October 21, 2021

Fast Fashion Consumerism - How under 30's shopping habits are contributing to the industry's biggest downfall

Fast fashion - which refers to the industry process of designing, manufacturing, retailing and buying clothing quickly and very cheaply - is something that seems to be more on consumers’ minds than ever right now.

The constant release of clothing that matches the latest fashion, pop culture obsession, and emerging trends (along with its extremely cheap price tag), makes it appear very attractive to many younger consumers. However, an ethical conscience is starting to pull at the heartstrings and ask: “is this sustainable?”, “is this good for the planet?” and “am I part of the problem?”.

At Absolutely Bear, we love sustainable men's clothing and fashion, but we want to educate our customers, and the British public, on how to make sustainable fashion choices and ethical shopping decisions.

To do this, we wanted to actually understand shopping habits of those aged 30 and under in Britain today. So we surveyed them on their fast fashion behaviour, and here is what we found...


How often are consumers buying fast fashion items?


With the fast fashion crisis being an ongoing problem, it is evident that consumers are fuelling brands with their custom and filling their pockets more than ever; and they show no sign of slowing down. We analysed how often consumers are shopping and it turns out that one in three (33%) Brits aged 30 or under are shopping either once a week or more; feeding into the fast fashion narrative.


The biggest fast fashion consumers by age

It has become very clear that Gen Z-ers are the biggest fast fashion culprits with half (49%) of 18-23-year-olds shopping more than once a week! Just over a quarter (28%) of 24-30-year-olds (millennials) are shopping more than once a week, by comparison, a big difference!


To slow down the fast fashion crisis we are faced with, consumers would need to reduce a lot of their shopping habits. Shopping less and more considerably is the way forward; but only 15% of under 30s are shopping just several times a year, which is a tiny fraction of the desired amount of people needed to make a change. 

Those in their later 20s are beginning to understand and shop a bit less, with one in five (20%) of 27-30yr olds opting for several times a year, compared to just 4% of 18-20yr olds being that frequent!


Consumer behaviour trends based on gender 


We also had a look at consumer behaviour based on gender, and surprisingly males appear to be shopping more often than females! 

Young men are buying more clothes on a regular basis compared to their female counterparts; 20% more in fact with 29% (compared to 9% of females) admitting to doing this more than once a week. One in 4 (21%) of young women are shopping several times a year, and 5% say they shop even less than once a year. 


Where in the UK are the biggest culprits of fast fashion?


So where are the UK’s biggest shoppers located? Apart from guessing that the location must be very accessible to shopping centres and parcel delivery services, it turns out that the worst offenders are from Wales, with more than one in three (38%) shopping more than once a week! On the opposite end of the spectrum, the North West have the best shopping behaviours and when it comes to shopping several times a year,  25% of them are doing so. In Northern Ireland, the most frequent shopping pattern is a couple of times a month, with half (50%) saying this.

But what about the fashion capital? Home to London Fashion Week and head offices of many competitive fashion brands, 43% of London residents are shopping once a week or more. This is the same amount as consumers up in Scotland.


Analysis: What do these findings tell us?


Nick Fletcher, our founder, comments on the under 30s shopping habits survey and highlights social media as a negative contributor:

This was a really interesting piece of research for us to do. In many ways, the results reflect the fast pace of modern-day life and the idea that something is here today and gone tomorrow; a problem I believe is made more acute by the rise of social media and other technologies. 

What's clear is that the culture of fast fashion is more prevalent in the younger generations and most significantly with the Gen Z-ers. In many ways, this shouldn't be a surprise, as this is the generation that has grown up alongside the explosion of social media and receives the majority of the information they consume through these mediums.”

When it comes to social media and fashion advertising, Nick calls on labels and brands to take accountability of fast fashion demands:Clearly brands have to take responsibility here as they are the ones pushing content in such a way that fuels the problem.  What is absolutely clear - and has been laid bare in recent years - is the damaging impact that fast fashion has had on the planet. From the use of pesticides which have had a devastating effect on biodiversity to chemicals polluting communities; the rise of fast fashion has not been the friend of nature or people.”

 “Our goal at Absolutely Bear is to produce sustainable clothing made in an ethical way and to provide a fashionable and stylish alternative to those who wish to shop in a more sustainable way. We want to make sustainable fashion mainstream and more accessible for men. But our job, alongside other fashion entrepreneurs, is also to communicate this mission in such a way so that the younger generation of consumers really recognise the benefit of reducing the quantity of clothes they buy, but increasing the quality of them,” Nick adds.

How to become an eco-conscious shopper 


To help contribute to the sustainable movement we must try to make choices where possible to shop with brands using approved materials and have the right ethical approach to sustainability. Here are small steps you can take to making the right choice when shopping: 

1. Try to buy things that are less likely to go out of fashion, such as wardrobe staples and sustainable accessories. These items can be worn for many years to come and it’s a small step you can take to make the transition to being a sustainable shopper. 

2. Alternatively shopping second hand is a great way to contribute to a slower fashion cycle and a great way to save some money too! You can also come across some great vintage gems that could make a great addition to your wardrobe!

3. An obvious yet very important step is to shop ethically - ethical clothing companies have grown in popularity and these brands not only offer great clothing items but also tackle issues such as pollution and toxic materials, climate change and wildlife habitats. A win-win situation.



Absolutely Bear surveyed 1,000 adults aged 30 or under in September 2021, via OnePoll. 


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