Fast fashion in particular has received the brunt of criticism, and for good reason. According to a 2016 McKinsey report, "across every apparel category, consumers [globally] keep clothing items about half as long as they did 15 years ago," choosing instead to discard outfits after only seven or eight wears. To meet this demand, "the number of garments produced annually has doubled since 2000 and exceeded 100 billion for the first time in 2014." Large retailers further fuel consumer thirst for fast fashion by livestreaming fashion shows and accelerating the pace at which runway outfits hit store floors.
There’s no denying that the landscape is bleak. But will it be the world’s emerging market economies, places like India and China, who lead the world out of this global waste crisis?
Demystifying the Emerging Market Consumer
Though “eco fashion” or “sustainable fashion” has typically been associated with developed markets due to their higher price point, research indicates that emerging market economies actually seem to care more about ethical fashion than their developed market counterparts.
The State of Fashion 2017 report, citing Global Lifestyle Monitor, reveals that 65 percent of consumers in emerging markets actively seek out sustainable fashion versus 32 percent or less in mature markets , a finding backed up by Mastercard’s 2015 Ethical Shopping Survey. Coming in at 78 percent of respondents for India and 65 percent for China, sustainability is by and large a key consideration for consumers in these two hotspots.
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