Britain edges Ireland in demand for Tencel material

British shoppers are more likely to demand sustainable clothing than Irish consumers, a recent survey has found.

The poll conducted by Alexandra Workwear asked consumers across the British Isles about their clothing purchasing habits, particularly in terms of environmentally-friendly options, asking them to rank their priorities when looking for new clothes.

The results will be of interest to upcoming brands that prioritise sustainably sourced materials and eco-friendly production processes, such as Tencel material, who may see it as an opportunity to prioritise marketing in Britain instead of Ireland.

The British and Irish clothing divide

In the sustainable clothing survey, consumers were asked about their primary deciding factors when purchasing the clothes they do. Respondents were asked to choose from seven listed options - comfort, price, quality, environmental impact, fashion trends, brand loyalty and whether the clothes looked good on them - as well as one ‘other, please state’ option.

Beech treeBeech tree
Beech tree

The results show a clear preference for comfort and price, with 32.7% and 29.5% of respondents respectively prioritising these options above all other choices. ‘Quality’ polled a distant third, with 19.7% choosing it as their primary deciding factor. 

The survey shows that the environmental impact of their clothing sits down on the list of most consumers’ priorities, ranked fouth of the eight options, with only 7.1% putting it as their primary deciding factor. Notably, this figure drops even lower at 5.88% when considering just the Irish market which might suggest a difference in attitudes towards the environment between the nations.

A Tencel shirtA Tencel shirt

Do the Irish care less for the environment than the British?

It can be easy to read these results as suggesting that British shoppers are more eco-friendly than their Irish counterparts. However, it’s more likely that the differing costs of sustainable clothing between the two countries are the most significant cause of these results.

In the survey, consumers were asked how likely they’d be to purchase a sustainable garment if it were more expensive than a non-sustainable equivalent. Here, 26.6% of all British and Irish shoppers said they were likely or extremely likely to purchase sustainably compared to 11.4% who said they were unlikely or extremely unlikely to. This result suggests consumers are willing to dig deeper into their pockets to help the environment. 

Yet the 11.4% of people who remained unwilling to choose sustainable clothing if it were more expensive than alternatives were made predominantly Irish. Potentially suggesting the Irish are more reticent than the British to part with their cash to help the environment.

However, there are circumstances that might explain this result. A large amount of sustainable clothing for sale within the UK and Ireland is manufactured within Britain. For example, the world’s leading brand of sustainable fibres used in clothing, Tencel, has a factory based in York. 

Lesser transportation fees for the UK would keep the cost of sustainable clothing lower in the nation than Ireland, and therefore more competitive with non-sustainable alternatives, thus making UK consumers more able to afford sustainable options. It seems the issue here is with the cost of supply being higher in Ireland, rather than the Irish being unwilling to spend their money eco-consciously.

This reason certainly seems to hold when we consider responses to another question, “I am concerned about the impact clothing manufacturers have on the environment.” Here 63% of respondents said they agree or strongly agree with the statement, compared to 5.6% who said they disagreed or strongly disagreed, a consistent result across Britain and Ireland. Again, this suggests that both Irish and British consumers ultimately believe the onus for competitively priced sustainable clothing should be on clothing manufacturers to supply it. 

Eucalyptus treeEucalyptus tree
Eucalyptus tree

What the results mean for Tencel material

The results of the Alexandra Workwear survey signal good news for Tencel branded material in the UK as it’s a sustainable fibre manufacturer that produces what consumers want to purchase. 

The survey results show a demand for sustainable clothing, primarily if it can be made at a price comparable to other materials while retaining its comfort and quality. 

Tencel is the textiles industry world-leading manufacturer of 100% biodegradable Lenzing Tencel fibres used in clothing and linen. The fibres are made from wood pulp sourced from sustainably managed beech and eucalyptus trees in a closed-loop process. 

Tencel’s Lyocell and Modal materials can be blended with existing ones like cotton and polyester to create a high-quality fabric. It offers improved moisture absorption with improved texture and durability while keeping a competitive price that’s in line with the requirements of British and Irish consumers.

Given the survey results also show that 44.5% of consumers are purchasing new clothing at least once every three months, with nearly half of all British and Irish shoppers purchasing clothing around four times a year or more, this demonstrates enormous potential for growth to brands such as Tencel in the UK and Ireland.

View the full results for the Alexandra Workwear sustainable clothing survey.