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NEW YORK – New research found 61 per cent of consumers will prioritise price over sustainability when shopping for fashion. The survey of 2,000 US and UK customers also found 55 per cent agree sustainable fashion is often too expensive, an issue being extenuated by the cost of living crisis.

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The findings come from research by Nosto, the commerce platform.

The results also suggest rising popularity for repair services. 58 per cent of respondents said they now try keep clothes for longer to protect the environment, and 60 per cent agree that one way fashion ecommerce brands could be more sustainable is to offer repair services. 42 per cent said they have thrown away fashion items they would have liked to keep because they could not get them repaired.

Ecommerce delivery windows have shortened in recent years, with next day and same day delivery options becoming popular. However, 54 per cent of respondents said they’d now be happy to have slower deliveries for fashion purchases if it allowed companies to cut the number of truck/van journeys.

Recently, the likes of fashion retailer Uniqlo and UK department store, Selfridges, have started to offer repair services as part of their sustainability initiatives. But the challenge for online retailers is finding a way to scale a profitable repairs solution, specially if they don’t have existing brick and mortar stores.

Around half (49 per cent) of respondents said they agree product returns are bad for the environment on the basis that they waste fuel, packaging and other resources. But charging shoppers for returns (as many fashion brands are now doing) was rated the least popular way to address the problem according to the survey.

Alternative tactics that consumers agreed would help were: make it easy for shoppers to query items online such as through live chats (64 per cent); display user-generated content (UGC) images and videos of other customers wearing their purchases to show what they look like on real people (61 per cent); and offer virtual try-on tools to help shoppers visualize how they would look in outfits (59 per cent).

Despite the pressure on people’s wallets, there remains a sizeable chunk (39 per cent of survey respondents) who say they would in fact consider paying more for sustainably made versions of the same clothes. However, a lack of transparency surrounding sustainable fashion and mistrust about what brands say about it remain major stumbling blocks.

More than half (55 per cent) of consumers in the poll said working out what fashion items are sustainably made is confusing. 57 per cent of women and 50 per cent of men said when they shop online, they don’t know how to identify if an item of clothing is sustainable or not.  

54 per cent of respondents said they don’t completely trust the claims some brands make about their commitment to sustainability anyway.

Unsurprisingly, 64 per cent of consumers who were polled said one way that retailers can make online fashion shopping more sustainable is simply to provide clearer information to make it is easier to find products that are made in sustainable/environmentally friendly ways.

Another tactic that 57 per cent agreed would help is if retailers could allow shoppers to personalize their online shopping experiences so that they are only shown sustainable/environmentally friendly fashions/clothes.

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