The 2020


Sustainability has rightly become a hot topic within the fashion industry, inspiring some brands to launch new initiatives, share more information with their customers, and set new targets to do better. Over the last 12 months, over 20 million fashion products were uploaded onto Lyst, and more than 100 million shoppers used our platform to start their search and decide what to buy. To analyse how much the shifts in the industry are actually affecting customer behaviour, we looked at the numbers, taking into account global Lyst and Google search data, active browsing page views and conversion rates and sales, as well as the global media coverage and social media mentioned generated between February 2019 and February 2020.

To compile the results and align on the definition of what makes a ‘sustainable’ brand, we partnered with Good On You, an organisation that helps shoppers make better purchasing decisions by rating companies based on three principles: People, Planet and Animals. Our research shows that, for some customers, we are starting to see a shift towards searching and shopping in a more conscious way. In this report we’ve focused on the products, brands and designers that advocate responsible practices, breaking down the signals that we have seen.

What does sustainable fashion mean?

Good On You: Sustainable fashion means protecting the future of our planet and its people when we design, create and wear our clothes. This includes carefully managing resource use to reduce waste and climate impacts, protecting the welfare of animals, and ensuring the safety and fair treatment of workers all the way down the supply chain. Empowering shoppers to know the impact of brands will have a huge impact on the sustainability of fashion.

Most Wanted

* These ratings are from Good On You and are based on their rating system.

How We Searched

By Materials

Searches for “vegan leather” have increased by 69% year-on-year, averaging 33,100 online monthly searches, while searches for “faux leather” remain constant — this data suggests that customers tend to respond more positively to the keyword “vegan” rather than “faux.” Demand for “eco vegan leather” has also been increasing over the past year, showing that shoppers are becoming conscious of the fact that not all vegan options are environmentally friendly. Meanwhile, searches for leather have decreased by 3.5% year-on-year.

Since November, searches for “organic cotton” have risen by 23%, while “recycled plastic” has seen a 35% rise in interest since January. Demand for Adidas recycled plastic sneakers has been particularly high, resulting in a 305% increase in page views for the brand’s shoes. Fashion searches including the keyword “biodegradable” have also increased 10% since the beginning of the year.

Meanwhile, searches for real fur have slowed down, decreasing 8% year-on-year. Despite what appears to be a decrease in interest for products made with real fur, Canada Goose — a brand known for its fur-trimmed parkas — made its first appearance in The Lyst Index’s hottest brands ranking in the fourth quarter, climbing 14 places into 18th position.

By Product Category

While sneakers and denim remain two of the most wanted product categories when it comes to sustainable fashion — growing 142% and 108% respectively year-on-year — trending searches reveal that customers’ interests have been shifting. Search data shows that interest in “repurposed jewellery” has increased 90% year-on-year, while searches for “ethical jewellery” are up 60% over the same period.

Averaging over 1,000 monthly searches, “eco t-shirts” are trending alongside “sustainable activewear,” for which searches are at an all time high, having increased 151% year-on-year. Outerwear is another popular category, 2 out of the most wanted eco-conscious products being coats. Searches for sustainable jackets have increased 41% since November, with “sustainable puffer jacket” and “vegan leather jackets” being the most commonly searched terms on Lyst.

Sustainable swimwear is a fast-growing category: searches are up 65% year-on-year, with demand for environmentally-friendly bikinis and swimsuits mostly coming from Australia, followed by the UK and the US. However, while fast-fashion brands such as ASOS and Weekday are seeing a rise in interest for their swimwear lines made of recycled materials, the main collections remain at the top of customers’ shopping lists: last June, the most wanted swimwear piece on Lyst was the ASOS mix and match long sleeve tie front bikini, which is made from synthetic fabrics such as polyester and elastane.

By Keyword

Since the beginning of 2020, Lyst has seen a 37% increase in searches for sustainability-related keywords, with the average monthly searches increasing from 27,000 in 2019 to over 32,000 year to date. Over the past three months, searches for “upcycled fashion” have grown 42%. Meanwhile, demand for “second-hand” and “pre-owned” fashion pieces has increased by 45% since November; sneakers, watches and handbags are the most searched for categories alongside those keywords.

