When it comes to fast fashion and shopping sustainably, as consumers we are more switched on than ever before. According to a recent industry report, 50% of Brits prefer to buy from retailers who are trying to reduce their impact on the environment. So, how can we be sure of what we are buying and where it has come from? And what is the fashion industry doing to help?
Renowned fashion journalist and author Tamsin Blanchard and Cara Smyth of the Fair Fashion Centre came together to discuss the state of the global garment industry and shared their top tips for becoming more responsible consumers.
Tip1: Learn about the products you’re buying
“With fashion, you’re buying blind. You just don’t know what it is and where it’s come from.” Tamsin admits that the fashion industry has a bit of a reputation for being opaque when it comes to revealing where clothes are made.
But, educating ourselves is the first step that needs to be taken in order to bring about change, so consumers shouldn’t be afraid of what they’ll find in their research. “Sometimes you’re almost afraid to lift the lid on the fashion supply chain, but I think that we are interested in it.”
Knowing which fabrics are better or worse for the planet is a great first step towards building a more conscious wardrobe. To help you out, we’ve created a handy guide outlining the benefits and environmental costs for a range of sustainable materials.
Tip 2: Challenge brands and suppliers
“There’s a hashtag at Fashion Revolution – #WhoMadeMyClothes. It’s a very simple ask but actually, brands are increasingly trying to find out who made your clothes.” Another easy tip towards becoming a more sustainable shopper is to get on social media and ask brands directly: “Who made my clothes?” Tamsin is a personal advocate of this and actively asks her favourite brands about their supply chains, production processes, and product afterlife.
“More and more consumers are saying ‘I’m interested in where my clothes are coming from’.” And it’s clear that brands are listening – Nike recently signed the UN’s Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action, and this is just one of many actions brands are taking to support a more sustainable fashion industry.
Tip 3: Push for greater transparency in the industry
As consumers, it’s understandable that we might not know where our clothes come from, but the real surprise is that many brands don’t know either. The supply chain has become so fragmented that many retailers don’t actually know how their fabrics are made – and now they’re facing some tough questions from customers and shareholders alike.
“[Fashion brands] need to start opening up and sharing what is going on, because if they don’t know what is happening in their supply chains, they can’t fix it.” Open and honest communication is the way forward if the fashion industry is to become more sustainable, and Tamsin and Cara emphasise that it is up to us to drive that conversation forward.
Join the conversation and listen to the full episode here, or search for ‘Sunday School by Harvey Nichols’ on your preferred streaming platform.