A sustainable answer to this question posed by Mark Shayler at The Great Recovery (the RSA Circular Economy), with concentration on business pressures.
The key thing centres on sustainable fashion (clothes that people want to wear); this is not an oxymoron – but rather fashion that is made from sustainable sources (otherwise it won’t sell in the first place)
Clothing is mainly made on the Pacific Rim. I have NO problem with this as it has brought both a middle class & progress to places like China (H&S, environmental concerns, minimum wage, etc.) – especially as there has been a resistance of labour to do the work here.
Greyfoxblog & Best of Britannia have become a reference to what is still made here: it is mainly classic & menswear as those are the two categories where consumers want quality over price-point. Shipping by sea from the East has minimum carbon footprint (How Bad are Bananas).
Although the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Dakar was tragic, I feel that Bangladesh’s path to acceptable standards will now be accelerated
As long as there is the demand for cheap clothing, cheaper overseas manufacturing will exist. We have all been through that stage in our life; hopefully we now want to rely on classics than consumerism.
What we should be doing is wearing our wardrobe for a full first life, by repairing it, or reassigning its use. The artisan trend has returned as people want to look different from the mass produced, so demands for clothing reassignment (or re-imagination) have come; there is a popular feeling of regaining kinaesthetic skills to bring greater satisfaction to life.
On top of this charity shops are one of the few positives to stop High Streets becoming cemeteries to the Retail Parks. The Fast Fashion trend has prompted greater donation to these causes (easier, through cheaper value from the donator, but still a good selling price) and hence prompted a younger audience to patronise them (remanufacture is the biggest footprint)
The key thing is NEVER to landfill clothing; even worn out fabric given to charity is sold on for profit and reuse (even as building insulation or car soundproofing)
Personally I buy on outdoor values: durability and classic colouring that will last a decade.
This blog is part of the Institute of Social Marketing online sustainable clothing event