From Garbage to Gold
Lucy Aylmer discusses the trends in sustainable fashion as part of her mini series on the industry
Fast fashion is big business and promises healthy returns for investors, with research suggesting that 66% of all online fashion traffic is attributed to the industry. However, there appears to be a counterculture, the Retail Gazette reported that over two-thirds of the UK favouring the second hand market.
Huge swathes of young people are rejecting fast fashion in exchange for second hand; harnessing platforms such as Depop and imploring quirky charity shops. Praised for their economical outreach and unique appeal the market for resale has boomed in recent years, and the US Chamber of Commerce suggest that by 2023 is expected to almost double from $29 billion, to $51 billion. This will surpass the fashion market’s predicted value of $44 billion. Clearly the trend for re-selling is here to stay.
Clothing re-sales have surged in demand and supply alike. Depop’s wide ranging market helps connect buyers and sellers across the country, and contributes to the idea of a circular economy where nothing is created nor destroyed. Savvy bargain hunters scoop up reasonably priced clothes- often vintage, and sometimes designer. Whilst thrifty sellers get creative with hashtags, descriptions and flattering imagery to help sell their ‘pre-loved’ garments.
From my own personal experience of Depop, people have fun with it and enjoy the process of up-selling through flattering angles and interesting backdrops. Whilst thrifty sellers are keen to make cash, it’s not just about the money: Teen Vogue report they take a strong stance on environmental issues and rising above fast fashion is something Depop users understand and prioritise.
Rent the runway is the largest fashion rental company and pre-pandemic, it was the highest valued by Forbes ‘at a cool $1 billion’. The business model operates using subscription plans varying from renting four items a month at $69, to unlimited rentals at $159 a month.
There are a myriad of ways that customers can revitalise their efforts to shop sustainably: readjusting our relationship with fabrics is one of them
Permitting customers continue to pay the subscription, there are no obligatory returns dates for the garments meaning that customers can wear them once or multiple times; unlike fast fashion were typically garments are only worn a few times before their disposal. This gives the customer freedom to experiment and feel emancipated in their shopping purchases, a liberty that all fashion-conscious consumers should be able to enjoy.
There are a myriad of ways that customers can revitalise their efforts to shop sustainably: readjusting our relationship with fabrics is one of them. Modern Meadow, a biotechnology company that aims to ‘build a new world of materials’. Through harnessing the power of chemistry, the company have procured collagen through programming the DNA Of yeast to create leather look-alike material. Modern Meadow’s convincing leather alternative could substantially help curb the fashion industry’s carbon footprint, which currently stands at 10% of global carbon emissions , according to The World Bank. A statistic more than all international flights and maritime shipping emissions combined.
By targeting some of the most baneful and prolific processes in fashion such as cattle ranching and the acceleration of methane release; the fashion industry can gradually make the transition to sustainable sourcing and rearrange the short- term profit outlook in exchange for ‘long-term concerns, such as the resilience of nature’s bounty’ (Thomas, 2019: 172). Limiting couture’s reliance on leather and re-examining fabrics used, could offer a strong start in rebuilding a sustainable fashion industry.