Going green or just greenwashing – do most Australians trust fashion brands’ sustainability claims?
September 22nd, 2023, Samuel Tan, Jessica Nicole Iacono

Going green or just greenwashing – do most Australians trust fashion brands’ sustainability claims?

Do most Australian consumers trust the environmental claims of major fashion brands – or do most think greenwashing is rampant?

In Part 3 of our three-part series on Sustainable Fashion in Australia, we uncover how often Australian consumers think greenwashing occurs – and how they react to brands who are found to have engaged in such practices.

Scroll to the end of the article to see links to Parts 1 and 2 of our national survey on consumer sentiments towards Sustainable Fashion in Australia.

Do most Australians trust sustainability claims made by fashion brands?

Latest research from YouGov Surveys shows that half of consumers (52%) think that fashion brands lack transparency about how sustainable/ethical their products and operations are (not very or not at all transparent).

Less than a third (31%) think fashion brands have been sufficiently forthcoming about the sustainability/ethics of their business, while a sixth are presently unsure.

When asked how often they think major fashion brands engage in greenwashing – making unwarranted and misleading claims about how environmentally-friendly their business is – over three-fifths (63%) of consumers believe this happens at least some of the time, of which more than a quarter (29%) think this happens regularly.

Another quarter of consumers (24%), however, say they’re unsure how frequently major fashion brands engage in greenwashing at present. Meanwhile, less than one in seven (13%) think such disingenuous practices rarely happen if at all.

How confident are Australians of spotting greenwashing by fashion brands?

Asked about their confidence of detecting greenwashing, just one-third (33%) of all consumers believe it’s very or somewhat likely that they would be able to do so. Even among consumers who try to actively verify sustainability claims made by fashion labels before purchasing, only less than half (42%) express confidence.

Conversely, half of all consumers (50%) think it’s somewhat or very unlikely that they will be able to spot greenwashing by fashion brands, as do 45% of consumers who actively try to verify sustainability claims.

How do Australians react to fashion brands found to have engaged in greenwashing?

Data from YouGov Surveys also indicates that brands who mislead consumers with their sustainability claims stand to lose support from almost three quarters of all consumers in Australia.

A quarter of consumers (25%) say they will completely stop buying from fashion brands that engage in greenwashing, while almost half say they will reduce their purchases (48%) from such brands.

This article is part of our three-part Sustainable Fashion in Australia series, exploring consumer attitudes to environmental-friendly clothing, trust in brands’ sustainability claims and views on greenwashing. Explore the full study below:

Part 1: Which Australians have bought into sustainable fashion – and why others are leaving it on the shelf

Part 2: How much does sustainability figure in Australians’ fashion choices?

Part 3: Going green or just greenwashing – do most Australians trust fashion brands’ sustainability claims?


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Methodology: YouGov Surveys: Serviced provides quick survey results from nationally representative or targeted audiences in multiple markets. This study was conducted online in July 2023, with a national sample of 1,017 Australian residents, using a questionnaire designed by YouGov. Data figures have been weighted by age, gender and region to be representative of all adults residing in Australia (18 years or older) and reflect the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) population estimates. Learn more about YouGov Surveys: Serviced.

Cover Photo by Daisy-Daisy