2019 is drawing to a close and another cycle of fashion trends ends. Not only did this year present to us statement chunky trainers, biker shorts and tiny sunglasses, but it introduced the concept of sustainability, with the help of 15 year-old climate activist, Greta Thunberg. A change is certainly happening in the world of fashion, consumers are becoming more conscious when purchasing and I for one hope it isn’t just a “trend” we leave behind come the new year.
Sustainable fashion: clothing/footwear/accessories that have been sourced and created ethically, this includes all different stages including; production, manufacturing, transporting, marketing etc.
Why do we need sustainable fashion?
As a 20 year-old female, I can admit that I too fall victim to the push notifications that light up my phone screen from PLT and MissGuided, I’m only human and 30% off is just really hard to ignore. So, I scramble to create a basket as though this “last chance” discount doesn’t occur every other day, stocking up on cropped jumpers, back up dresses and a few options for those “jeans and a nice top” kind of nights, maybe even a new bobble hat because its getting colder and I don’t have one that colour? We are all too familiar with this pattern, becoming mindless creatures of consumption for no real reason other than habit. You may be wondering “So, what? I’m not harming anyone.” And I do agree, you aren’t harming anyone… intentionally. After some thinking and a few hours scouring the internet, it turns out that this sort of behaviour does in fact contribute to the worlds suffering, as well as many of its people. I’ll list below some facts that I found to be a good wake-up call and unveil the truth about the industry.
- The fashion industry is the second most polluting industry in the world, being second only to the oil industry.
- 170 million children are exposed to child labour, with a large percentage being worked in the textile and fashion industry as the work is considered to be low-skilled labour.
- In 2018, 1,113,000 tonnes of new clothing items were purchased, most of which ends up being dumped in a landfill which won’t decompose for 200 years or more.
- There are over 40 million garment factory workers worldwide, making below $3 a day, working in horrific conditions.
Where can we go for sustainable fashion?
I think by beginning to question and consider where our fashion is coming from and how it gets from laptop screen to our door, is a good place to start. Sustainable fashion is a growing market and if we as consumers show the demand is there, it will only become more accessible to us.
H&M have been championing a more sustainable future for fashion since 2013 when they launched their global garment collection initiative. This allowed customers to drop off their unwanted clothes (of any brand and condition) to any of the H&M stores, rewarding them with a £5 voucher. Along with this, they launch a new Conscious Exclusive collection each year which they create high end and environmentally friendly pieces.
Zara saw this opportunity and following in H&M’s footsteps launched their own campaign, “Join Life”, consisting of sustainable garments made form forest friendly and animal friendly materials. These effort from two high street brands may seem like a small drop in a massive ocean however it is a step towards a brighter future, and by bringing sustainable clothing to mainstream brands it is much more accessible to the average consumer.
Following the sustainable and conscious consumer trend that is becoming more and more popular, is rental websites for your clothes. We’ve all been there, buying a brand new outfit that we love, we wear, we get our Instagram pic, we never see it again and it is put to a dark corner of our wardrobe. These websites offer a solution to these poor habits, by simply renting the occasion-wear, go to the event and conveniently return. I think its a great idea especially for the party season with those Christmas nights out that just aren’t worth investing in and I can see this type of business growing in the new year. Below I have included some sites along with their Instagram tag if you want to investigate further.
- Rent A Dress UK (@rentadressuk)
- Hurr (@hurr)
- My Wardrobe HQ (@mywardrobe_hq)
- Hire Street UK (@hirestreetuk)
I think in today’s climate, we all have some sort of responsibility to do as much as we can in creating a healthier planet and this is just a small change we can consider doing, and implement in our day to day lives. Even just to take that moment when frantically browsing the latest influencer line from ‘In The Style’ to ask yourself, “Do I really need this?”and “Do I really want it?” And if the answer is yes, then buy it, treat yourself. But if there is a moment of doubt then why not opt for a different option, one with less of a detrimental impact, without exploitation and without pollution. Just some food for thought.
Bronagh Carey is a final year student Bsc in Communication Management and Public Relations at Ulster University. She can be found at: Instagram bronaghcarey_ and LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/bronagh-carey-702626173/