Sustainable Clothing Initiatives at London Fashion Week

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Sustainability is the new “it” accessory at London Fashion Week. A new action plan to make fashion more sustainable and less environmentally damaging was recently launched at the start of biggest fashion event in the city.

The Sustainable Clothing Roadmap brought together over 300 organizations, “from high street retailers, to designers and textile manufacturers to battle the environmental impacts of ‘throw away fashion’.” The organizations involved hope to make a significant difference in “the environmental footprint and social inequalities which blight some of the production and retail processes of consumer fashion,” according to a release by the United Kingdom’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

Defra estimates that, annually, the clothing and textiles sector in the UK alone produces around:

  • 3.1 million tons of CO2
  • Two million tons of waste
  • 70 million tons of wastewater
  • 1.5 million tons of unwanted clothing being landfilled
The Estethica show was one of the many sustainable collections shown at London Fashion Week. Photo: Ecometro.com

Estethica was one of the many sustainable collections shown at London Fashion Week. Photo: Ecometro.com

“This action plan represents a concerted effort from the fashion industry, including top names in the high street and manufacturers to change the face of fashion,” said Minister for Sustainability Lord Philip Hunt. “Retailers have a big role to play in ensuring fashion is sustainable. We should all be able to walk into a shop and feel that the clothes we buy have been produced without damaging the environment or using poor labor practices, and that we will be able to reuse and recycle them when we no longer want them.”

Those participating in the program will focus on:

  1. Improving environmental performance across the supply chain, including sustainable design; fibers and fabrics; maximizing reuse and recycling and end-of-life management
  2. Awareness, media, education and networks for the sustainability of clothes
  3. Promoting markets for sustainable clothing
  4. Improving traceability along the supply chain

Major retailers in the UK will be participating in the program, including:

  • Marks and Spencer, Tesco and Sainsbury – Will increase their ranges of fair trade and organic products and the take-back and recovery of unwanted clothing and supporting fibers and fabrics that enable clothing recycling
  • Nike – Will apply their Considered Design ethos to improving the sustainability performance and innovation of all their product ranges
  • Association of Charity Shops, Oxfam, Salvation Army Trading and Textile Recycling Association – Will increase consumer awareness about the environmental benefits of clothing reuse as well as increase clothing recovery infrastructure in the UK. They will open more “sustainable clothing” boutiques of high quality, second-hand clothing and new sustainably designed garments.
  • Fair Trade Foundation UK – Will increase the volume of fair trade cotton products to be in at least 10 percent of cotton clothing in the UK by 2012
  • Centre for Sustainable Fashion at the London College of Fashion – Will establish this center to provide practical business supports to the clothing sector on sustainability and fashion
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