• Vesela Velikova

Sustainable vs. Fast Fashion in Germany - The Strategic Choice

In recent years, increasing awareness among German consumers of their purchasing choices can be observed. The environment friendliness of a product is getting increasingly important for German customers. This trend poses fundamental change for almost all businesses that want to sell in Germany – esp. for those who want to sell consumer goods like fashion in Germany. However, fast fashion is still a trend that obviously leaves fashion brands in a difficult strategic choice: strategic brand value vs. utilization of fast fashion.

Sustainable vs. Fast Fashion in Germany

The request for more sustainable fashion in Germany

Environmental and social issues such as climate change, growing population, and limited resources have led to the growing demand for more ‘ethical’ products or more sustainably produced alternatives (Eberhardt, 2021). It is no surprise that the mindset of the German consumers in regards to consumer goods like fashion, shifts towards “greener”, more sustainable alternatives. Consumers’ values are changing in Germany, which consequently has its impact on businesses, no matter small or big – even no matter whether you are positioned at a progressive niche or conservative mainstream market in Germany.

Consumers’ values are changing in Germany, which consequently has its impact on businesses, no matter small or big

“Ethical consumerism” is gaining more and more popularity among consumers in Germany. Generally, an increasing number of German consumers are forming ‘pro-sustainable’ purchase choices, raising this movement from a niche to a mainstream attitude (Lernoud et. al., 2015). As analyzed before, the 'green trend' is enormous in Germany.

Scandals of fashion giants shed light on the 'dirty fashion'

As a consequence of the revelations and social media pressure, fashion brands that want to sell in Germany have no choice but to respond to the demands of their German target group hat fashion should be more sustainable

The negative coverage of industry leaders in fashion on the German market such as H&M, Zara, and Mango shed light on the reality behind the fashion industry. Scandals concerning working conditions, fraud, and accounting are circulated in the media. That fashion shoppers in Germany become warier of their spending behaviors, is partly due to the rise of online media, where social, economic, and environmental malpractices are being exposed. As a consequence of the public corrective of negative revelations of the fashion industry in social media, fashion brands that want to sell in Germany have no choice but to respond to the demands of their German target groups that fashion should be more ethically made and environmentally safe (Strähle et. al., 2016).

Fast fashion and shopping as a leisure activity

Fashion is fast and shopping is fun.

That consumers in Germany demand more sustainable fashion should be clear to everyone who wants to sell clothes in Germany. However, fashion is fast and shopping is fun and status. Shopping is also considered a social and leisure activity. Meaning consumers tend to make impulsive, emotional purchases when they are buying clothes and accessories.

The 'ethical purchasing gap' in fashion in Germany

Due to impulsive decision making, it is very hard to predict buying behavior (Dhurup, 2014) in between the two dimensions’ request for “greener” products and impulsive leisure fast fashion. As a result, an ‘ethical purchasing gap’ is formed, meaning that there are outstanding differences between what consumers’ attitudes and intentions are when it comes to consuming ethically, and their actual purchase behavior (Bray et al, 2011).

The strategic choice for fashion brands that want to sell in Germany

To find the right strategic positioning in the greener present and future while utilizing small-term benefits of fun and fast fashion, is going to be the trick each company has to form a consistent position on. If you want advice for the right strategy in Germany for your fashion brand, check our services.


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