MPs have released their interim report on ‘Sustainability of the Fashion Industry' and far from being a perfect fit, it seems that sustainability is an uncomfortable issue for many retailers.
Of the 16 retailers asked to engage in the investigation, ASOS, Burberry, M&S, Primark and Tesco have clearly ‘cottoned on’ to the importance of the issue and were identified as being the ‘most engaged’ with the issue of sustainability; all have plans to increase their use of sustainably sourced materials and back sustainable cotton initiatives.
However, the report highlighted that for some there seems to be a woeful misunderstanding of the issues; in response to a question about the use of recycled fabrics, online retailer, Missguided, (by name and also by nature)stated that it didn’t really apply to them because they don’t make many fleece products, apparently unfamiliar with the many other recycled fabric options available.
When asked about the issue of microplastics (the miniscule particles of plastic shed into the water system when synthetic clothes are washed) JD Sports responded with information about its recycling practices, missing the mark entirely.
With 2019 shaping up to be the year where reducing excessive waste (particularly plastic) is in vogue, it is perhaps surprising that retailers are not reacting quickly to the new trends and consumer conscience.
The investigation looked at both the environmental and social impact of the clothes and shoes sold by the UK’s biggest fashion retailers and the overall message was clear; “The fashion industry’s current business model is clearly unsustainable… We are disappointed that few high street and online fashion retailers are taking significant steps to improve their sustainability.”
With the full report due to be released in the coming weeks, it is time for retailers to take stock and re-think their approach to sustainability.
The current exploitative and environmentally damaging model for fashion must change.