International Family Day, on May 15th, has been proclaimed by the United Nations to celebrate the importance of our attachment to our parents. It was also a great opportunity for us to analyse the links that can exist between this entity and fashion.
At first, the connection was not obvious. Yet, when considering the definition of family from a consumer behaviour standpoint, the influences between these two worlds become clearer. Families are considered as a group of influence in which youngsters build their psychological characteristics.
Typically, parents are figures of authority and they impart consumption values that should be followed by their children. However, the advent of social media influencers has changed this dynamic. In a recent article of the South China Morning Post by Kwak Yeon-Soo, the Jimin Effect was explained. It relates to the pressure experienced by young consumers to buy luxury goods as they are endorsed by their favourite K-Pop Stars. The article includes the testimony from a mother, sharing she bought a $500 Vivienne Westwood bag for her 16 year old daughter. She rationalizes her purchase by stating that it was a compromise as her child initially wanted a much more expensive bag from YSL. However, she recognizes that the item she bought could lead to open up an entirely new can of worms, whereby the teenager would definitely want to upgrade when considering her next buy.
This shift of power, fuelled by influencers, is a trend worth monitoring since its reach is worldwide. In recent past, families of western countries used to frown upon the concept of “Enfant Roi” (King Child), particularly widespread in China. Today, a vast majority of teens are in the driver seats of household consumption, and they are ever more demanding!
In a context of worldwide inflation, it can be challenging for parents to meet their kids’ needs. How does this affect families’ disposable income attributed to fashion expenditures? As it happens, France, the birthplace of couture, seems to be very thrifty! In 2022, a poll by Opinion Way showed that 63% of French people had reduced their clothing spendings. One wonders if this sharp drop is also reflected in quantities of items bought? On May 5th Shein opened its first pop-up store in Paris. The brand considered as ultra-fast fashion has thousands of new products available every week sold at rock-bottom prices. In Paris, the queues outside the store stretched throughout the famous area of Le Marais. Waiting times were, on average, 2 hours to get into the store! Could it be that parents not able to purchase fashionable luxury brands, see companies like Shein as an alternative to provide their teens trendy clothes for a fraction of the price? Is the pressure experienced by families to provide stylish looks to their offspring a threat to sustainability?
Fear not, because not all is lost! With the advent of TikTok we have seen the growth of “de-influencing”, a trend where KOLs of the platform advise customers what not to buy. The genuine nature of these videos can always be questioned (Are those advice not a marketing strategy in reverse? Are those de-influencers focusing on what matters most rather than just give a shallow criticism of products?) but it is a step in the right direction. Similarly, when it comes to buying behaviour, the 2022 Opinion Way poll points out that a quarter of respondents would refuse to purchase a brand that does not genuinely care for the environment or workers’ conditions.
As always, it all comes down to education. Since 2019 IFA Paris has decided to focus on Sustainability through a group-wide implementation of CSR measures. From an academic point of view, the launch of a Bachelor Fashion Sustainability, workshops on upcycling and recycling techniques, natural dye creation, or workshops focusing on societal issues, allow students to have a more sustainable approach in their future careers… and by extension to their consumption!
Visit our website to learn more about IFA Paris fashion school’s commitment to sustainability.
*For more information, read our article about our sustainable fashion show during the European Week for Waste Reduction.