For new sustainable fashion brands planning to enter Germany, there are a few essential insights of the current fair and sustainable fashion market that will help you to understand the market and its consumers better.

Sustainable, ecological and fair fashion is no longer a niche product. The market is growing steadily and in Germany, we expect a strong acceleration in the overall fair fashion and textiles market as revealed by various data sources. In just 6 years, turnover in this segment increased seven fold from 16,3 million euros to 129,1 million euros with a huge leap from 2016 to 2017, where revenues increased by 66 %.

This positive development is reflected in the rising visibility of a large number of companies and shops in Germany that have been expanding their product range towards sustainable fashion and thus making it suitable for the masses.


Sustainable and Fair Fashion Stores (brick and mortar)

There is a long list of shops for green fashion in Germany, included in the Greenpeace Textile Guide, that give an impression of how diverse and progressive sustainable fashion in Germany has become. The list is also proof for the possibility of being profitable in this segment. For a more visual, mapped store list, take a look at getchanged.net.

Three key take aways from the list:

  • 150 + shops in Germany solely dedicated to eco, fair and sustainable fashion (not taking fast fashion brands with eco collections into account)
  • Top fair fashion hotspots are Berlin (20), Hamburg (14) and Munich (12)
  • There are yet only three trans-regional fair fashion chains, i.e. Glore, focused on responsible fashion (6 stores), Grüne Erde, focused on green home living and fashion (7 stores), Manufactum, focused on high-quality and durable fashion and lifestyle products (5 stores)


Germany’s Consumer Behavior in Sustainable and Fair Fashion

In 2016, a study about consumer behavior of Germans in sustainable fashion has been conducted, analyzing the results of 1.019 interviews. Key insights of the The Slow Fashion Monitor are:

  • The brand of clothing is rather unimportant. Rather, consumers expect quality and longevity of their clothing (favorite pieces are stored and worn for an average of nine years)
  • Three out of four consider the factor “sustainability” in fashion to be important (but mind the attitude-behavior gap!)
  • Three out of ten Germans have already bought at least one sustainably produced item of clothing in the last 12 months
  • German consumers like to buy fair fashion equally online and offline


Also, in regard to fair fashion, the German consumer again proves to be very trust seeking
. Main premise for buying sustainable fashion, brands and retailers have to be able to ensure that their products really are 100 % sustainable. Six out of ten respondents consider certifications to be important when buying clothing.

Sustainable Fashion in Germany

Source: https://www.splendid-research.com/de/slowfashion.html

Another interesting metric is the German’s willingness to pay for sustainable fashion among different regions. The results show the differences in distribution between West and East Germany. For a fair, simple cotton t-shirt, consumers in the old federal states (West Germany) would pay 25,30 € whereas in the new federal states (East Germany) consumers would only pay 21,44 €. In Berlin the price point is at 23,37 €.

German Fair Fashion Brands and Online Shops

The best-known sustainable fashion brands are Grüne Erde, Hessnatur and ArmedAngels. Best known online shops are Avocado Store, Waschbär, Mr. & Mrs. Green and Manufactum. For more specific information about brands, Utopia delivers a good overview, including a rating.

However, brand awareness of the individual labels varies considerably depending on the place of residence, age and net household income. Most sustainable fashion shops and labels are still largely unknown.


Relevant Certificates

Since German consumers rely on trustworthy certifications, fashion brands entering the German market, should be aware of which are relevant. According to Greenpeace, only three labels meet their high requirements for recycling, fair working conditions and the use of chemicals:

  1. “Best”
  2. “Global Organic Textile Standard” (“GOTS”), both by the International Association of the Natural Textile Industry and
  3. “Made in Green” by Oeko-Tex.

Apart from these, German consumers are most aware of the label “Blauer Engel” as it is labeling environmental friendly products for 40 years already. Just bear in mind that this label only takes into account environmental metrics and no social metrics.


Summary

The trend of sustainable and fair fashion in Germany is best understood in the light of the mega trend towards a more “moral” consumption overall, in all areas of life. There has been enormous growth in the fair trade market in recent years. While the turnover with Fair Trade products in Germany in 2005 was 72 million euros, by 2017 it has already reached 1,3 billion euros.

As a new brand, if you want to enter new markets, Germany is a good choice. What you have to keep in mind:

  • German consumers value certifications,
  • Expect quality and longevity
  • There are regional differences in purchasing power you should be aware of
  • Most sustainable fashion shops and labels are still largely unknown

The latter point indicates that there is vast potential for new sustainable fashion brands to come. Not only for the already conscious consumers but especially for the big share of the consumers not yet aware.