‘Throw away’ thinking: 12 businesses redesigning fast fashion

Posted by | · · · · · · · · | The Hunter Blog | 7 Comments

[tweetmeme] Walking through the elegant Marais district in Paris a few weeks ago, I was in awe of how beautifully all the women dressed. Silk and linen practically dripped off them as they sauntered past, probably just en route to la boulangerie. These are clothes bought to wear over and over again.

parisThis is in steep contrast to the rest of the world, where such a ‘throwaway’ mentality exists. Buy a cheap top, wear it out one night, then throw it away.

This does seem to be changing though. An awareness of sustainability and eco-fashion has made disposable buys seems irresponsible. Not something you’d boast about doing anymore. Retailers are embracing this wave of change too. A new action plan launched in February to make fashion more sustainable and less environmentally damaging.

Lord Philip Hunt, Minister for Sustainability said:

“This action plan represents a concerted effort from the fashion industry, including top names in the high street and manufacturers to change the face of fashion. “Retailers have a big role to play in ensuring fashion is sustainable.  We should all be able to walk into a shop and feel that the clothes we buy have been produced without damaging the environment or using poor labour practices, and that we will be able to reuse and recycle them when we no longer want them.”

The retailers taking part include:

  • Marks and Spencer, Tesco and Sainsbury – all of these have signed up to a range of actions on increasing their ranges of Fair Trade and Organic, increasing take back and recovery of unwanted clothing and supporting fibres/fabrics that enable clothing recycling.
  • In addition M&S and Tesco are supporting green clothing factories, improving animal welfare across their supply chain and increasing consumer awareness on washing at 30 degrees centigrade.
  • Tesco – are extending their traceability programme across cotton supply chains to ban cotton from countries known to use child labour as well as carbon labelling of Tesco laundry detergents.
  • Nike – applying their Considered Design ethos to improving the sustainability performance and innovation of all their product range
  • Ascension Online (previously Adili) and Continental Clothing – Continental Clothing have measured and reduced the carbon footprint of their clothing products.  They are now working with sustainable online retailer Ascension Online to promote carbon labelling to consumers.
  • T Shirt and Sons – already using organic cotton to manufacture their T Shirts, T Shirt and Sons are now developing the first Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified system for eco printing on Organic cotton.
  • Association of Charity Shops, Oxfam, Salvation Army Trading and Textile Recycling Association – increasing consumer awareness on the environmental benefits of clothing reuse as well as increasing clothing recovery infrastructure in the UK.  They will open more “sustainable clothing” boutiques of high quality second-hand clothing and new sustainably designed garments.
  • Fair Trade Foundation UK – will increase the volume of Fairtrade cotton products to be in at least 10 per cent of cotton clothing in the UK by 2012.
  • Centre for Sustainable Fashion at the London College of Fashion – setting up this centre to provide practical business supports to the clothing sector on sustainability and fashion.
  • The CSF (Centre for Sustainable Fashion)and here’s their blog – is also working to put sustainability at the core of business.

    “Our businesses, our practices, no matter who we are, all have an effect on what we do and how we do it. As an industry, we are full of ideas, ingenuity and creativity. Fashion embodies possibility; this is a powerful tool. The building of an industry that can flourish, communicating positive change throughout supply chains and beyond, impacts radically on the societal and economic triggers that fashion is able to influence.”

    However, with such a contradication between ‘sustainable’ and ‘fashion’, how will this translate to the fashion industry, which is ‘ based on a model of continual economic growth fuelled by ever-increasing consumption of resources?”

    Could it be more impossible than spotting a Parisian in Primark? We will wait and see…

    (Also read. Sustainable Fashion: Why Now? A conversation exploring issues, practices, and possibilities by Janet Hethorn, Connie Ulasewicz)

    Colwyn – The Hunting Dynasty’s Director of Planning & Strategy – has collated her thoughts on the trends of sustainability in fashion.

    Download The Hunter Briefing: A Bird’s Eye View on Sustainability in Fashion PDF

    7 Comments

    Zoe Rixon says:

    September 29, 2009 at 3:10 am

    Regardless of the motivation behind the fashion industry’s sudden interest in sustainable clothing it can only be a good thing. However, while I applaud the move towards using organic cotton etc I would like to hear more about the workforce that make the clothing. I know that fair trade is becoming more popular and I think that this needs to go hand in hand with environment sustainability so that the companies that are touting this can honestly say they are selling sustainable clothes. There’s no point in buying a $200 organic cotton tshirt if it was made by a child for 10 cents, no matter how the cotton came to be grown and manufactured. When companies embrace all aspects of sustainability then I will be on board 100%.

    Reply

    TheHunterBlog says:

    October 5, 2009 at 10:05 am

    Hi Zoe, I think a lot of people share your opinion.

    However, the article focuses on sustainable use of the Earth's resources, rather than issues of inequality in our society. In order of priority I see the sustainable use of the Earth's resources as top of the list – without it we won't be around to discuss anything else (let alone do anything about it). And by the time we try and bundle it all together, it might be too late.

    Having said that, you often find that once businesses start to expose their supply chain to scrutiny (the most important step to reduce the carbon burden) consumers become better informed about aspects like the workforce, or the growing conditions. Have a look at Icebreaker – (who now feature a unique ‘Baacode’ which can be entered on Icebreaker's website to trace the wool in a garment to one of 120 sheep stations in the Southern Alps of New Zealand. A customer can then view the living conditions of the animals that produced their wool, meet the farmers who run the stations and find out about their production process.)

    Reply

    TheHunterBlog says:

    October 5, 2009 at 2:15 pm

    Hi Zoe, I think a lot of people share your opinion.

    However, the article focuses on sustainable use of the Earth's resources, rather than issues of inequality in our society. In order of priority I see the sustainable use of the Earth's resources as top of the list – without it we won't be around to discuss anything else (let alone do anything about it). And by the time we try and bundle it all together, it might be too late.

    Having said that, you often find that once businesses start to expose their supply chain to scrutiny (the most important step to reduce the carbon burden) consumers become better informed about aspects like the workforce, or the growing conditions. Have a look at Icebreaker – (who now feature a unique ‘Baacode’ which can be entered on Icebreaker's website to trace the wool in a garment to one of 120 sheep stations in the Southern Alps of New Zealand. A customer can then view the living conditions of the animals that produced their wool, meet the farmers who run the stations and find out about their production process.)

    Reply

    TheHunterBlog says:

    October 5, 2009 at 1:43 pm

    y

    Reply

    cubrikaska says:

    October 8, 2009 at 3:56 pm

    Ha encontrado el sitio con que interesa Ud por la pregunta.

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    kino tashira says:

    October 12, 2009 at 12:53 pm

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    Lazaro says:

    May 25, 2011 at 9:51 am

    In fact, many people don't consider and realize about environmentally damaging. The some people know is that they will buy the good fashion that can make her look beautiful and handsome. I agree the new action make fashion more sustainable and less environmentally damaging. All people should realize it.

    Reply

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