The fashion industry is now worth $3 trillion. Consumption of clothing is up 500% in the last 30years. This huge growth has come as a result of fast fashion. High street brands such as Topshop, H&M and Boohoo can mass-produce clothing using cheap materials and labour. This means customers can get the current fashion trends quickly at a very low cost.
Zara was the first retailer to bring the catwalk to the masses. This helped them become the worlds largest fashion brand. Everyone wins, right?
Wrong. Cheap materials cause poor quality items. These clothes do no last and the consumer ends up having to buy more. These materials also waste away through washing, microplastics are released while washing. Microplastics stay in the water and end up in our water supply. That equates to 500,000 tonnes of microplastics a year.
Fashion trends change so quickly that in the U.K., adults only wear 44% of the clothes in their wardrobe. On average a piece of clothing is only worn 10times before it gets thrown out. It is estimated that half all fast-fashion products are thrown away in less than a year. That’s exactly what happens, clothing gets thrown out. In the U.K. we send 350 million tonnes of clothing to landfill.
As consumers, we need to slow down our fashion. Fashion trends always come back. How many times have you seen old trends suddenly come back? Instead of wearing old clothes, we buy new ones in an old style. If you must get a new outfit for a big event, there are fashion rent brands. Rent the runway for example. They allow you to rent the newest designs in the U.S. Here in the U.K., a company called hirestreet are leading the way in clothing rental.
When buying apparel, think quality. Higher quality items may have a higher price tag, to begin with, but will last much longer. They will also hold their value which means you can always sell them when you know you have finished with them. There are also second-hand items. You can find some real bargains in charity shops. You will also
then be helping the said charity make a difference in their field. Donating your used items to these shops or friends and family will stop the tonnes of clothing waste. Look for sustainable fashion brands, brands that use organic cotton or recycled materials that are trying to make a difference. These brands are usually smaller and independent. The underdogs of the fashion world. People Tree and Thought are great. We have also discovered a small brand called harp & harbour who are passionate about keeping our oceans clean.
Save your cash and save the planet. Slow down and be apart of the change.