Written by Patricia Llacer
The change in consumer attitude towards a more sustainable world is forcing multinational companies to introduce what they call “circular and sustainable” services. So far, Boohoo, Zara and Prettylittlething have already started to launch some. Posing the questions: Are these brands actually on their way to becoming “sustainable”? Or is this just greenwashing?
What are brands (not) doing?
Recently, Boohoo has heavily invested in a campaign with Kourtney Kardashian-Barker to promote their recycled and traceable cotton, attracting her 203 million Instagram fan base alongside the deal. Additionally, Zara and Prettylittlething have also implemented a service for unwanted clothes in the UK. What differentiates each service is that Zara repairs exclusively Zara clothes, whereas Prettylittlething donates any unwanted garment to charity.
It’s a positive thing that an awareness of the importance of circular fashion is spreading among fast fashion consumers. If Zara encourages its consumers to repair their clothes, and Pretty Little Thing is stopping their shoppers from throwing clothes into landfill it can’t be a bad thing… right?
Those more heavily involved in the sustainable and ethical fashion movements are distrustful of the “green” changes that big brands are making. For instance, according to The Telegraph, there are 72 garments discarded on average per wardrobe in Britain each year. Taking into account that there are 68.7 million people in Britain, Prettylittlething would have to be able to donate 4.9 billion garments a year to charity to truly fulfil their campaign. By digging a little deeper into the claims they’re making it is clear that their services and programmes are far from practical or realistic.
Furthermore, there is no mention of their production levels and textile waste. According to Good on You, Boohoo and Zara maintain their low sustainability rating. They display no evidence of minimising production waste or animal suffering, and for 60-80% of their supply chain wages and working conditions are undisclosed. Do their new sustainable campaigns excuse their lack of transparency and large textile waste?
What Can Be Done?
The real question lies on whether these brands are really shifting towards a more circular and slow fashion industry or they just want to avoid the real landfill problem and release short term solutions.
As consumers, we also have the responsibility to start putting the planet first. By valuing our wardrobes and prolonging their lifespan with services like Re_considered, multinational brands will have to become more transparent to regain the trust of customers.