Farewell Fast Fashion?
The fact that the fashion industry contributes more to climate change than the aeronautical and shipping industries combined may lead to a backlash against “fast fashion” products, argues Sarah Butler of The Guardian.
I was shocked that 8 million party frocks from this holiday season will end up in the landfill, and that over half of fast fashion items will be binned within a year. This was a statistic that I had no idea about before encouraging my family and friends to buy that holiday dress that they will likely only wear once. I think Butler’s argument of a backlash against “fast fashion” and the cheap, likely-single use dresses put out by Boohoo and ASOS is likely to occur, if statistics on the damage that fast fashion does are widely publicised. A lot of people don’t know the damage buying that £5 single-use dress will do to the environment, and, if they did, would definitely think twice about it.
A government-backed sustainable clothing action plan, whose signatories include Next, M&S, Ted Baker, Primark and Asos, committed nine major retailers to reducing waste being sent to landfill, water use and their carbon footprint by 15% by 2020. This again makes significant headway in taking legislative action to reduce the damage made by the fashion industry. It appears that consumers are taking more steps to be sustainable than fashion corporations, with apps such as Depop increasing in popularity with younger consumers. Amidst criticism for its £5 “single use” dresses, Boohoo also announced a partnership with ReGAIN, which promotes recycling clothing to avoid unwanted clothes becoming landfill waste.
These measures show that fashion giants are slowly becoming more sustainable, along with consumers. But the damaging statistics of the fashion industry’s impact on the environment need to be further promoted to increase this shift even more.
2018: Progressive for Sustainable Fashion?
Although there is a long way to go towards achieving a fully sustainable fashion industry, this Guardian roundup highlights how 2018 signalled a seismic shift in sustainable fashion.
Mary Creagh, the Chair of the Environmental Audit Committee in the House of Commons, made an announcement halfway through the year that she would be investigating the sustainability of the fashion industry.
For the first time, the detrimental impact that the industry was having on the environment was made a priority in Parliament, compelling headway in moves towards sustainable fashion. Interviewing fashion giants such as Marks & Spencer and Burberry, Creagh concludes that the industry needed to back away from fast fashion and make more lasting clothes that would not be thrown away so easily.
Furthermore, the rise of secondhand shopping, through apps such as Depop and Girl Meets Dress, also highlights a consumer desire to “go vintage” rather than repeatedly buy into fast fashion. The rise of the secondhand fashion economy is a celebration for sustainable fashion, with items being recycled by new buyers, rather than being sent to landfill when they are no longer wanted.
The year’s rise in veganism also links to sustainability, with the banning of fur usage by major fashion brands that was discussed in our last post. London Fashion Week became fur-free for the first time in September: a huge landmark for sustainable fashion and a clear signal of the industry’s shift towards environmental protection. Helsinki’s Fashion Week has even banned animal-based leather for 2019: huge progress, given leather’s previous perception as a staple of the fashion industry.
Whilst the industry clearly has a long way to go towards sustainability, this year has seen significant progress in both brands and consumers alike deciding to adopt more sustainable mantras. I am excited to see what 2019 holds for the industry moving towards sustainability – if 2018 is anything to go by, big changes should be on the cards.
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