Last week, fast fashion brand Boohoo announced their full-year financial results and revenue up to December 2019, jumping up to £473.7m (a 43% increase from last year!) The company said revenue in the financial year to 29 February is expected to be 40 per cent to 42 per cent, ahead of its previous estimate of 33 per cent to 39 per cent. Their announcement quoted, "The Group’s marketing campaigns continue to clearly resonate with young customers as they fully utilise social media and other mediums."
I can't help but ask myself HOW? Haven't their customers seen the articles, or watched the documentaries? Don't they realise how damaging their purchases are to our planet, and the people that make them?
One far less cynical, and data-backed explanation: a study published earlier this month by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and the IBM Institute highlighted consumers' greater focus on value when it came to fashion, compared to other industries. When shopping for food, 44% of people said they were more purpose-driven, seeking products and brands that aligned with their lifestyle or came with health benefits. In contrast, in the apparel and footwear category, more people said they were value-driven (46%), compared with only 35% who identified as purpose-driven consumers.
On the topic of price, it's fair to admit that you can't buy anything sustainable for the same price as a lunch at Pret a Manger. At Boohoo, Missguided and Pretty Little Things - you can. For Gen Z customers, this is a dilemma. They're out protesting about climate change, and loving everything that Greta Thunberg stands for... and yet, they want what's new, they want it cheap, and they want it now. They're also living in an echo chamber of home ownership being inaccessible, holidays being too expensive... so what makes them feel good? A £15 dress, I guess - especially when you've seen it on billboards, in an Instagram ad and in a magazine all in one day. How can sustainable brands compete?