Fast fashion outlets have made their names by providing shoppers theability to stay on topof the latest trends, at low prices. Whether that be traditional highstreetstalwarts like as Primark, or the new breed of online retailers, such as ASOS, the ‘fast fashion’ industry has spent many yearsattracting young female customers. Yet it now seems this love affair is done and dusted, as the very same socially conscious young women are now turning their back on this industry.
At my Pension Advice Company, we like to regularly survey our customers to ensure our products continue to align with the ever-changing investment expectations of savvy British savers. So we asked our clients their views on a range of industries their pensions are invested in.
We were slightly shocked to discover that the majority of our clients have a particularly strong distrust of the fast fashion industry overall. Not only do they firmly believe it is fundamentally detrimental in society, but they also don’t want to invest in fast fashion companies through their pension. This view was strongest amongst female customers aged 30 and under (82%) despite the industry’s clear focus on this demographic.
Whathas driven this massive shift in opinion? We believe it is partly down to increased education and better understanding around the damage that is caused by unsustainable industries for a start. A report from the House of Commons back in 2019 revealed that the global textile production market produces around 1.2 billion tonnes of CO2 per year –which is far more than international aviation and shipping combined. The fashion industry is also said to usearound 79 billion cubic metres of fresh water each year. The UK alone sends an estimated £140 million worth of clothes to landfill every year.
These horrifying statistics certainly seem to highlight the growing interest in sustainable living, along with the demand for sustainable investments to match. Further research revealed that 94% of all adults are now taking steps to live a more sustainable lifestyle – whether this be by recycling, taking public transport or eating less meat. But perhaps even more encouragingly, this ideology is now being openly applied to pension saving, with 48% of respondents now preferring their pensions be invested into more sustainable opportunities to help drive forward this positive change. Additionally, 30% reported that they’d switch where their pensions were invested, if it was considered unsustainable, and almost a quarter of young people aged 18-34 felt so strongly about this that they would actively encourage other people to leave those pension funds.
The clothing industry’s association with disgraceful labour exploitation in shockingly unsafe working conditions, is yet another component of its negative relationship with our pension savers. Our data indicates that savers of all ages and genders prioritise their action on companies that treat their workers unfairly, with 1/3 wishing to remove investment from companies that donot pay a fair the Living Wage to all of their workers.
Sothere is no doubt that there is a united desire to live a more sustainable life, with individuals now making conscious decisions in their everyday lives to reach this goal. More savers are starting to see the power in their investments to transform the world they live in – for the better of society, the planetand of course their retirement.