Tuesday 19th February marked an important day for sustainable fashion as the UK Environmental Audit Committee published its report entitled, Fixing Fashion: Clothing Consumption and Sustainability. At Riley Studio we put sustainability at the core of every decision we make, so we warmly welcome this report as it sheds light upon the negative environmental impacts the current fashion industry is having.
We strongly agree with their conclusion that the global fashion industry is exploitative and environmentally damaging and that brands, big and small, have an obligation to take responsibility for and address the current business models that encourage our ‘throw-away society’. You can hear our CEO, Olivia Dowie, discuss the topic on BBC World Service here, at 46 minutes in!
Whilst we believe that the ‘penny tax’ would be a positive step in the right direction, we also believe that the planet is at a tipping point and if we truly want to fix this problem, we need a more drastic and widespread solution. Starting at the beginning of the design process, fashion companies need to design out waste, source responsibly and slow down the rate of production, ensuring the products they make will last a long time and then can be easily recycled at the end of their lifecycle. Companies should be taxed for using higher energy consumption, those using recycled garments should be offered a reduction in tax. Furthermore, the government’s proposed tax on virgin plastic in 2022 should apply to textile waste, encouraging a move from conventional cotton to organic, and from virgin polyester to recycled PET. Putting a tax on garments using less than 50% recycled PET would hopefully stimulate the market for recycled fibres, away from virgin and synthetics.
Whilst recycling, repurposing and reusing clothing is crucial, we agree with the report’s findings that we need to urgently address the issue of over-consumption and over-production. Consumers need to be educated about the environmental and social impact ‘fast fashion’ is having. We must start making businesses accountable for the whole supply chain, rather than just the end product. Transparency and traceability are key to achieving this.
Companies must be encouraged to demonstrate they can follow their supply chain back to the raw materials, and pinpoint who made their clothes, and in what conditions. If we all take responsibility for this, we can encourage a change in behaviours, and move away from the ‘fast fashion’ mentality.
Paris is looking to become the sustainable fashion capital by 2024. We believe London can do better. We are excited by this landmark report and hope that it will bring about further legislation whilst putting a greater spotlight on creating a more sustainable industry for the future.