Man-made fibers are falling out of favor as more U.K. consumers opt for natural fabrics, research by Cotton U.S.A.’s Global Lifestyle Monitor revealed last month.
Conducted by Ipsos Public Affair on behalf of Cotton Council International, the survey of 1,002 British people aged between 15 and 54 found that 28 percent of them refused to buy polyester, 17 percent eschewed synthetic acrylics and 2 percent gave rayon and viscose an equally wide berth.
What’s more, nearly half of U.K. shoppers would rather pay more for clothing derived from natural fibers: 45 percent of respondents were willing to shell out more for fabrics such as U.S. cotton versus only 4 percent who would bust their budgets for synthetics.
The reasons for their preference? Natural fibers are more comfortable, 65 percent insisted. Plus, they’re perceived as better quality (57 percent) and more durable (34 percent) than their man-made counterparts. In fact, 83 percent of respondents said cotton and cotton blends are their go-to fibers for the clothing they wear most often.
This desire shapes their behavior when consumers are cruising the racks. No less than 70 percent of U.K. shoppers check fiber-content labels at least some of the time before they purchase a garment, the survey noted. Older consumers were more likely to inspect clothing tags (75 percent) than younger generations (63 percent).
Those surveyed said they pick fibers such as U.S. cotton because of comfort (75 percent), trustworthiness (72 percent) and softness (69 percent). Another 80 percent liked American cotton’s air of authenticity.
Consumers, by and large, also associate cotton with eco-friendliness: 79 percent of respondents said cotton was the safest fiber for the environment, and 69 percent hailed cotton as the most sustainable fabric.
As for who was responsible for producing garments in a non-environmentally friendly way, 40 percent of consumers blamed manufacturers, 21 percent pointed the finger at brands and 17 percent said that consumers themselves should shoulder that responsibility.
“Across all parts of everyday life, consumers are becoming more conscious than ever before about how their actions impact the world we live in,” said Stephanie Thiers-Ratcliffe, international marketing manager at Cotton U.S.A. “However, despite these changes, British consumers continue to favor clothes and garments made from high-quality, natural fibers such as U.S. cotton—a trend that we at Cotton U.S.A. are confident will remain and strengthen in the future.”
At the same time, fiber content isn’t the only consideration for consumers. The survey’s respondents said that fit (87 percent), comfort (84 percent) and price (79 percent) were the most important things to know before triggering a purchase. Other concerns for online shopping abound as well. Shoppers cited shipping costs (70 percent), clothing quality (67 percent) and return policy (58 percent) as their biggest issues on the digital high street.