In April 2022, the international textile trade show, Première Vision, as part of IFM (Institut Français de la Mode) x Première Vision Chair, draw a study about the new purchasing behaviors of US and European consumers from France, Italy, Germany and the UK, in terms of denim fashion products, and analysed what criteria consumers think important to define an eco-responsible jean.
Since the launch of Denim Première Vision in 2007, pure denim players, the show’s longstanding target, have evolved significantly and most recently the market has become more, and more fashion oriented, with denim playing an increasingly important part of collections.
In today’s market, a less-narrow and less-fixed, more creative and daring vision of denim prevails, and set off from the traditional denim values of rebellion and vintage. The desire for personalization has given rise to multiple cuts and silhouettes co-existing within the same brand, collection or wardrobe: slim and classic straight cuts are found alongside boot cut, high-waisted wide-legged and baggy styles.
Jeans thus convey several messages, depending on their style, shape, wash and occasion. When formal, they can replace the office suit; in a relaxed vein, they grow casual; when more fashionable and creative, they reflect more personal desires.
This evolving market is also driven by new eco-responsible values and a pervasive and growing digital culture.
For younger generations, responsibility has become a prerequisite in everything from the creative process, on through product development and the choice of materials. This necessitates structural changes throughout the production value chain, according to the study.
Above all, the study reveals that European and American consumers have on average between four and six pairs of jeans in their closet, with some country-specific differences. Italians and Americans have the highest amount, with an average of six pairs in their wardrobes.
Furthermore, nearly half of consumers (and even more than half in Germany, Italy and the US) report owning at least from five tom ten pairs of jeans. Raw, classic, worn, fancy or personalized, jeans are an essential part of our wardrobes.
Among the sample of consumers that were interviewed, they found out that consumers surveyed purchased a pair of jeans an average from one to three times over the last year.
In fact, while about a quarter of consumers say they have not bought any jeans this year (a figure that peaks at 40.8% among the British), the majority have bought at least one new pair (73.2% of the French, 74.2% of the Germans, 77.7% of the Italians, 59.2% of the British and 74.9% of the Americans), and between 17.7% (UK) and 35.6% (US) have bought more than three pairs this year.
When consumers are asked what are their three main criteria when buying jeans, comfort is cited first, regardless of the country (the first criterion for 62.4% of the French, 62.5% of the Germans, 63.5% of the Italians, 67.6% of the British and 68.2% of the Americans).
This criterion is closely followed by price, which has intensified in the current volatile economic context: price is the second criterion for buying jeans for 54.2% of German consumers, 60.7% of French, 55.3% of Italians, 60.6% of British and 56.9% of Americans.
Quality, style and brand name criteria all come next, demonstrating, in an order that differs by country, denim’s inherent fashion nature, with items now expected to be creative and on-trend for a significant proportion of consumers.
However, beyond comfort, price, style and quality, consumers also attach particular importance to the criteria of eco-responsibility and transparency in the jeans they buy: the material it is made of, its place of manufacture and its more sustainable production processes.
Also for this aspect there is a disparity between countries: while in France (22.9%), the UK (22.9%) and the US (24%), nearly a quarter of consumers say that one of the determining criteria for choosing a pair of jeans is their ability to be environmentally responsible, more than a third do so in Germany (33.1%) and Italy (37%).
When consumers are asked which criteria they believe define an environmentally-responsible pair of jeans, answers vary from country to country, but all agree that the most important and decisive element is the material, followed closely in second or third place by production location, and the respect of social conditions in manufacturing plants.
Thus, for most consumers in France (72.2%), Germany (75.4%), Italy (83.6%), the UK (80.8%) and the US (79.5%), the fabric of the jeans, whether made from recycled textiles or fibers, organic cotton or certified organic fabrics, is the number one criterion in terms of qualifying a pair of jeans as eco-responsible.
On other aspects, opinions are divided. In France (41.7%) and the US (44.9%), the most cited eco-responsibility criterion following the material is the place of production. For these countries, (France and the US), which have been communicating and promoting "Made In" for several years now, locally-manufactured jeans has become a decisive factor in the eyes of consumers. This is also the case, to a lesser extent, in the UK, where 33.8% of the consumers surveyed ranked this issue in second place.
Finally, the social and ethical conditions under which a pair of jeans has been produced ranks third in France (35.5%), the US (28.4%) and the UK (30.1%). In Germany (34.1%) and Italy (39.8%), social ethics are cited as the second most important elements in determining the eco-responsible nature of a pair of jeans.