Sustainability within Fashion

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  • I’d like to start with a question - if fashion business is inherently about creating aspiration and desire to buy a new look, can it be sustainable at all - even if produced ethically etc.

  • I think that with the current system in place ( toxic dyes, waste at prototyping stages, creating unwanted stock) and current lack of technology for real recycling and closing the loop I think that is close to impossible, unfortunately. If it wanted to be sustainable it would have to move to bespoke, biodegradable naturally died fabrics and trims with user's responsibility to wear it long enough.

    And then the problem of always selling new look... I think fashion will have to move to more service, not product-oriented business ( like Rent the runway ) in order to be less polluting and still sell the idea of "new".

  • I agree with Tjasa. The problem goes beyond producing sustainable. It should, as with many other industries, be about simply producing less!

  • So it is very much like turkeys voting for Christmas with fashion, isn’t it? I see all these new sustainable and independent brands coming up and at one of the sustainability event there was a panel on sustainable menswear. They openly said - there need to be more sustainable brands! Something doesn’t quite air right for me with that. So as you say, if it is about consuming and producing less, have you seen examples where brands would find a way to do that? Zara or the likes - the entire business model is based on volume at the moment ...

  • I think the only way for brands not to rely on volumes and still keep it afloat is by providing renting, repairing and second-hand services.
    Patagonia, for example, provides the platform for their second-hand clothes ( https://eu.patagonia.com/gb/en/worn-wear­.html) plus they will repair the one you already have - minimizing the need for new but still gaining some profit. They also did the campaign "Don't buy this jacket . There is a lot of new renting platforms created every day and even though people still prefer to own the majority of their clothes rather than return it at some point, at least this platforms would eliminate some of " compulsive buys" maybe?

  • I wonder what the comparison is between men and women’s fashion in this area - in terms of rentals etc. Is one easier to address than the other? Does one group shop differently than the other ? For example, I shop predominantly on eBay, I rarely even go into any shops at all. My husband on the other hand refuses to even consider it because he only shops from two specific places and needs to see and try the clothes before he buys, and preloved isn’t an option.

  • The Problem is, that you need to produce - and to sell- in order to get the turnover you need to pay your bills. As long as customers are strongly looking for cheap products, sales or other bargains, and in order to compete you need to work on small margins that are not justified, as a single company you will go bankrupt when you produce less. It is the consumer who is able to change the industry but this requires a very broad change in consumption pattern.

  • Sustainable fashion website (not yet completed) created by an entrepreneurship team of three 17-year-old London school pupils if of interest: https://biobuy.wixsite.com/bioboutique/a­bout
    Of course most sustainable is to reduce and buy secondhand/charity shops but they have looked into fabrics and sustainable new products (not cheap!)

  • I follow an Extinction Rebellion group in West London that has been planning a vibrant event during London Fashion Week called 'XR Boycott Fashion' outside Lyric Theatre. They have been discussing really interesting ideas, speakers and stalls so might be worth popping along to on Saturday 14 September 2019 12:00-16:00.
    https://rebellion.earth/event/xr-boycott­-fashion/

  • I wonder what role industry bodies and relevant government bodies should play here. Consumers will always be looking for cheaper clothes and better deals - and make choices to the extend that they are informed, care and are able to afford. Sustainable choices in fashion are still a privilege for those who can afford it - second hand shopping excluded, so it precludes a large proportion of population. The industry however needs to have another incentive - behind consumer demand - to make changes and offer to consumers an alternative, so that it is easier for them to make the right choices within their means. I think such two prong approach will help nudge people into the right direction and restrict the ability of companies to do harm.

  • I know from some friends, that there is a huge movement in the fashion industry, trying to make it more sustainable - interesting enough especially in the luxury sector - so they are quite aware of the problems they cause. However still needs to prove they convert plans and strategies into real action.

  • Yes, there is a lot conversations about it. A question always come to my mind though - what is the definition of sustainability in those cases? I think there are many and we all may understand them differently... Luxury sector is built on creating a want where no need exists - and that at its core flies in the face of the sustainable consumption hierarchy?

  • @JessT I have written to them and offered to host their conversations here, private or otherwise. Will you extend the offer personally?

    Further, they are having a meeting with Fashion Roundtable at Parliament about the LFW shutdown. Should be exciting!

  • Been thinking about sustainability in fashion.

    What about some kind of "Traid Up" scheme....

    So the same way many coffee companies are now saying you get a discount if you bring your reusable coffee cup (or even refusing a sale in disposable cups)...

    Fashion companies offer a "Traid Up" discount to consumers who return clothes for recycling or charitable use(maybe for women's shelters etc) when they purchase an item.

    Yes - in terms of the environment, charity shop clothes are the way, yes fixing clothes is the way, but new clothes are amazing and part of a fabulous industry of creativity (despite the high pollutant aspect and obviously some fashion retailers poor labour use)...

    So, customers have to consume things to drive the economy and give fashion designers a purpose and keep trade alive in many aspects - many that are in my mind a healthy and positive part of industry and life.

    So fabric recycling companies, big brands and the government create a scheme to subsidise retailers.(or it is directly subsidised by the retailer with a grant?- maybe a tax incentive to join for the retailer?)
    Retailers then offer a 2/5/10% discount to consumers who return item/items for recycling or reuse when they make a purchase over a certain amount. (Maybe the discount is in line with the purchase amount?) They could also have a loyalty card which gets stamps so that when they have completed ten purchase exchanges they get a £ gift voucher.

    Maybe we could even have a universal "Traid Card" and it gets stamped when we give clothes to charity shops and buy clothes from charity shops. When this is completed we get a £ voucher to use at a clothes retailer of our choice.

    This way we are discouraging used items to go to landfill and encouraging more thought around clothes recycling. And getting clothes retailers involved.

    But I know that online sales are huge so something would have to go around that. Also i don't tend to go to shops so this may be already happening...

    Anyway - an idea for you.
    Anyone able to run with it?!

  • Nice project outside Turner Contemporary in Margate, UK. Kids designed deckchairs using recycled materials.


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  • Oxfam September pledge campaign not to buy any clothes
    https://www.oxfamapps.org.uk/secondhands­eptember/

  • Global extinction rebellion boycott fashion day 1 May 2020
    https://rebellion.earth/event/fashion-co­sts-the-earth-xr52-boycott-new-clothing/­

  • Extinction rebellion fashion awareness event in Hammersmith, west London on Sat 14 Sept 2019
    https://rebellion.earth/event/xr-boycott­-fashion/

  • H&M announced a circular fashion challenge https://globalchangeaward.com/. Do you have an idea that you might want to contribute?

  • According to the FashionLaw.com (http://www.thefashionlaw.com/home/can-th­e-fashion-industry-ever-really-be-sustai­nable) by 2030, it is predicted that the industry’s water consumption will grow by 50 percent, its carbon footprint will increase to 2,791 million tons and the amount of waste it creates will hit 148 million tons.

  • Start-up facilitating transparency in the supply chain by using mobile phone technology to track and improve labour practices: https://www.andwider.com/

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Sustainability within Fashion

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