Fast fashion is seen by many as the fundamental cause of most of the sustainability issues the textile industry faces. And so it has been suggested by numerous commentators, academics and NGOs that ethical consumption can and will lead to a shift in behaviour. Over time, it is thought that slow fashion may become the norm, with consumers wearing classically styled garments that last for years instead of months or weeks.

For now, intense appetite for fashion means people are buying more and more clothes. Since 2012, there has been a 10 percent increase in the amount of clothing purchased in the UK alone. And not only are consumers buying more; the rate at which their clothing gets discarded is becoming increasingly quicker as they chase the latest fashion trends. It is estimated there is over $35 billion of clothing sitting in wardrobes across the UK that has not been worn for over 12 months.

This statistic is grim, but there are growing number of initiatives that demands a change.  People all over the world have started demanding more consciousness of fashion. Since the 2013 Rana Plaza garment factory collapse that killed 1,134 people, Fashion Revolution has us asking #WhoMadeMyClothes? Greta Thunberg has brought our attention to the urgency of climate change, the fragility of our natural resources and the dangers of complacency – demanding action from the world’s political and business leaders. In support of this wave of activism, author Naomi Klein said, “A fresh generation are marching for revolution and they want to wear clothes that tell a new story. Let’s give it to them.”

A big step forward was on July 2018, when 10 UN organizations agreed to create the UN Alliance on Sustainable Fashion, saying they were “committed to changing the path of fashion.” The alliance launched formally in March of 2019. With the fashion industry facing pressure from the UN to meet its Sustainable Development Goals, interest in limiting the negative effects of fashion appears to be one trend that will not be going away any time soon.

‘No blood, no sweat, no tears’: a campaigner at Fashion Week Berlin. Image: Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images for Greenshowroom

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