One in three young women in Britain consider a garment worn once or twice to be old
Fast fashion – the rapid system of trend-driven, low-cost clothing manufacture beloved by UK consumers – is on the rampage. We crossed a worrying line in 2014, scaling up garment production to 100bn pieces of new clothing a year. These are clothes, made from virgin resources, increasingly plastic, pushed out into the world with little thought as to where they will end up. Without rapid reform, the fashion industry – of which fast fashion is the dominant player – could be responsible for a quarter of the Earth’s carbon budget by 2050. This threat to the planet has, not surprisingly, attracted the attention of climate protesters. Extinction Rebellion picketed London fashion week for the first time in February.
The UK’s contribution is enormous. Not only did we invent fast fashion, but our fashion consumers are among the most voracious in the world. One in three young women, the biggest segment of consumers, consider garments worn once or twice to be old. UK consumers sent 300,000 tonnes of textiles to be burned or dumped in landfill in 2018.