Sustainability in fashion - why and how?
We’re focusing on fashion, clothing and textiles. Why? A recent report from waste reduction charity WRAP shows a 10% increase in the amount of clothing that is getting thrown away. In just two years an extra 36,000 tonnes of clothing ended up in our black bins!
Public awareness of the perils of fast fashion on the environment is at an all time high and yet this isn’t translating into the kind of changes we need. The reasons for this will be varied and complex but the rise of consumerist fast fashion certainly plays a big role.
The lure of cheap clothing made at high volumes has been enticing us for years. Unfortunately this equates to poorly made clothes, questionable labour, waste and pollution. We also don’t value this type of clothing in the same way which means we’re more likely to throw it away, rather than recycle, repair or offer it for reuse.
The WRAP report - part of their Sustainable Clothing Action Plan - reveals some alarming statistics about how the clothing landscape has changed over the years, particularly on the rise of cheaply produced clothes. According to WRAP, clothing prices fell by 58% between 1988 and 2010 which is in stark contrast to overall consumer prices which rose by 64% over the same period. It's perhaps not surprising that as a nation, it's clothing we chose to indulge in. In 2018 UK households spent a staggering £60.5bn on clothes.
Many of us want to make more sustainable clothing choices but don’t know where to start. We’ve launched Leeds Fashion Futures to explore how as a city we can do that.
This has been such an exciting project to work on with the RSA. Our three themes of Heritage, Valuing Your clothes and Skills & Resources have given us a real insight into what fashion means to people across Leeds.
As part of this project we've created Leeds Fashion Map, which includes zero waste fashion options including charity shops, textile banks, alterations and repairs, clothes exchanges, sewing workshops and sustainable fashion designers. We’re also adding local haberdashers and sewing machine sales, maintenance and repair shops.
We've also launched The Leeds Textile Trail - a journey through some of the people, places and events that make Leeds stand out in the world of clothing and textiles.