Devil wears second-hand

With the worlds climate slowly rising, we’re looking for ways to better our planet. That includes our fashion

In 2017 the UK’s fashion economy was worth £32 billion. Looking back through our history books it seems that London wasn’t the only fashion capital of England, Leeds in fact homes some of the biggest fashion brands that we still recognise today on the high street.

Fast fashion however is now taking over our lives as the internet strives to mass produce trends that are found on our runways to get our clothes to our front door as quickly as possible.

However as this trend begins to rise we are seriously hurting our environment in the process of making and distributing these clothes.

In its bid to keep the high street alive we are beginning to see that where big brands are struggling, independent boutiques and charity shops are flourishing due to sustainability and ethical reasons. Leeds based brands such as ZaraMia Ava and Ksenia Schnaider, have taken up this approach and begun to use ethically sourced material to produce and sell their garments.

Leeds high street is forever changing with new avenues of sustainable fashion available

Esther Pugh, a fashion marketing lecturer at Leeds Beckett University, explained that, “fashion is no longer considered just a necessity, it is now something that we want to excel at. There are now more than 1,000 independent boutiques carrying all kinds of new trends in Leeds city centre.

“Most of these carry second hand or vintage fashion which has allowed Leeds those who can’t afford big branded items the opportunity to find hidden gems of clothing, therefore getting good value for their money.”

Leeds houses up to around 757,500 students, most of which cannot afford big retailer branded clothing and decide to shop for second hand clothing, which is not only value for money, however classes as sustainable fashion as it is recycling the clothes that others have discarded.  

“Vintage fashion was really enforced upon people who couldn’t afford fancy clothes, it wasn’t called vintage fashion until the 1990’s, it was always seen as inferior to new clothes as it was mainly called ‘hand me downs’ or ‘second hand’. 

In second-hand clothing we can find hidden gems of clothing whilst saving the planet by not mass producing more of the same item

“But now there is a growing population of people, partly driven by ethical and sustainability reasons due to fast fashion damaging the planet, who increasingly want to buy second hand clothes. Whether they be luxury vintage items, or some people are just happy to peruse the charity shops and come across items second hand but still in good condition.

“Shops on the high street such as Topshop and Urban Outfitters thrive on this as they have these sections or embrace vintage clothing.”

With the high street being taken over by fast fashion and our lack of motivation to physically buy these expensive items, it is no wonder that economically shops are suffering to make sales to sustain business. 

Although Topshop and Urban Outfitters are not the only brands on the high street who are thriving from business of vintage/second hand clothing products. Primark have recently begun selling their own sustainable brand of clothing. 

The Primark Cares initiative was created in order to show how the store is showing its responsibility as a large retailer to support the people who are producing their clothes and protect the environment, therefore maintaining its ethical values.

Primark’s Wellness range is available is stores all across Britain

Their Wellness Brand has been launched under their Primark Cares initiative and was made a permanent edition to Primark stores at the end of February. The brand uses environmentally sourced materials from organic cotton, recycled or sustainable materials. 

The international retailer aim’s to also focus on the customers putting their wellbeing first by producing 100% cotton robes and three wick soy candles to promote comfort, rest and reflection. The range also provides gym wear and sustainably made, ethically sourced bed sheets, for people to look and feel great whilst knowing they haven’t harmed the environment whilst doing so.

The full collection is now available in the Leeds Trinity store in the city centre and holds 80 products all worth their value in money.

We are also seeing changes being discussed in Downing Street as the secretary of state of digital, culture, media and sport Rt. Hon Oliver Dowden, MP Stephanie Phair and Caroline Rush, CEO and chair of the British Fashion Council hosted a reception to celebrate British fashion and sustainability.

Over five days there were 115 runways presentations and events from global fashion designers with an international audience from over 40 countries. These focussed the industry’s impact on the environment. The British Fashion Council shared its plans for the Institute of Positive Fashion and global initiatives map to support UK designers, whilst making a change within the environment.

Caroline Rush explained “Fashion is a creative outlet for the individual expression that touches everyone, and as we have seen at London Fashion Week our businesses can inspire, support communities with a huge capacity to be a social force for good.”

About the Author

This article was produced by a student or students on the BA in Journalism at Leeds Beckett University.

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