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How the world is future-proofing fashion

Words by Abi Scaife

From luxury threads to the cheap and cheerful, fast fashion has taken the world by storm, becoming a billion-dollar industry that stretches across the globe. Full of cheap, trendy clothing with a quick turnover, fast fashion makes once expensive styles affordable for everyone.

But fashion isn’t all exciting sales and affordable prices. The industry generates more CO2 than the aviation and shipping industries put together, contributing to 10% of global pollution per year. Not only that, more than $500 billion of clothing is lost every year due to a lack of recycling and clothing being thrown away.

Let’s be honest; Elle Woods would not approve. And like the blonde bombshell we all love so much, there are those who have decided enough is enough - something has to change. These people, organisations, and businesses are putting planet before profit to focus on what the world actually needs.

So, who's doing their bit?

Loanhood is a clothing rental app that allows consumers to rent out clothing from their own wardrobe. Set up by three friends determined to make an impact on the world, it hopes to end the overconsumption of clothing, and the prevalence of fast fashion in our world. 

Renting clothing is becoming more popular as an alternative, not only to making purchases at a high price point but to over-consuming clothing. By renting clothes instead of purchasing new ones, you’re preventing the need for new fashion pieces to be created, and all the environmental pitfalls that come along with that.

“For so many people, [fashion] is their form of creativity and self-expression," explains Loanhood founder, Jen Charon. "It helps them feel that they belong with their friends. It helps them express who they are in society... it's a big ask say ‘stop’.

"I think fashion rental is a great alternative for fashion lovers, who still care about the environment. And I think it's going to change all of our experiences of fashion. It opens up your options, and not just the high street or the big e-commerce retailers; you get to access individuals like making really cool clothes. I think that's super exciting.”

What about pre-loved?

A tried and tested alternative to fast fashion, which is increasing in popularity, is buying second-hand - or thrifting, whether it’s charity shops or using online stores like Vinted and Depop.

“Wearing secondhand is a joyful way to express individual style and wear unique items that no one else has,” says Traid Chief Executive, Maria Chenoweth. “From Alexander McQueen to Oscar De La Renta and Selfridges, at last secondhand has become socially acceptable, with everybody wanting a piece of that preloved action."

A 2022 survey found that four in 10 consumers purchased secondhand goods, while one-third said that they sold their own items on the secondhand market. Buying secondhand clothing is just one piece of the puzzle - there is so much more that goes into being more sustainable with your clothing.

“It’s really important to keep clothes in circulation, so buy good quality, only buy what you know you will wear, repair and if you have clothes that you no longer wear and someone else could, then donate them to charity,” explains Maria. 

Giulia Alvarez-Katz, a self-described ‘Zilennial’, almost exclusively buys secondhand - from kitting out her wardrobe to furnishing her apartment, it’s all pre-loved.

“The more globally-minded importance of buying secondhand only became clear to me in adulthood as I learned about the waste involved in fast fashion; how much fabric is disposed of and never used again," explains Giulia.

“Some people are disillusioned by fast fashion or actively want to boycott it. I've noticed there's a growing sense among fashionistas that older garments are made with more care and attention to detail.”

So that’s the tea. The fashion industry still needs to undergo some major changes to make it sustainable, but there is hope – and there are people out there making changes.

There are so many people out there fighting to make a difference and to make sustainable fashion the norm.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Responsible Consumption and Production.

This article aligns with the following UN SDGs

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