Session 31 - Circular economy and bioeconomy

Investigation of customer behavior regarding circular fashion: A case study of Cyprus

Hera I Friday 1 September 17:15 - 17:30
Humans can't function without energy, nutrition, and clothing. Each one plays a fundamental role in amplifying global warming, CO2 emissions, resource depletion, and the shaping of social norms. Value estimates for the global fashion industry range from $1.5 trillion in 2020 to an estimated $2.25 trillion in 2025, demonstrating a persistent rise in demand (Papamichael et al., 2022, 2023b). Overconsumption of textiles and clothing has been widely observed to have negative environmental effects due to consumer behavior (i.e. compulsive patterns, purchases, and disposal practices) and disposal mindsets of the consumers that are directly connected to fast fashion trends (Baier et al., 2020). Consumer behavior plays a crucial role in the success of circular fashion initiatives. Circular fashion aims to reduce the environmental impact of the fashion industry by creating a closed-loop system where waste is minimized, and materials are reused, recycled, refurbished, remanufactured etc (D’Adamo et al., 2022; Papamichael et al., 2023a). Consumers can support this movement by making conscious choices, such as buying second-hand or upcycled clothes, repairing and maintaining their clothing, and recycling or donating items they no longer use. Additionally, consumers can support brands that incorporate circular principles in their design and production processes, such as using sustainable materials and minimizing waste. By adopting a circular mindset and making sustainable choices, consumers can contribute to a more sustainable and environmentally friendly fashion industry (Koszewska et al., 2020). However, several barriers prevent consumers from adopting sustainable fashion practices. One of the primary barriers is the lack of awareness and education as consumers, therefore, citizens, are not familiar with sustainable fashion, its benefits, or how to identify sustainable products. Additionally, sustainable fashion is often associated with high prices, which can be a barrier for consumers who have limited budgets. Moreover, the fast-paced nature of the fashion industry, with new trends and collections constantly emerging, can make it challenging for consumers to keep up with sustainable options (Abbate et al., 2023; Guillot, 2022). Another significant barrier is the lack of availability of sustainable fashion products. Sustainable options are often limited, and consumers may not have easy access to them. Additionally, sustainable fashion products may not be available in the same variety and styles as fast fashion, making it challenging for consumers to find sustainable alternatives that fit their personal style. Finally, some consumers may not prioritize sustainability when making purchasing decisions. Other factors, such as price, convenience, and aesthetics, may take priority over sustainability. Additionally, some consumers may not feel that their individual actions can make a significant impact on the environment, leading them to prioritize other factors over sustainability (Baier et al., 2020; Ellen MacArthur Foundation, n.d.). Overall, while consumer behavior plays a crucial role in promoting sustainable fashion, several barriers prevent consumers from adopting sustainable practices. Addressing these barriers through education, accessibility, and availability of sustainable products, and shifting consumer priorities towards sustainability can help promote a more sustainable and environmentally friendly fashion industry (Eliades et al., 2022; Kirchherr et al., 2018). As a result, this study employs questionnaires to inquire into textile disposal practices in Cyprus, as well as consumers' willingness and ability to pay for labeled or non-labeled circular products (i.e. clothes made from waste) and the correlation between these queries and extraneous factors (i.e. educational level, age, income etc.). When it comes to clothes, shoes, and any fashion product (labeled and unlabeled), there is a significant gap between what consumers are willing to pay and what they are able to pay. In order to create targeted strategies and business models that are tailored to the characteristics of the island, the results of this study aim to uncover the most important statistics regarding the disposal of apparel in Cyprus (Gazzola et al., 2020). Further research is required to investigate and reveal additional key variables that influence consumers' willingness to pay for specific sustainable apparel products in specific markets. Understanding the level of consumer knowledge regarding sustainable and circular fashion will facilitate the transfer of knowledge and understanding of the impact of their purchases on all three pillars of sustainability (environment, economy, society).