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Farfetch Says ‘Conscious’ Luxury Searches Up 93%

Farfetch’s second annual Conscious Luxury Trends Report showed interest in sustainable products once again growing at an outsized rate.

Released Thursday, the report found sales of “Conscious” products grew 1.8 times faster than the marketplace’s average last year. This rate proved shallower than in 2020, however, when sales of such products climbed three times faster than the average.

The online retail marketplace defined Conscious products as those that were either made of independently recognized or certified materials; created via a certified production process; belonged to a brand that scored at least a four (for “large” brands) or three (for “smaller” brands) out of five with the rating agency Good On You; or were pre-owned. Farfetch attributed last year’s increase in Conscious sales to its broader product offering and heightened consumer interest.

Overall, 16 percent of Farfetch customers bought a Conscious product in 2021, a 60 percent increase versus the prior year. The average age of these customers was 32—two years younger than the company average. The gender split was almost identical to that of general Farfetch customers. A survey conducted by Farfetch in April suggested the household income of this group skewed lower, with 35 percent reporting an income above $100,000, compared to 39 percent of general Farfetch customers.

Searches for Conscious terms on Farfetch reportedly grew 93 percent year over year. Use of the Conscious filter on the Farfetch site and app rose 29 percent. In China, 29 percent of customers purchased a Conscious item last year. France saw the strongest growth in such shopping, with gross market value up 149 percent year over year. South Korea, meanwhile, experienced the largest increase, 116 percent, in pre-owned spend per item.

Sixty percent of respondents to Farfetch’s survey said they believed their fashion shopping to be “generally sustainable.” A little more than half, 53 percent, said they were buying more luxury fashion than two years earlier, while 18 percent said they were buying less.

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Nearly four-fifths, 79 percent, said they had adopted at least one “more sustainable” behavior during the pandemic, including 38 percent who said they started buying more luxury fashion because they believed it would last longer than fast fashion. Twenty-two percent said they started selling fashion items they no longer use and 11 percent said they started buying pre-owned luxury fashion. When asked for their top priorities when shopping for luxury fashion, 79 percent cited long-lasting quality.

Less than half of respondents said they took into account a product’s sustainability when making a fashion purchase decision. Twenty-eight percent said they considered whether a product was sustainable, but this was not the primary factor. Only 17 percent said they intentionally bought a product that qualified as Conscious.

Though only 20 percent of respondents said they bought a pre-owned fashion item in the past year, 41 percent said they were “likely” to do so in the future. Views of pre-owned items were up 150 percent year over year in 2021, Farfetch said. Bags, 60 percent of the retailer’s pre-owned gross market value, dominated its used business. Ready-to-wear accounted for 14 percent of GMV.

Sixty-five percent of survey respondents said buying pre-owned gave them access to hard to find/no longer available pieces and 62 percent said it allowed them to save money. Just 27 percent cited sustainability. Twenty-two percent said they started selling their pre-owned fashion items in the last 12 months. Twenty percent said they donated a used fashion item and 13 percent said they repaired one.

Farfetch has taken multiple steps to ramp up its circular efforts in recent years, including buying the resale technology business Luxclusif in December and partnering with ThredUp on clothing donations last June. It first stepped into the resale game in 2019 with a designer handbag trade-in program it called Farfetch Second Life.