Is it just me, or does it feel like sustainable fashion has hit the big time? Whatever the case, it’s certainly here to stay. In fact, I sorely hope it’s to become the only type of fashion available, if we’re to meet the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and reduce global temperatures from rising to over 1.5°C by 2030.
1. Sustainable Materials Will Edge Out Harmful Alternatives
The first major change I’ve recognised this year has been a big emphasis on sustainable materials. It’s potentially because they’re one of the easiest way big brands can clean up their supply chains – switching to regenerated, recycled, and organic fabrics is often just a case of switching supplier.
However, while organic cotton became popular over a decade ago, it’s only now that I’m seeing high-street brands and haute couture adopting sustainable materials across their collections. Notable examples include Monsoon’s switch to 50% sustainable fabrics for their SS20 collection, the launch of Net-A-Porter’s Net Sustain collection, and Stella McCartney’s innovative bio-based faux fur, pushing boundaries of the industry further.
That said, not all couture is sustainable just yet. There is, however, a considerable effort being made to ditch fur, adopt regenerated materials such as ECONYL and recycled denim, and support innovations such as plant-based leather.
2. Vintage Will Increase Its Value
At the end of February, I attended an event held by London Waste & Recycling Board (LWARB) all about circular fashion. One of the big data pieces they shared on the night was the huge increase in second-hand shopping taking place in both the U.K. and the U.S.
While vintage fashion has remained a steady sustainable option, 2020 appears to bring a new wave of new shoppers who are shaking off the stigma around pre-loved pieces, and bringing new demand to vintage and second-hand items.
When working with Open For Vintage, I also noted an uptick in vintage sales generally – so while it-bags and other classic pieces already hold their value, it’s likely they may even be worth more, along with the rest of the vintage fashion sector!
My picks on Open For Vintage
3. The Way We Engage With Fashion Is Changing
Alongside this shift from high-street to vintage, many people are enjoying fashion in new ways, such as through fashion rental platforms and clothes swaps.
While it may be customary for a gentleman to rent his suit, women have often been left with luxury, one-wear items in their wardrobes. That’s changing, with fashion rental sites like Hurr Collective, Rent The Runway, and My Wardrobe HQ all gaining traction, and even hosting department-store pop-ups (Hurr Collective is currently at Selfridges, while My Wardrobe HQ is at Liberty London).
And for clothes swaps, look no further than the work of Global Fashion Exchange (GFX). As a Co-Founder of The Haulternative Closet, a bi-annual luxury fashion clothes-swap happening across London and supported by GFX, I can attest to this new spirit to share clothes, give pieces a new life, and find joy in mixing up styles!
4. Transparent Brands Will Beat The Rest
And finally, let’s talk about how brands talk. I think a lot of the fresher, new brands on the scene communicate in a completely different way to the old guard. They’re open about their practices, who they work with, and why they’re making a change.
And let’s be honest: no-one likes to be lied to. In traditional fashion advertising, models are airbrushed, bull-clips keep clothes looking perfectly fitted, and diversity is still sought-after. We inherently don’t trust it, and nor should we. When we look a little deeper, and discover atrocities like the Rana Plaza collapse in 2013, many shoppers feel appalled to find out their clothes had been made by people working in unsafe, forced labour conditions, and had lost their lives because of it.
So now really is the time for the Fashion Revolution, and a collective shift to demanding transparency from brands. My prediction: the businesses who are transparent about their people, their materials, their processes, and their attitude towards the climate crisis will beat out the rest.
There’s no more time for the archaic attitude of protecting ‘trade secrets’ and prioritising profit ‘above all else’ which got the fashion industry – among others – into this mess in the first place. Let’s support the new voices, the second-hand sites, and style ourselves more sustainably.