Hint: They already want to; here’s how to bridge the gap

Sustainability in fashion is on the rise, and we have the data to show that consumers want to support slow fashion. In fact, 84% will say they’d like to shop sustainably, yet only 10% actually do. This is often referred to as the “say-do” gap in the fashion industry.

To understand more about this phenomenon and how to encourage sustainable consumer behaviour, we spoke with five industry experts including designers, stylists, and researchers on how to bridge the gap for your brand.

Here are our top three suggestions for brands to help consumers make sustainable fashion choices:

1. Understand the behavior and psychology behind shopping

Before diving into marketing strategies and data, it’s important to understand why people shop and what they look for when shopping. Livvy Drake, a sustainability and behavior change consultant, explained that there are two parts of the brain that help people make decisions. 

“One is responsible for logical thinking – which is the side that is responding when people say they’d like to shop sustainably,” says Livvy. ”But shopping is emotional, so the other side of the brain is triggered when it comes to making a purchase. Fast fashion triggers instant dopamine hits that we’re all addicted to; that’s why people tend to forget their true intentions,” hence the say-do gap.

Jakob Dworsky, the co-Founder of ASKET, notes “very few people will buy something just because it’s sustainable. As a brand, you must ensure your products are competitive on all the aspects that factor into purchasing decisions, like quality, price point and design.”


2. Connecting with consumers and building trust

The fashion industry is crowded with brands vying for consumer’s attention, and sustainable fashion is experiencing increasing density. With Enterprise companies launching their own sustainable initiatives with big marketing budgets, it’s important for all brands to create trust and genuine connection through storytelling and transparency.

Lara Pizzato, a FashionTech and sustainability consultant, says it “depends on the dream and vision of the product a brand is selling and having the consumer buy into that”

With e-commerce booming since the start of the pandemic, brands are facing the challenge of connecting and building trust with consumers virtually. Andrea Rosso, the founder of MYAR, points to “storytelling, romanticism, and visuals as important factors” to help bridge the gap that e-commerce creates between a brand and its consumers. 


3. Make your products and story accessible

Consumers are often paying for convenience; information, products, and data need to be easily accessible and readily available.

“It’s really hard to shop sustainably,” says Jakob. “It’s an overwhelming task for consumers to sift through greenwashing.” It’s a brand’s responsibility, at the end of the day, to make their story, sustainability efforts, and shopping experience accessible

To reduce the burden on consumers, Jakob recommends radical brand transparency to encourage responsible decision making. Most recently, ASKET has shared their costs and factories with consumers to give them the information they need to shop mindfully. 

“Brands need to be prepared to share anything a consumer may ask about and also have information about their supply chain readily available so you can communicate authentically,” says Andrea. Sustainability reports are typically obscured in About Us sections on brands’ websites, making it inconvenient for consumers to access. 

“That’s why Green Story’s incorporation of statistics to help consumers understand the impact of garments throughout their shopping journey is so awesome,” says Jaclyn Patterson, wardrobe stylist and founder of ShopWise. 

The data indicates that consumers want to help the planet and shop from brands with green supply chains. Now it’s time for brands and consumers to work together to bridge this gap and make sustainability the norm. 

Lara Pizzato
FashionTech and Sustainability Consultant, Fueled

Lara is a strategic marketing and innovation consultant working at the intersection of technology, sustainability and fashion. She’s also a startup mentor at Fashion for Good Accelerator and the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership.

Andrea Rosso
Founder, MYAR

Andrea Rosso is the Founder of MYAR, an Italian up-cycling brand that reclaims vintage military styles giving it a second life in a civil environment. He is also Sustainability Ambassador and Up-cycling Artistic Director and Creative Director at Diesel.

Jakob Dworsky
Co-Founder, ASKET 

ASKET is a menswear brand on a mission to end the era of fast consumption. By introducing a permanent collection of mindfully produced, quality and timeless garments and selling them in a radically transparent way they hope to restore the true value of garments and get their customers to join in the pursuit of less.

Jaclyn Patterson
Wardrobe Stylist & Creator of Shopwise

Jaclyn has a mission to help people find confidence, joy, and simplicity through their wardrobe. With 7+ years of experience, she loves ensuring people get an empowering, ethical, and personalized wardrobe. She also created, Shopwise, a one-stop shop for sustainable and ethical fashion. 

Livvy Drake
Sustainability and Behavior Change Consultant, Sustainable Sidekicks

Livvy works with businesses, events and green champions to achieve their sustainability goals. She uses the principles of behavioural science to empower campaigners, communicators and businesses to achieve greater behaviour change outside of the green echo chamber.