strategy for Sustainable Textiles. The shift is also happening in other major apparel markets including the UK, the US (California) and Japan. French lawmakers approved the introduction of a special tax on fast fashion items in March 2024. Other EU member states may follow suit in the near future.

The EU regulators also increasingly take a strong stance against greenwashing and social washing and are pushing for greater transparency with the Digital Product Passports requirement in the textile industry to be implemented from 2026, while in the US, high-profile class actions have recently also sent a strong message to corporations that they now must be ready to back their environmental and social claims with auditable data.Chart showing Fashion Companies’ 5-Year Plans: Reasons to Invest in Sustainability, 2024In this context of changing regulation and depletion of natural resources, it is fair to say volume sales become threatened and the social and environmental dimensions of sustainability increasingly converge with the economic one.

More than ever, it is becoming essential for fashion companies to act today to proactively map out their supply chain and start transforming their business model, to get a head start and be able to comply with all relevant environmental or employment laws in due time.

About Global Fashion Summit: Global Fashion Summit is the leading international forum for sustainability in fashion and is presented by Global Fashion Agenda (GFA), a non-profit organisation that is accelerating the transition to a net positive fashion industry. GFA accelerates impact by mobilising, inspiring, influencing and educating all stakeholders. Convening major decision-makers from across the world, the forum was first launched in 2009 as a COP15 side event and has become the nexus for agenda-setting discussions and presentations on the most critical environmental, social, and ethical issues facing our industry and planet, all intended to spark urgent action and accelerate impact in the industry. Learn more and secure your ticket for the summit, by visiting here.

About the author: Marguerite Le Rolland is the Head of Apparel and Footwear at Euromonitor International, a leading independent provider of strategic market research based in London, UK. In her role, Marguerite oversees the industry research and is responsible for strategic analysis on corporate strategies, market and consumer trends, competitive intelligence, retail performance and opportunity analysis in the fashion industry. Her comments and analysis are regularly quoted in the press, including Business of Fashion, Le Monde, AFP, Vogue Business, The Guardian, The Telegraph and WWD. To learn more, please check: https://www.euromonitor.com/.

To learn more about winning strategies in this evolving apparel and footwear market, please read our article, Top Trends in Global Apparel and Footwear in 2024 and Beyond and our report, Competitor Strategies in Apparel and Footwear.

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