Fashion Companies to Limit Overall Clothing Production

Are consumers buying too many clothes?

We all know that buying from huge fast-fashion companies has a detrimental impact on the environment. The fast-fashion industry has experienced rapid growth in the last few years. This was heightened during the pandemic, due to the increased popularisation of online shopping which churns out hundreds of new designs every day, certainly raising the question of sustainability, and in many cases, how ethical the production of cheap clothing is. 

In this age, trends are short-lived, yet the demand for each brand’s latest outfits is still high. A contributing factor to this arguably comes from social media stars, flaunting the most recent designs and dictating many people’s outfit choices. Lots of items have become extremely sought-after due to the hype social media creates for them, leading to more consumption. 

Responding to the environmental consequences of the fashion industry, Caroline Rush – the organiser of London Fashion Week and the Chief Executive of The British Fashion Council – has urged fashion giants that they need to sell less clothing in order to reduce the environmental footprint. As it stands, the fashion industry is responsible for approximately 10% of global emissions. Production has a devastating impact on various aspects of our environment, ranging from microplastic pollution, loss of ecosystems and biodiversity, to wasting large quantities of water. 

Rush encourages consumers, “to think about repairing, to think about extending [your clothes’] life, and not putting it in landfill at the end of the day”. There are certainly many ways to prolong the life cycle of your clothes, whether it be through upcycling, reselling, or donating to charity. We as consumers should be mindful of this next time we go to throw something away. Luckily, online platforms such as Depop and Vinted make selling second-hand clothes easier than ever, helping you clear out your wardrobe and make a little extra cash, whilst keeping items out of landfill sites.

Rush also warns fashion giants that “we are at a point in the fashion industry when we are going to have to go through quite a significant transformation and systemic change”. She acknowledged that such drastic changes may not be suited to all fashion brands, who might find it difficult to adapt.

The British Fashion Council has also devised a blueprint designed to target the negative environmental impact of the industry: The Circular Fashion Eco-System Report. It lays out a solution to developing a circular fashion economy by halving the amount of new clothing items, increasing the reuse of materials and clothing, and refining the methods through which textiles are sorted. This in turn would lead to an increase of jobs available in the fashion sector. The report also addresses the phenomenal amount of wastage being produced in the UK, and that change is necessary to resolve this. In the meantime, as we wait for these plans to come into effect, it may be worth evaluating how we as consumers can act more sustainably.

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Holly Jackson

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November 2021
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