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Why is menswear still behind when it comes to sustainability?

Sustainability is more than just a buzzword. From homewear to actual sustainable homes, fashion to food, making more conscious decisions is something that we are all… View Article


Why is menswear still behind when it comes to sustainability?

Sustainability is more than just a buzzword. From homewear to actual sustainable homes, fashion to food, making more conscious decisions is something that we are all becoming more mindful of.

Sustainability in menswear has definitely been increasing in recent years, with existing brands paying more attention to their impact on the planet, and new sustainable brands emerging. 

However, this effort is definitely further behind compared to womenswear, both in luxury and in high-street fashion. So, why is menswear still behind when it comes to sustainability? And importantly, how can this change?

In this article, we will explore some of the reasons why male consumers have been more resistant to conscious fashion, why brands have had a slower up-take, and simple yet effective ways the menswear industry can be more sustainable, without compromising on style. 

Conscious consumers 

When it comes to being conscious consumers, there is a gender-gap. A survey held in 2018 by the market research firm, Mintel, found that 71% of women try to live more ethically, compared to 59% of men. 

But why is this? It could be that many eco-friendly products are marketed to women. From beauty to fashion, sustainable innovations are swayed to female consumers. With a market so dominated by women, could it be that men don’t feel like it’s their world? 

Some men may resist ethical and environmentally friendly behaviours for fear of others questioning their sexual orientation or masculinity. Sadly, toxic masculinity means that people often associate empathy with femininity, which can fuel resistance to ethical living and conscious choices. 

That begs the question, do men not make conscious choices because brands don’t market to them, or do brands not market sustainability to men because they don’t engage as well with it?

Interestingly, one of the top growth opportunities in the ethical fashion market is male consumers, who are expected to generate $954.1 million of global annual sales by 2023. That means sustainable menswear is big business! So how can brands make menswear more sustainable?

How can menswear become more sustainable?

Fashion sustainability statistics seem to be dominated by huge harmful numbers. While there is definitely a long way to go, it’s not all doom and gloom. In fact, 53% of the surveyed men preferred buying clothes from sustainable brands against 47% of women.

That means the opportunity is there for brands. From marketing to materials, here are four ways that brands can encourage conscious male consumers to shop sustainably. 

1. Planet-friendly materials. 

More than just organic cotton, smarter sustainable fabrics and fibres are the way forward for fashion. This can be far more complex than just reducing, reusing and recycling. It means looking for materials that are eco-friendly from beginning to end; understanding how much water is used in production, the impact on the people who harvest or work with the materials,  ensuring there is no toxic chemical used, as well as how the fabrics will wear, how to care for them and eventually, how they can be disposed of or reused. 

Just like the 30-Year Sweatshirt, focusing on building a stylish and sustainable capsule wardrobe with timeless pieces made from planet-friendly fibres will mean you have a versatile and long-lasting wardrobe that you can add to seasonally. Thought Clothing is one example of a brand that sources ethical and sustainable materials, they state that “Each piece is crafted using kind fabrics such as hemp, cotton, and bamboo so you can look good while also protecting the planet”.

2. Vintage Jewellery

Accessorising your wardrobe with sustainability in mind will be an important factor for the future of men’s fashion. Whether you’re looking to enhance your outfit with cufflinks, a signet ring, or a necklace, mining gemstones and other raw materials as part of the mass production of the jewellery industry is detrimental to our planet and fight against climate change. 

“Antique and vintage jewellery are sustainable alternatives when accessorising your wardrobe. The reuse of these precious materials reduces the need for new mining practices and breathes new life into handmade designs.” state Cry for the Moon. Vintage jewellery is also a good financial investment as the premium paid on ‘new’ items don’t apply, and there will always be a strong market for collectables.  

Brands can tap into the ethical consumer needs and communicate the financial benefits and uniqueness in a world of fast fashion and mass production. 

3. Marketing Menswear Sustainably 

79% of the men stated that they desired more eco-conscious styles, but not knowing where to find eco-friendly brands was a reason preventing them from making the purchase. Clearly, men’s marketing is not tapping into these willing consumers! 

Sharing eco-credentials, transparent supply chains and celebrating conscious collections could help shoppers to make sustainable choices. Though it’s important to steer clear of greenwashing! 

Men are also more likely to post their green purchases on social media, so encouraging customer participating, by resharing user-generated content (basically resharing stories and posts that a brand is tagged in), could encourage more men to shop and share their sustainable purchases, as they feel like part of the community and an appreciated customer. 

4. Encouraging Rental Fashion 

Men are, in many ways, more accustomed to renting for formal occasions, like weddings. However, men have been left out of the rental revolution in recent years. With women encouraged to rent clothing anytime, not just one-off occasions, menswear rental services seem stuck with suits. 

This may be in part down to the assumption that men are advocates of ownership, so won’t be interested in renting everyday wear. Stressing the convenience as well as the eco-consciousness of renting fashion could be the way to get more men on board. 

Final Thoughts 

While menswear has been slower to promote and produce sustainable collections, it is definitely picking up. With the industry projected to increase dramatically in the coming years, there’s never been a better time for consumers and businesses to adapt and work towards a more planet-friendly fashion for men. 

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