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Shift to long-lasting clothes

Greta’s green pleas turn shoppers against fast fashion

Multrees Walk, shop, retail, Edinburgh

Multrees Walk, Edinburgh’s high fashion quarter (pic: Terry Murden)

Consumers are falling out of love with so-called ‘fast fashion’ and now prefer to buy longer lasting quality items, according to new research.

The number of sustainable shoppers in Britain has jumped by a third in the past 12 months as environmental campaigners such as Greta Thunberg have helped change the public mood. 

As a result, there has been a huge shift in Brits’ shopping habits, with millions more choosing quality over quantity. The research from Fashion Retail Academy shows that more than half of Brits (51.4%) are choosing long-lasting clothes over cheaper fashionable items, up 33.8% on a year ago.

The proportion of shoppers who consciously opt for fast fashion — typically cheaper, more fashionable items — has fallen 46.2% in the same period to a meagre 14% of consumers. 

Brits are now less likely to throw away their clothes than they were last year, with almost three quarters (71.3%) of consumers choosing to recycle compared to 59.7% last year — a 19.4% increase.

Shoppers are just as inclined to buy second-hand clothes rather than buying new, with over two thirds (66%) of the UK rifling through rails in charity shops or browsing second-hand clothes apps online. 

Women are leading this sustainable clothing revolution as 25.4% more women wear second-hand clothes than men and 31.4% more women recycle their clothes.

See also: Handbags now the top collectables investment

The Welsh are the best at recycling their clothes (74%) and the Northern Irish are the biggest culprits for throwing away unwanted clothes, as only 60% recycle. Over 55’s are better at recycling their clothes than younger generations (75.7% againsg 64.5%).

Lee Lucas, principal of the Fashion Retail Academy, said: “The focus on sustainability has finally been embraced by consumers in a big way and we’ve witnessed a big shift in shopping habits over the past year.

New waves of consumers are willing to invest in higher quality items

– Lee Lucas, Fashion Retail Academy

“Shoppers are moving away from fast fashion and there are new waves of consumers who are willing to invest in higher quality items, acknowledging that more expensive price tags might mean more mileage from certain items of clothing.  

“This shift towards quality over quantity, recycling and buying second-hand is not just about saving money, it is a reflection of how customers are increasingly mindful of fashion waste and the supply chain.

“Vintage clothing is in and sustainable clothing brands such as Patagonia, which offer a lifetime guarantee on their clothes have become more and more popular.”

John Lewis backs ‘hand me downs’

John Lewis has introduced labelling into its childrenswear to encourage a culture of handing down clothing, which children have outgrown.

The retailer is introducing a new “Wear it, Love it, Hand it down” message on the labels attached to its own brand babywear and childrenswear clothing, which covers around 700 garments.

It’s estimated that childrenswear represents a disproportionate amount of the thousands of tonnes of clothing in landfill because children need more new clothing than adults as they grow.

Recycling specialists WRAP estimate that extending the average life of clothes by just three months of active use per item would lead to a 5-10% reduction in each of the carbon, water and waste footprints, and cut resource costs by £2bn.

See also

Handbags now the top collectables investment



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