Over the past 12 months, the term “slow fashion” has been responsible for over 90 million social impressions, suggesting the beginning of a shift in shopping behaviours. Globally, there have been 45% more searches for sustainable womenswear brands than sustainable menswear brands.

Brands to Watch

* These ratings are from Good On You and are based on their rating system.

The Moments
That Made Us Search

Searches by

Denmark: +114%

  • Denmark is the country that has seen the biggest year-on-year growth in searches for sustainable fashion, with the highest percentage of searches coming from Copenhagen.
  • When buying sustainably, Danish shoppers invest in denim.

Australia: +110%

  • In Australia, denim, swimwear and sportswear are among the top performing categories when it comes to sustainable fashion.
  • As opposed to their European counterparts, who tend to search for “sustainable fashion,” Australian shoppers are more interested in “ethical fashion:” online searches for “ethical” fashion pieces have increased 67% over the past three months.

Germany: +53%

  • In Germany, the majority of eco-conscious fashion searches come from Berlin, where the most searched terms include “faux fur coats” and “vegan leather jackets.”
  • When shopping for eco-friendly items, German shoppers turn to parkas and sneakers.

Spain: +51%

  • Spanish shoppers search for eco-friendly sweaters. The most used keyword when searching for cruelty-free products is “vegan.”
    The top performing sustainable brands in Spain are Stella McCartney, Patagonia and Ecoalf.
  • Demand for the latter — which has been endorsed by Queen Sofía of Spain — has increased by 33% over the past 12 months.

France: +50%

  • In France, the most searched term is “vegan Dr Martens boots,” followed by “vegan Veja sneakers” and “faux leather trousers.”
  • After Jean-Paul Gaultier presented his first upcycled Haute Couture collection to mark his retirement, online searches including the keywords “recycle” and “upcycle” collectively went up 25% over the following 24 hours.

Canada: +30%

  • When shopping for environmentally-friendly fashion, Canadian customers are particularly interested in parkas and jeans.
  • Over the past 3 months, searches for Eileen Fisher’s organic cotton dresses and Patagonia’s jackets have been on the rise.

Italy: +20%

  • Italian shoppers from the Lombardi region are the ones who drive the highest number of eco-friendly fashion searches, with the term “eco fur” being the most used keyword over the past 12 months.
  • Searches for “recycled fashion” have increased 64% in the past 3 months.

UK: +17%

  • Fashion searches including the keyword “organic” are currently trending in the UK and are up 19% month-on-month. “Second-hand” and “vegan” are also popular keywords among British shoppers.
  • Dresses by Reformation, Faithfull the Brand and Maggie Marilyn are the most searched for sustainable products.

USA: +15%

  • “Vegan leather” and “vegan shoes” are trending searches among US shoppers.
  • The product categories driving the most searches are long coats and jackets. Nanushka’s vegan leather puffer jacket was the most searched for product in February.

Russia: +14%

  • Moscow is generating the highest number of searches for sustainable fashion.
  • Russian customers are especially interested in t-shirts made of organic cotton, as well as vegan leather boots.

How are shopping habits evolving? Do you think that brands are changing their behaviours?

Good On You: More and more people are becoming aware of the issues in fashion and are demanding change. In response, brands are taking action – assessing their social and environmental impacts and setting targets to do better. Importantly, they’re talking about it with their customers too, publishing more information about their practices and promoting sustainable collections. It’s the brands that don’t adapt that run the risk of losing market share.

Over the next three years, how do you think sustainability will shape the fashion industry?

Good On You: The current throwaway culture in fashion is inherently unsustainable and needs to change. Innovators are already redesigning business models with sustainable principles like circularity in mind. They’re also educating customers on how to care for, reuse and recycle their clothes over the long run. At Good On You, we envisage a future where people can find out the impact of the brands they want to buy just as easily as they can see the price or size. They are then able to use their purchasing power to make brands, including fast fashion brands, more transparent and committed to sustainable production.