36 images JUNE2024 MARKET INTELLIGENCE Tracy Richards of Neutral reports that consumers are making the move to conscientious consumption and what’s more, they are prepared to pay a premium Talking trends: Organic& recycled apparel What are the headline trends in organic and recycled apparel and accessories for 2024? The key trends reflect a broader shift in the apparel and accessories industry towards sustainability and responsibility, driven by both consumer demand and the need to address global environmental challenges. How price-sensitive are customers at the moment? We see a growing willingness to pay a premium for sustainability, especially when customers take the time to study the certificates and audits to understand what they are paying a premium for. Are there any design features that are especially popular at present? At Neutral we have found colour has been important – for instance, the dusty mint, dusty indigo and dusty purple in the new Oversize range have been very popular. Are customers really interested in how and where their garments are produced, what factories are used, how workers are treated, etc? Yes, there is generally more interest all round. This reflects a broader shift in consumer behaviour towards more conscientious consumption. People are looking to support brands that not only talk about sustainability but also practise ethical production methods. In response, more brands are adjusting their business models and marketing strategies to meet these demands, often incorporating corporate responsibility into their core business strategies to build and maintain trust with their customer base. Is the demand for organic and recycled apparel growing? Neutral is growing in both the UK and Europe, so we would suggest demand must be increasing. What was Neutral’s bestselling style in 2023? Do you expect this to continue in 2024 or is there another style that you expect to be a bestseller over the year ahead? The bestselling style for Neutral in 2023 was the Fairtrade & Organic Hooded Sweatshirt. The combination of comfort, versatility, functionality, fashion, and cultural influence has contributed to the enduring popularity. There seems to be no trend to move away from this style. How do you see sustainable product development progressing over the next few years? Sustainable product development is likely to progress significantly in the next few years, driven by several key trends and forces. Firrstly, demand will be higher as customers become more conscientious about their choices. There could be regulatory pressure with governments implementing stricter regulations on environmental sustainability. There could well be innovation in technology regarding recycling techniques. There is a growing trend for companies to embrace sustainability as a core part of their business strategy and with increasing education about sustainability businesses will need to adapt to stay relevant. With the combined forces of consumer preference, regulatory requirements, technological advancements and economic incentives pushing forward, we can expect significant strides in the sustainability of clothing across all sectors. What’s the single best piece of marketing and sales advice you have for our readers to help them sell more organic and recycled clothing? One of the most effective strategies for marketing and selling organic and recycled clothing is to emphasise the story behind the product. By effectively leveraging storytelling, you can deepen consumer engagement, increase brand loyalty, and ultimately drive more sales. The key is to be authentic and consistent in your messaging, ensuring that your stories truly reflect your brand’s values and practices. Tracy Richards, Neutral’s UK& Ireland country manager Neutral’s ‘Tiger’ collection is made from cotton grown on farms that are in the process of converting from conventional to organic practices