Fashion Victims?

October 8, 2012
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A ‘free’ red football kit

Jago has started going to football training for toddlers.  We definitely don’t have a budding Ronaldo on our hands.  His main ball skill seems to be ‘why not just throw it in the goal’ so much easier than this kicking malarkey.

 

 

As part of the joining package we got sent a smart red football kit through the post which has to be stored in ever-bulging draws already stuffed full of his clothes.  In this aspect Jago is not alone.  UK consumers have around £30bn worth of clothes which they haven’t worn for a year hanging in their wardrobes.  This astonishing number shows how completely the UK has fallen in love with the lure of cheap, ever-changing fashion.

 

The real cost of clothes

I suspect that during Jago’s lifetime this will change dramatically.  Scientists are already starting to sound alarm bells around the availability of water.  Growing the cotton and other fabrics that fleetingly get worn before forlornly sitting unused in our wardrobes is sucking water from countries that increasingly need it to sustain their people.

Our love of cheap clothing also has a human cost.  Unscrupulous suppliers will exploit people desperate for work.  The tragic consequences were seen recently at a factory fire in a garment factory in Karachi, Pakistan which killed over 289 people.  I am not sure from where Jago’s football kit was sourced but I am fairly certain that ethics were not high on the buying criteria.

 

The changing face of fashion

With growing environmental pressures and a realization that working conditions have to change costs of clothing will increase and this is likely to profoundly change the way we buy and look after clothes.

For starters there is likely to be a growing trend for make-do and mend.  Increasing the active use of clothing by just a few months could lead to significant environmental and cost savings.   Vintage clothing is increasingly seen as a fashion statement and this is a trend that will continue.

People are likely to think more carefully about the way they get rid of clothes.  Currently a third of them end up in holes in the ground which is bad for the environment and bad value.  If these clothes were given to charities, local authorities or other organizations for recycling or reuse revenue of £140 million could be generated providing a much needed boost to our flagging economy.

One example of this already happening is swishing events http://swishing.com/ which are being set up all over the country.  My charity, Global Action Plan http://www.globalactionplan.org.uk/  regularly holds these events with sharp elbowed bargain hunters descending on the office looking for a great ethical deal.

Finally people are likely to buy far higher quality clothes such as those sold by JoJo Maman Bebe.  Increasingly people will be looking for well-made clothing that will not disintegrate after a few wears and which they know have been sourced ethically.

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