Environmental platform Hubbub published a report in September 2020 on behalf of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Ethics and Sustainability in Fashion.
Titled "Making the UK a global leader in sustainable fashion," the document highlights a more sustainable route and the role that government and consumers could play in rebuilding the fashion industry after COVID-19.
Hubbub wants to get everyone on board to create positive environmental change at the scale and speed needed. It designs campaigns that inspire ways of living that are good for the environment.
The platform is passionate about offering practical and realistic solutions to make clothes last longer, save money, and create cleaner spaces to live and work.
Sustainability was already gaining popularity before COVID-19 among consumers and key players in the clothing industry. Unfortunately, since the beginning of the crisis, sales have decreased in the worldwide fashion and luxury industry.
The COVID-19 crisis has hit many industries very hard, including fashion. Due to the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, the global textile and apparel industry is sinking.
Large brands and retailers worldwide have canceled orders and closed stores down. Some of them even refused to pay for already produced clothing.
The most promising change after the pandemic is the growing importance of local, fair, ethical, and sustainable apparel production. Fashion doesn't have the luxury to ignore these issues anymore and must implement sustainability practices.
The lockdown gave consumers time to rethink how they spend their money and plan for the long term. They now expect more eco-friendliness in apparel, footwear, and textile.
The April 2020 report titled "Weaving a Better Future: Rebuilding a More Sustainable Fashion Industry After COVID-19" jointly published by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC), and Higg Co confirms this trend:
"A global health crisis will increase overall consumer demand for products closely associated with trust, well-being, and the collective good – particularly in categories such as food and nutrition, but also in beauty and fashion, which are considered close to the body."
To build trust with customers, suppliers, and partners, fashion brands and retailers must remain optimistic, provide value, and take massive action for the integration of more ecological, social, and economic sustainability solutions.
The report published by Hubbub for the APPG for Ethics and Sustainability in Fashion reveals that the environmental and social impact of the industry was increasingly under public scrutiny.
A survey carried out with members of the public showcases responses of UK residents, with 65% agreeing that the UK Government needs to act urgently to reduce the environmental impact of the fashion industry.
The study complements the 2019 Environment Audit Committee (EAC) report called "Fixing Fashion: clothing consumption and sustainability."
However, the UK government previously rejected these proposals and policies, including producer responsibility fees on each item of clothing to fund better textile waste collection, as it already addressed most of them in its Resources and Waste Strategy.
The new APPG report from Hubbub calls for the government to:
- Invest in research and development to create more sustainable fabrics that have a lower environmental and social impact - backed by 66% of the public.
- Boost investment in UK fabric recycling facilities to create a more circular economy - backed by 73% of the public.
- Support new start-up businesses operating more green business models - backed by 74% of the public.
- Invest in skills to bring more clothes manufacturing jobs back to the UK - backed by 72% of the public.
- Support industry to create clearer information and labeling about the sustainability of clothes helping to educate consumers about their everyday choices and force companies to change their approach - backed by 64% of the public.
Here is what Catherine West, Member of Parliament (MP) and chair of the APPG, and Trewin Restorick, Founder and CEO of Hubbub, said in a statement after launching the report:
“Now is the time for government intervention to fix fast fashion and force companies to change their approach. We hope both the government and the fashion industry will act with urgency on the recommendations of the APPG, which are backed by the UK public. As we’ve set out in our Greenprint, a more just and sustainable approach to how we dress, live, eat, and travel is needed as we ‘build back better’, which builds greater long-term resilience. All of us need to play our part by making individual small changes and choosing where we spend our money.”
- Trewin Restorick, Hubbub Founder, and Chief Executive Officer
"Coronavirus has exposed deep inequalities and unsustainability in the garment industry. Creating a sustainable and ethical future for the fashion industry is an important but complex challenge for the government, industry, and the public, and what is clear is that there is an appetite for this on all sides. We must seize this moment and put these recommendations into action by pushing the government to be a global leader, helping to build a more sustainable and ethical fashion industry, both within the UK and globally."
- Catherine West, Member of Parliament (MP), and chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG)
The APPG for Ethics and Sustainability in Fashion was reformed in February 2020 by Catherine West (MP) and Margaret Omolola Young, Baroness Young of Hornsey, Order of the British Empire (OBE).
Consultancy Fashion Roundtable acts as the Secretariat to the group, with kind support from Hubbub and Anthesis, a global sustainability consultancy with more than 500 sustainability consultants.
Sustainability is a crucial factor in the mind of young consumers when it comes to buying clothes. Price, style, and accessibility are still significant for most consumers.
But nowadays, many of them want to buy from companies that support causes they believe in, such as solving environmental and social issues.
Consumers, especially among Millennials and Gen Zs, expect that fashion brands and retailers keep their ethical commitments during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.
The APPG report highlights that survey results with three-quarters of respondents agreeing that clothing companies have a responsibility to look after the people who make their products.
And 52% of people surveyed are willing to spend more on clothes ethically made in the UK that supports British workers.
65% of people are also happy for fashion to slow down, an industry where consumers, brands, retailers, and manufacturers take greater responsibility to do right by people and the environment.
The rise of fast fashion over the last 20 years is responsible for the massive growth of the fashion industry but also disastrous social and environmental impacts.
We are on the verge of a global environmental, social, and economic crisis. It's crucial, now more than ever, to rethink the way we produce and consume clothes.
I hope for a better textile and apparel industry in the coming years, a fashion world that moves away from mindless consumerism and protects the environment, where all humans and animals are cared for.
Read the full September 2020 report produced by Hubbub on behalf of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Ethics and Sustainability in Fashion at issuu.com.
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About the Author: Alex Assoune
Alex Assoune (MS) is a global health and environmental advocate. He founded Panaprium to inspire others with conscious living, ethical, and sustainable fashion. Alex has worked in many countries to address social and environmental issues. He speaks three languages and holds two Master of Science degrees in Engineering from SIGMA and IFPEN schools.