Conscious consumption trend emerges in Russia after the pandemic

Russian fashion is shifting towards sustainability, although consumer habits are changing sluggishly compared to Western countries. Ecological damage and animal protection are among Russian customers’ top concerns.

A new generation of Russian consumers could soon be spending more on sustainable brands, considers Vogue Business. Key fashion retailers Lamoda and Wildberries as well as popular Russian designers are starting to prioritise conscious consumption. Lamoda, which is one of the largest Russian apparel online stores, launched a special platform for eco-friendly and conscious fashion in November 2020. In the first two months, customers of Lamoda Planet spent about 50 million rubles ($700,000) on eco-friendly, ethical and charitable goods. The initiative is based on the results of research exploring which social issues customers would like brands and retailers to address. “The adoption of sustainability is quite high, especially among the young audience,” says Lamoda’s Chief Digital Officer Yulia Nikitina.

However, consumer attitudes of Russians are changing more slowly than in most Western countries. A significant part of the country’s population is still facing economic hardship. “The main criteria for choosing apparel and footwear is unit price,” says Nadejda Kreč, senior analyst of Euromonitor International market research agency. “Other issues, including social ones, are far from priorities for the majority of Russian fashion consumers.”

According to Director for Development of Russia’s biggest online marketplace Wildberries Vyacheslav Ivashchenko, the trend towards responsible consumption and production cannot yet be called massive in Russia, although Russian buyers are getting interested in it “thanks to the influence of the media and the blogosphere”.

Meanwhile, analysts predict that significant change is on the way. “Russian retailers and brands should start to prioritise social responsibility, particularly around sustainability, diversity and inclusion,” considers Kreč. She calls conscious consumption one of the key Russia consumer trends to emerge since the pandemic and advises fashion brands to focus first on environmental sustainability. “There are few green areas and parks in cities,” she says adding that “any projects to open new parks and plant trees on a regular basis will have a beneficial effect”. Poverty relief could be another direction of development, considers Kreč. Lamoda’s consumer research names ecological damage and animal protection among top concerns for Russian consumers.

As for Russian designers, they have been pushing socially responsible fashion for many seasons, says President of the Russian Fashion Council Alexander Shumsky. Such well-known designers as Alena Akhmadullina are working with eco-leather, and slow fashion, upcycling and recycling are key themes at each fashion week. “The [Russian designers] are not like big brands or chain brands — they are very connected to their clients,” explains Shumsky. “They see that Russian clients are starting to think about the environment and sustainable fashion and are demanding this attitude from the brands they like.”

Euromonitor expects the Russian apparel market to rebound moderately after last year’s drop and add 4% to around $38 billion in 2021.

By Anna Litvina

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