Young adults fancy sustainable fashion – But don’t know where to find any

A recent survey among young people shows that young adults are as they have always been, myself included back in the day: chasing trends without having much money to spend. However, millennials seem pretty keen on shopping more sustainably, even if it comes with an additional cost – although I’m not saying it should. It’s just that they don’t know where and how to find sustainable gear. 

EmmiThere isn’t much in the way of publicly available surveys among consumers on how they feel about sustainable textiles so we had one made. This survey was made online by an international group of students of our local university this winter, in seven European countries, with 283 respondents.

82% of replies came from under 18 to 30 year-olds, so the findings can be mostly associated with this millennial and post-millennial majority age group.

Major awareness problem

67% of respondents don’t care about the origin, i.e. material, country it’s made in, etc. of their clothes – no surprise there. As a young adult I certainly didn’t care what my clothes were made of. Then again, the world and people’s awareness level have changed since the 1990’s.

Only 3% base their buying decision on a piece of clothing being sustainable. This is probably because one doesn’t know if it is or isn’t. I’m sensing an awareness problem, both with overall sustainability knowledge and communication on a shop level. I for one think it’s a great idea to e.g. make separate sections in shops for conscious items.

That is, however, only a good start; awareness obviously needs to be increased in many other ways. Actually, from the top of my head, I can’t think of any single online platform for comprehensive information on different materials and processes and their environmental impacts. So where would you go as a consumer to learn about these things? Wikipedia?

And here’s the incentive for raising awareness: 51% of the same respondents, a vast majority of which just said no to making buying decisions based on sustainability, are interested in sustainable clothes. The willingness to make better choices is there but not much is happening. Maybe here’s why: only 15% know brands or shops that sell sustainable clothing. So brands: If you have anything sustainable available, perhaps make that your marketing spearhead and see what happens.

Most willing to pay a premium

Now, the most interesting result: 61% would pay more for a sustainable product. I think this is a great percentage considering that the respondents were mostly young people who usually aren’t rolling in money. This is also great news for someone like us, developing sustainable alternatives, and for all brands who are investing time and money in sustainability programmes by e.g. working with us towards the future.

It’s not just that majority says they would pay a premium, but what’s perhaps the most reassuring piece of information here: as many as 41% of respondents would be ready to pay a whopping 20-40% premium on a sustainable item. Then again, a 54% majority said they would only pay 20% or less (so let’s face it; it’s likely that some of them would not pay a premium per se).

Nonetheless, the emerging willingness to pay extra for sustainability speaks volumes of how young people – or let’s for the sake of argument say just “people” – see the world and their role as consumers these days. This makes our hard work worthwhile, because we’re not scaling up an innovation to be a scientific marvel but to be enjoyed by all consumers alike.

Stay sustained <3


P.S. Without knowing more than a short introduction about Spinnova, 52% of respondents said they would be interested in Spinnova’s sustainable fibre when it comes available.


Special thanks again for the survey to the JAMK team; Katerina, Tereza, Francois, Lucie, Clara, Abhay, Abdelhafidand, their tutor Markus, and all respondents for taking the time. Much appreciated.

Survey Results