SLOWING DOWN FAST FASHION
Updated: Oct 5, 2019
AT THE BEYOND RETRO vintage fashion store in Shoreditch, a community of green enthusiasts gathered for an evening of talks, music and a panel discussion on the future of ethical fashion, writes Lujane
The sold-out event set up by the No Planet B Community was part of a drive to make sustainability the new norm; but how fast is the fashion industry catching up?
As the deadline looms for the United Nations’ low-carbon Mission 2020, there is growing pressure on the fashion industry to improve its sustainability standards. The environmental impacts of the fashion industry are well documented, but this trillion-dollar industry also creates millions of jobs around the world.
Earlier this year MPs in the UK declared that having the fashion industry volunteer to improve its sustainability is failing. Just ten fashion retailers signed up to reduce their
water, waste and carbon footprints. Some retailers have made significant improvements to their supply chain. However, the UK Environmental Audit Committee’s recent report, Fixing Fashion: clothing consumption and sustainability, suggests we need a new economic model for the fashion industry, based on reducing the material consumption associated with its growth. Common Object chief executive Tasmin Lejeune wants to help organisations to understand their environmental impact. She set up the website CO to match businesses with the connections and resources they need to have a positive impact on people and the environment. The not-for-profit organisation has also launched the CO awards, to recognise and promote sustainable businesses.
However, sustainability is not the fashion industry’s only ethical problem, the event at Beyond Retro heard. Big retailers are still failing to comply
with the modern slavery act. Fashion Revolution presented its ambitions for the Fashion Transparency Index, to press big businesses to disclose their social and environmental policies, practices and impact.
Organisations such as Fashion Revolution and CO are paving the way for the fashion industry to become a better business. There is a growing consensus within government that the time has come end the era of throwaway fashion.
By offering incentives to companies that offer sustainable designs and repair services and naming and shaming the less ethical players, fashion becomes less about next season’s must-haves and more about a brand new economic look.