Birkenstocks are the New Black: The rising trend of conscious consumers

Shutianyi Li/Daily Trojan

As a fashion lover, I believe that one of the best parts about shopping is wearing a new piece for the first time and finding the pairings to make the perfect outfit. And when you get the outfit for a great price, the feeling is even better. However, fast fashion’s “great” prices have detrimental, lasting effects on the environment, and these practices can often deter shoppers from spending on fast fashion brands.

The rising trend of conscious consumerism means it’s more common than ever for young people to shop with environmentally conscious vendors.

Part of this growing excitement can be attributed to the increasingly trendy styles and pieces produced by environmentally conscious retail companies. Although this movement has been growing, many shoppers are faced with the fact that shopping at these retailers can often be more expensive.

Despite some higher prices, eco-friendly brands have employed some compelling strategies driving consumers toward making more environmentally conscious fashion choices. Some brands use an integrated social and digital media strategy to sell clothes, rather than establishing a full brick-and-mortar store. As many of these brands are relatively new, they have an edge on more established brands in terms of the social media space.

Environmentally conscious brands like Reformation and Everlane create an immersive experience that allows their consumers to see how their purchases directly impact the environment.

Founded in 2009, Reformation tailors a unique social media and marketing presence. The brand often posts photos of their customers wearing their pieces and pairs them with the amount of carbon, water and other materials that were conserved in the making of this product. Reformation has sold carbon credits to customers, which has helped raise awareness of the fashion industry’s environmental impact and educate consumers on more conscious purchasing choices.

Reformation also uses a digital strategy for its brick-and-mortar stores. Its shops aren’t flooded with bulging racks, they’re simple and clean. It even lets the customer select what they want to try on through a screen, and they’re selection waits for them in the dressing room. For me, this shopping experience is much more preferable to sifting through racks to find the perfect style or size.  

Glaring evidence of the fashion industry’s impact on the environment has been upsetting to many consumers but, at the end of the day, consumers have the final say as to what brands they choose to support with their dollars. The rise of environmentally conscious brands is one way that consumers have shown their demands. Hopefully this will push all brands toward greener environmental practices.

Lilly Howell is a sophomore writing about fashion. Her column, “Birkenstocks are the New Black,” runs every other Friday.