As general awareness for sustainability grows, the fashion industry is starting to wake up to the fact that consumers attitudes have changed. Many prefer paying a bit more for eco-friendly clothing, and the reselling of previously worn clothing has reached a peak of popularity. In fact, this might be the industry’s most potent chance to keep its sustainable promises.
Customers increasingly feel the need to make a positive impact on the environment, prioritizing sustainability in their wardrobe as well. With the fashion industry being responsible for around 20% of worldwide water pollution and 10% of the world’s carbon emissions – which is more than international flights and ocean transport combined – it is no surprise that a movement against mass-produced fast fashion has arisen. According to United Nation’s research, if we’d continue on this path, the fashion industry would be responsible for more than 25% of the world’s carbon footprint by 2050. Clearly, things need to change.
In this context, major fashion conglomerates have started to set goals regarding sustainability, attempting to maintain their popularity. However, these projections are often still too distant and unrealistic to be considered actual by consumers. As long as the environmental issues are inherent in the industry’s manufacturing processes, which often have governmental and pressure group support, consumers rather take matters in their own hands.
One of the main ways this shift in consumer preference takes shape, is in the rise of second-hand fashion. Platforms like Vinted have made their introduction, retailers like Zalando and Nordstrom have started to embrace reselling and policy makers are getting on board with circular economies. According to ThredUp’s 2021 Resale Report, the secondhand clothing market will double in the coming 5 years, predicting it to be twice the size of fast fashion by 2030. With both millennials as well as boomers becoming more involved in the buying of selling of used clothes, the thrill of thrifting seems to transcend both age and income. Interestingly, the vintage trend is not limited to resale. With consumers becoming more open to temporary ownership, the rental of (mostly luxury) clothing is expected to increase drastically as well.
Needless to say, these trends are promising. For those who care about sustainability but even more for those who’ve started an enterprise in the sustainable fashion industry, working to disrupt the settled fast fashion industry. Some of our local favorites:
- Amsterdam-based sneaker label ‘GumDrop’ has found a way to turn chewing gum, world’s second most common form of litter (after cig butts), into a new kind of rubber, Gum-tec. This is then used to make sneakers, in collaboration with fashion brand XPLCT. With 1,5 million kilos of gum litter ending up on Amsterdam’s streets every year, and 1 kg of gum being good for 4 pairs of sneakers, GumDrop’s source for rubber probably won’t be exhausted anytime soon (sadly).
- Rather than selling its sustainable jeans, ‘MUD Jeans‘ allows customers to loan them for a fixed period, after which you can decide to keep or to return them. Jeans that get sent back are made into one of their vintage models, leaving no waste and using 92% less water than a regular pair of jeans.
- Sjaak Hullekes’ fashion label ‘Hul Le Kes’ hand-makes clothing solely out of deadstock and discarded materials, giving each piece a story of their own. “We need to see the value of age”, Hullekes states. “There is actually a story behind each stain or tear. To encourage this re-appreciation, each garment comes with a passport telling you who made it, when it was made, its product key, information on the fabrics and offers room to write about stains or during which (special) events it was worn.” Hul Le Kes also offers dye-services, giving your favorite shirt, dress or even tablecloth a Hul Le Kes make-over.
- After years of biking through the rain, two friends from Amsterdam launched the brand ‘MAIUM’, which uses recycled plastic bottles to create rain clothing that is not only sustainable, but also stylish and multi-functional.