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Sustainability on the rise in womenswear

New product lines and store openings from H&M as well as improvements from Next and Matalan have stoked a 128% increase in the number of sustainable womenswear products online in the UK, according to new research from WGSN.

The analysis is based on women’s products across 58 UK retailers and men’s products across 51 UK retailers between 1 December and 28 February.

The rise in sustainable womenswear products was also attributed in part to the debut of H&M Group’s sister brands Arket and Weekday on the UK high street as well as a new sustainable spring 18 collection from the retailer which included recycled fishnet and silver in product lines.

According to volume fitness and swimwear saw the largest jump in volume of new-in sustainable products, rising by 40%, with lingerie and sleepwear rising by 39%, jeans by 28%, shirts and tops by 18% and knitwear by 16%.

Volumes for sustainable dresses dropped by 6%, trousers by 30% and coats and jackets by 33% year-on-year.

Gains in womenswear were not reflected in men’s fashion however, which recorded flat volumes of new sustainable products year-on-year.

However, new-in products that were out of stock but still appearing on retailers’ websites grew by 4.9 percentage points on last year, signalling demand and significant scope for exploration in menswear.

The report stated: “Retailers need to think outside the box when it comes to how recycled products are created and used, making sustainable fashion exciting and driving demand.

“With discretionary spending continuing to decrease, consumers need more than sustainability to encourage a purchase, such as newness and value for money.”

The report also noted that there was an emerging shift towards long-term sustainable retail systems rather than short-term sustainable product lines, with retailers such as Asda, Matalan and Next recently pulling orders from suppliers in India and Indonesia after reports they were significantly polluting their local areas.

The analysis by WGSN reflects a growing awareness of sustainability by UK retailers, In March l 25 British companies backed sustainability across their businesses by signing up to the British Retail Consortium’s Better Retail Better World initiative in a bid to address modern slavery, inequality and climate change, and encourage sustainable economic growth and responsible consumption and production.

The pledge guarantees they will maintain human rights and ethical practice in their supply chains, disclose their support for underrepresented demographics across their businesses, disclose their climate changes risks and vulnerabilities, progress towards responsible sourcing practices and increase their use of renewable energy.



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