It has been proven that a fashion industry model such as fast fashion has a considerable negative impact on our planet. As a response to this negative far-reaching consequence sustainable trends have emerged. Upcycling and recycling processes are clear examples of sustainable practices. Many researchers have focused their attention on attitudes toward sustainable processes among consumers and industries and have found an attitude-behavior gap, which manifests itself as a gap between perception and behavior, and also, as the various damaging behaviors that have their roots in a lack of awareness and cultural diversity. Although some effective methods have been devised to increase consumers’ awareness, such as providing workshops and storytelling regarding the past identity of materials, there is a combination of key social, economic, environmental, and cultural factors which can influence the consumers and industries’ attitudes.
Below, various awareness rising methods and consumer attitudes that are influenced by different factors, and their impacts are discussed.
Consumer Awareness and Attitudes
As it has been mentioned before, there is an attitude-behavior gap that can be damaging in itself. Although there are general positive attitudes toward circular products, there is a low tendency toward green buying behavior due to other contributing factors such as:
- Perceived values, and
- Product type
For example, people are more inclined to purchase a pair of running shoes made out of ocean plastic than a sweater. This indicates that consumers are concerned about:
- The quality of recycled materials,
- Cleanliness, and
- Probable contamination
Textile waste is a socially sensitive matter that has led to several movements meant to raise awareness regarding environmentally-friendly fashion choices that would result in producing less waste. Consumers who purchase upcycled or recycled products are aware of the fact that they are not the first owners of that specific product. So, many consumers have some concerns about the probable uncleanliness of the products. Generally speaking, chemically recycled textiles have proven to be more culturally acceptable than mechanically recycled fibers as they are perceived to be cleaner. Other important factors that have a considerable impact on the consumers’ perception of the product include:
- Safety, and
Manufacturers and designers should be aware of the consumers’ needs, preferences, and concerns. As mentioned earlier, providing workshops and giving information to consumers about prior identity noteworthiness of products and their specific stories could heighten people’s awareness regarding the matter and encourage them to purchase upcycled products. Although a significant proportion of consumers in different countries have a basic understanding of the sustainable fashion process, there are different attitudes among them toward sustainable purchase and consumption. The two most important factors influencing the purchase of upcycled products are:
- Accessibility, and
These two factors could influence consumers’ perception toward sustainable use as well as their post-purchase behavior.
Awareness and Attitudes in the Industry
Different sections active within the fashion industry, including manufacturers, retailers, and designers have a key role in improving sustainable practices and products which would accordingly boost sustainable consumption. Sustainable fashion industries should consider economic, social, environmental, and cultural factors. It is of utmost importance for them to display an above-average environmental awareness and knowledge about chemicals’ negative impacts on the aquatic ecosystem. Textile waste supply and used products can be provided by charity organizations, consumers themselves, or main garment factories. Different sections within a sustainable fashion industry should choose a chemical recycling process instead of opting for the mechanical ones due to its influence on the cultural acceptance of the products and concerns about contamination. In general, the technical limitations, and the economic profitability should always be taken into account.