Sustainable fashion goes through the second-hand market

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The research Second hand, first choice? A journey back through the sustainable fashion supply chain: from second hand to yarn by Ipsos and Humana People to People was presented at the Fondazione Sozzani in Milan on June 11. The event aimed to investigate the growing impact of the second-hand market on sustainable fashion. Moreover, the speakers at the roundtable retraced the fashion chain to the yarn.

Second hand, first choice? was presented at the Fondazione Sozzani

The discussion highlighted the rising demand for greater transparency, traceability, and social and environmental sustainability in the fashion industry. It emphasized the importance of buying fewer high-quality products and ensuring their longevity. Used, second-hand, pre-owned, and pre-loved are all terms that are redefining the fashion system, and the Ipsos research investigated them by focusing on the second-hand market.

The event was opened by Nicola Neri, CEO of Ipsos, and Karina Bolin, founder and president of Humana People to People. Their opening remarks underscored the need for collaborative efforts to drive change throughout the fashion supply chain, setting the tone for the insightful discussions that followed.

Carla Sozzani, the founder of Fondazione Sozzani, also welcomed industry professionals and emphasized the foundation’s mission. The foundation is dedicated to preserving fashion’s cultural heritage and promoting circularity in fashion. Sozzani expressed the foundation’s commitment to inspiring a responsible community focused on sustainability. She mentioned the foundation’s support for collecting, archiving, and wearing high-quality, timeless garments and accessories, thus promoting sustainability in fashion.

74% of respondents are interested in sustainable fashion

Silvia Andreani, Luxury, Fashion, and Beauty Officer at Ipsos, presented research involving over 1,500 people through Knowledge Panel, Ipsos’ exclusive online tool developed to engage different generations with different attitudes toward consumption and the use of digital services. The survey revealed that 74% of Italians are interested in sustainable fashion, with no discernible differences between generations.

Andreani commented, “What the fashion world has communicated about its commitment to sustainability seems to have resonated with consumers, who see the effort in relation to environmental issues such as the use of sustainable fabrics and packaging. However, the impact of fashion on pollution is still underestimated, with only 11% considering it one of the most polluting sectors, while placing the automotive sector in first place. There is still much to be done in the field of social sustainability: almost one in two consumers would like companies in the sector to do more to protect the health and safety of their workers.”

Additionally, 31% of respondents said they were aware of the concept of circular fashion, generally associated with the more practical and creative aspects of recovery, adaptation, and recycling. Communication should focus on real projects, leveraging fashion’s concrete and tangible nature. It’s essential to pay attention to factors that touch on the emotional aspects that exist in the sector but also represent a potential risk.

Generation Z is the most active in the second-hand market

The second-hand clothing market directly involves consumers who can sell or exchange their used garments firsthand. According to Ipsos, Generation Z is the most active age group in both purchasing (26%) and selling (10%) second-hand items.

Twenty-nine percent of survey participants said they are active sellers of their clothes, while a much higher percentage, 47%, are buyers. The most commonly bought items are general clothing (72%) and bags (27%); only 37% are luxury brands. Physical stores, flea markets, and fairs remain the preferred places for purchases (79%), while online is chosen by 39%. Thirty-one percent of respondents buy on platforms like Vinted.

The most important reason people purchase second-hand garments is to save money (69%). However, 55% of respondents still have prejudices about hygienic conditions.

The overall picture of the Ipsos survey shows that consumers are interested in reducing waste (54%) and giving their clothes a second chance (46%). They also want to earn money from these sales (28%). At the same time, however, consumers still need to be made aware of where to buy second-hand garments (21%), are unsure of what to choose (20%), and are worried about fitting (19%).

“Partnerships play a pivotal role in developing large-scale solutions”

During a roundtable discussion moderated by Alfio Fontana, CSR Manager & Corporate Partnership of Humana People to People, attendees included Silvia Mazzanti, Sustainability Manager of Save the Duck, Simon Giuliani, Global Marketing Director of Candiani Denim, and Alberto Ceria, Senior End Use Research Professional Apparel & Sustainability of The LYCRA Company. The discussion focused on creating a more circular value chain.

Ceria commented, “The opportunity to reuse garments relies on producing quality, long-lasting garments that maintain the right fit over time. Our commitment has always been to bring wearability, resistance, and durability to garments. Additionally, using new bio-derived fiber, we can reduce the carbon footprint by over 40%, offering an ecological alternative without compromising quality and performance. As upstream players in the textile supply chain, we are keen on collaborating to provide increasingly sustainable services to the entire value chain.”

Giuliani underscored, “The increasing interest in the second-hand market is a positive indicator. It’s crucial to consider the end of life of these garments and accessories when they are no longer reusable or repairable. In Italy, several textile and fashion sector players stand out for their commitment to circularity. They are implementing dedicated strategies to close the loop and give a second life to products. However, to significantly impact the consumer system, it’s vital to strengthen collaborations between the various players. Partnerships play a pivotal role in developing large-scale solutions.”

Mazzanti announced, “Starting this year, we are introducing our digital product passport, initially with the spring/summer 2024 men’s outerwear, ready-to-wear, and swimwear collections. This innovation results from our collaboration with Certilogo, a long-standing partner, and eBay. By scanning the QR code on the label inside our garments with their smartphone, our customers can verify the full authenticity of the purchased product (a feature we’ve had since 2015). They can also access a wealth of information about it and participate in the re-commerce of the product on eBay. We aim to promote a more circular economy, prolong the product life cycle, reduce waste, and create additional value. We are immensely proud to have built a community that shares the values of our brand.”

The interest in second-hand fashion requires companies to be more committed to social and environmental issues through supply chain partnerships and transparent communication to generate awareness. It is necessary to integrate the skills of the various players to guarantee a real circular economy, favoring reuse over recycling. We thank Ipsos for the data provided and Fondazione Sozzani for the ethical and social support – hoping to continue together towards concrete and inclusive sustainability,” said Fontana.

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