The growth of the fashion industry has led to ‘fast fashion’, which is essentially trendy clothing created from ideas off the catwalk brought to the high street for a fraction of the price. The textile industry itself generates more carbon dioxide emissions than shipping and aviation combined. However, with rising concerns over the unsustainability of fast fashion, we have seen a remarkable shift towards sustainable clothing, even pre-loved items on apps such as Depop, which considerably reduces your consumption footprint.
But is it just another trend? I would argue, no: sustainable fashion is here to stay.
Depop has been revolutionary in paving the way for sustainable clothing choices. Being able to shop online and negotiate with sellers if you are on a budget makes choosing sustainable clothing options easy. Small-scale entrepreneurs have made mini empires by reworking vintage items of clothing, saving buyers the time of having to scout out these rare finds at charity shops themselves. However, it is not only used items that you can buy on Depop. There are a number of people selling brand new items with tags on them for a significantly reduced price.
Depop, although arguably the most popular reselling app, is not the only buisness taking advantage of this space. Second-hand clothes are being traded on eBay and even ASOS: the fast fashion retailer has a ‘marketplace’ feature allowing users to sell reworked items of clothing.
There is also immense growth in purely sustainable fashion brands. For instance, TALA, the brand created by influencer Grace Beverley, is pioneering sustainable activewear. All their clothing is made from recycled fabrics and sold in recycled packaging. This marks a shift in the garment industry’s business model on a global scale.
Consumers are also demanding more accountability from brands, shown recently by the scandal involving Boohoo who were exposed for underpaying their workers in Leicester. Lockdown has seen a rise in conscious consumerism, with Sky News reporting that 35% of women intend to buy fewer items of clothing post-lockdown. Spending time indoors has given people an opportunity to reflect on the impact of their fashion choices rather than impulsively buying. As shopping has been replaced with other habits, the hope is that these positive choices continue post-lockdown.
Governments have also been taking active steps to support the move to sustainable fashion. Within the UK, the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan (SCAP) has been implemented to minimise the environmental impact of our clothing by bringing together key stakeholders including brands, retailers, suppliers, trade bodies and charities. Over 80 brands have signed up to the initiative, but companies such as Boohoo, Missguided, and even Amazon are lagging behind.
Active change supported by the government and consumers bodes well for the future of the fashion industry, but the work is not done yet. Inclusivity in fashion has just recently been improving but the shift to more sustainable fashion has left plus-size people behind. In second-hand shops and even on apps like Depop, there is definitely a certain size of people who fit into these items of clothing.
Sustainable fashion is quickly becoming the new normal in terms of how we consume clothing. Consumers can choose how they spend their money. With sustainable options becoming more affordable yet remaining just as trendy, consumers can enjoy fashion more responsibly. As more and more people choose with their money, it is clear that sustainable fashion is not just a trend and will continue to incite positive changes in an otherwise unsustainable fashion industry.
Image: Charles Etoroma via Unsplash.