UCLAN graduate and Preston-based slow fashion designer, Eleanor Bradley, is backing a campaign to shop only second hand for 30 days after new research has revealed that the region is yet to commit to sustainable fashion.
The survey into people’s sustainable shopping habits, conducted on behalf of Eleanor’s fashion brand, Wild Strings, discovered that more than half of consumers in the region (53 per cent) are yet to make an eco-friendly fashion purchase in 2020 and one in ten claim sustainability is not a factor they consider when buying new clothing, according to the findings.
The findings also suggest that shoppers are turning to fast fashion brands in a bid to make their wardrobes more sustainable amidst widespread confusion about how to make eco-conscious fashion choices.
Despite ongoing claims of ‘greenwashing’, fast fashion retailer H&M was rated the most sustainable clothing brand on the high street, followed by Marks and Spencer and The White Company.
In recent months, global fast fashion chains such as H&M have been held to account on their sustainability claims. Many slow fashion campaigners have highlighted that fast fashion can never be sustainable due to the sheer volume of clothing produced which is creating irreversible harm to the planet and outweighing any publicised environmental credentials.
Perhaps unsurprisingly the region’s shoppers admit confusion when it comes to making eco-conscious fashion choices. A quarter (25 per cent) claim that it is difficult to find out about clothing brands’ sustainability credentials and a further 60 per cent agree that it is something you have to specifically go out of your way to find – with information often hidden on a retailer’s website.
To encourage people to think more sustainably, Eleanor, whose clothing line is made from second-hand and responsibly sourced materials, is backing Second Hand September, an initiative launched by Oxfam to cut back on throwaway fashion.
The campaign is asking shoppers to buy only second-hand during September, highlighting the impact that the fashion industry is having on the environment and how fast fashion is adding to landfill, with 13 million items being thrown away every week.
Eleanor Bradley, founder and creative director of slow fashion brand Wild Strings, said: “Second Hand September is a great initiative and a great place to start for anyone looking to take a more sustainable approach to their wardrobe. By not spending money on new items this month and taking the time to seek out second-hand pieces, many people will view their wardrobes with a new pair of eyes.
“It is clear from the research that there is a lot of confusion around how to make more sustainable fashion choices – especially with so many fast fashion brands seemingly placing sustainability high on their agenda. These bold claims and big budget marketing campaigns certainly seem to be grabbing the public’s attention, but the issue really is about the sheer volume of clothing that these brands are producing, not to mention the low price point that they are selling for which makes them seem even more disposable.
“Taking a sustainable approach to fashion is about more than buying from a brand that is using all of the right key words and terminology, it is about completely evaluating how you consume fashion. From paying more attention to the material that is being used, where the products are produced and if workers are being paid a fair wage, to reducing the amount of clothing that you buy – choosing high quality items that will last for years to come, repairing and recycling clothes and not being led by ‘seasons’.”
Although there is more people can do to make eco-conscious purchasing decisions, the results do suggest that in 2020 there has been a shift towards supporting independent retail. Forty four per cent of those questioned claim they shop for clothes equally both on the high street and from independent retailers. Whilst one in ten are now shopping exclusively with indy brands. Over half (56 per cent) would like to make their wardrobe a lot more sustainable in 2021, by shopping independently (45 per cent), buying less fast fashion (43 per cent) and shopping for second hand or vintage pieces (40 per cent).
Eleanor Bradley continued: “Having worked in the fast fashion industry I have seen for myself the disruptive impact these brands are having on the environment and the frantic consumerism that they are creating. I created Wild Strings to offer people an alternative which has creativity and sustainability at it’s heart, resulting in a more positive impact on the environment. All of my designs are produced using second-hand materials and recycled fabrics. In complete contrast to the next day delivery culture we have come to expect, they are all also handmade to order meaning that each piece is crafted individually.
“Whilst there is still a long way to go to educate people that fashion can be done differently, it is great to see the emerging support for independent clothing brands showing that people are starting to make some positive change.”